An effective nurse must have excellent clinical skills and knowledge—but that’s not all. Nurses are able to provide the highest level of care when they have the soft skills required to work well with other healthcare team members and deliver compassionate, focused care to their patients.
The most essential characteristics of a nurse are not clinical skills or experience. They are compassion, caring and mindfulness, as this infographic from Duquesne University’s School of Nursing illustrates. These soft skills or characteristics are vital to helping patients recover. Increasingly, patients rank characteristics such as empathy and communication as top drivers of a satisfactory hospital experience, according to this survey from McKinsey.
What soft skills do nurses need to deliver the best patient experience? Here are the top five.
- Communication. The cornerstone of any relationship, strong communication skills are vital for nurses to stay on the same page with co-workers and other members of the care team, as well as to communicate with patients and their families. When nurses are strong communicators, they consistently educate patients, convey the mission and vision of the healthcare facility, and motivate other staff members to provide excellent care. They are also able to assess patient data, develop the best care plan for each patient, and accurately communicate that plan to other healthcare team members.
- Teamwork. More often than ever, nurses are needed to work on interdisciplinary teams consisting of professionals from many different departments or areas of the hospital. The ability to work well with others, setting aside personal preferences or priorities in favor of the team’s effort, can increase efficiency in a busy hospital environment. Nurses who are easy to work with and make themselves valuable team members can make the job easier and more enjoyable for everyone else.
- Empathy. Highly effective nurses are not in a rush, and they are not focused on getting their own work done at the expense of listening to a patient’s needs. Instead they are able to put themselves in their patient’s shoes, see situations from their perspective and show that they understand their feelings. Responding with empathy requires nurses to act on that understanding in appropriate, therapeutic ways.
- Problem solving and critical thinking. Today’s patients are not only more informed about healthcare issues, but many also have multiple chronic illnesses. They may also be struggling with economic challenges, limited resources and rapidly changing technologies. In this environment, nurses must be able to think critically about the various situations facing their patients and develop solutions to unique problems and challenges as they arise. In an industry that is constantly changing, nurses must rely on their own wits as much as their clinical knowledge.
- Professionalism. Each nurse represents the healthcare facility where he or she works, as well as the nursing profession as a whole. Not only must nurses maintain their professional licensure, but they must also behave in a composed manner that will promote their patients’ trust in them and in all nurses as a profession. Highly effective nurses take this charge seriously, aiming to positively represent nurses and nursing to every patient or family member with whom they come into contact.
Even for the best nurses, pouring out a high level of care and service day after day in a tense hospital environment can lead to work-related stress and even burnout. Fortunately, using some of these soft skills can actually help relieve stress. By communicating regularly and openly with patients and their families, for example, patients will worry less and call nurses less often, Kiki Orski, founder and chief nursing officer of Peak Performance Consulting, told Nursing World.
New technologies can also help relieve workplace stress, freeing nurses to focus more on providing excellent care and less on tasks. Amplion’s next-generation nurse call technology helps improve communication and collaboration among care teams and empowers nurses perform their jobs better, with less stress, every day. Our data-driven platform uses smart technology and workflow optimization to enhance nurse call as well as patient safety, care coordination and alarm management. Our platform also provides nursing leaders with the visibility they need to boost accountability and morale.Schedule a free consultation with us to learn how we can help your hospital build happier, more engaged nursing teams that deliver the highest level of patient satisfaction.