7 Life Skills You Need
for a Career in Nursing

See also: Skills You Need to Become a Medical Professional

Developing life skills allows you to overcome challenges and make the most of every opportunity, which is why it’s important to start developing from an early age. As toddlers, we begin learning life skills, but it’s a process that continues for decades. In fact, you could say we’re continually learning and honing the skills we need to succeed in life.

Of course, there are some situations which help you to develop particular life skills. If you regularly give presentations at seminars, for example, you’ll hone your public speaking abilities as you gain more experience. In the same way, your professional experience can help you to develop particular skills and abilities.

Although you can develop skills as a result of spending time in a particular environment or being faced with unprecedented obstacles, you’ll fare better by taking a proactive approach to develop the life skills you’re likely to need. If you’re eager to work in the healthcare industry, for example, you can increase your employability, performance and job satisfaction by honing the life skills you’ll need to fulfil your duties and reach your potential. With this in mind, take a look at the seven life skills you need for a career in nursing:

1. Empathy

Being empathetic means you’re able to put yourself in another person’s shoes and understand what they’re feeling and experiencing. As a healthcare professional, you’ll be caring for people when they’re at their most vulnerable, which means being empathetic is particularly important.

By showing empathy, you can put patients at ease and deliver an enhanced level of patient care. Furthermore, empathetic individuals are often better listeners, which means you’ll be able to gather more information from patients and apply this data accordingly. If you want to hone this life skill, you can begin my examining the habits of empathetic people and incorporating them into your own life. While most people who are driven to join the healthcare sector are naturally empathetic, honing this skill will always stand you in good stead.

2. Resilience

As a nurse, you’ll be faced with tough situations. The role can be emotionally draining, as well as physically exhausting, which is why being resilient is essential. While being empathetic is important, taking on the emotions of patients can be damaging to your own well-being. By developing your inner strength and learning how to be empathetic without being too emotional, you can develop resilience.

Today’s healthcare professionals do have access to resources to help them deal with the emotional impact of their roles. Despite this, the rigors of the job can have a detrimental effect from time-to-time. Due to this, it’s important to ask for help when you need it and to rely on your colleagues for support.

Although you’ll develop resilience as you gain experience as a nurse, you can enhance this aspect of your character by taking a proactive approach.

3. Communication

When you’re delivering patient care, good communication is vital. If you’re taking a patient’s medical history or trying to establish their symptoms, for example, you’ll need to employ active listening to ensure you get all of the data you need. Similarly, if you’re explaining a course of treatment to a patient, you’ll need to ensure that your verbal communication skills enable you to impart the information effectively and sympathetically.

Although good communication is essential in your day-to-day role as a healthcare worker, you’ll also find that it’s critical to your career progression. When you’re applying for new roles, for example, you’ll need to impress prospective employers with written communication before relying on verbal communication to perform well in an interview. If you want to know how you can use written communication to create a winning resume as a nurse, take a look at this blog post now.

Whether you’re speaking to a patient, liaising with doctors or interviewing for a new role, communication is at the heart of everything you do. As a result, it’s important to hone this skill at every opportunity so that your written, verbal, nonverbal and visual skills are the best they possibly can be.

4. Self-Directed Learning

A willingness to learn will benefit any career but it’s particularly important if you choose to work in the healthcare industry. As a nurse, you’ll regularly be learning how to administer new treatments and procedures, as well as embracing new methodologies and workplace protocols. As the sector continues to evolve, there will be new technology and medical devices to become accustomed to as well. This means that a significant proportion of your time will be dedicated to professional development. Indeed, many healthcare professionals are required to undertake a set amount of training each year to ensure they remain competent.

As well as performing your duties to the best of your ability and in line with regulations, self-directed learning will facilitate career progression too. If you’re currently working as a Registered Nurse, for example, you may choose to enroll in a master’s program and gain an advanced qualification. By doing so, you could qualify as a Family Nurse Practitioner, a Nurse Anesthetist, a Nurse Educator or take on a number of other roles.

Of course, working full-time in the healthcare sector and studying for an advanced qualification can be taxing. With motivation and a willingness to learn, however, you’ll be well-equipped for the challenges you’ll face as you climb the career ladder.

5. Time Management

Being a nurse means working in a fast-paced and pressurized environment. Whether you’re working on a hospital ward, delivering care to patients at home or based in a clinical office, you’ll need to manage your time effectively to ensure that key tasks are completed on time.

When you’re responsible for administering medication, for example, there may be specific times that patients need to take their prescribed treatments. Similarly, if you’re administering medical procedures, such as blood tests or stitching a wound, these may need to be carried out a particular time in order to improve the patient’s outcome.

Due to this, effective time management is critical to your success as a healthcare worker. Of course, when you have a growing list of tasks and you’re under resourced, it can be tricky to manage your workload effectively. Despite this, it’s essential to implement effective time management strategies to achieve both professional and personal success.

6. Conflict Resolution

Being able to preempt potential conflicts and escalate them before they arise helps to create a harmonious workplace and a positive environment for patients. In instances when it isn’t possible to avoid a conflict, learning to manage the situation effectively and resolve the issue is the next best thing.

When you can address conflicts logically, calmly and non-emotionally, you’ll have the opportunity to take different viewpoints on board and offer constructive solutions to a problem. Whether you’re directly involved in a conflict or not, being able to assist in the resolution process will mark you out as a valuable member of your team.

Although conflicts can and do arise in the workplace, they occur in other areas of life too, which is why conflict resolution is a critical life skill to develop. When you can apply it at work and in other areas, you’ll find that you have more harmonious relationships with people, more success and improved outcomes.

7. Stress Management

It’s no secret that working in the healthcare sector can be stressful. When your role includes making life or death decisions, it’s not surprising that healthcare professionals can experience the physical and emotional consequences of excess stress. Additionally, caring for patients when they’re at their most vulnerable, liaising with families and potentially delivering upsetting news undoubtedly takes a toll.

The nature of nursing means that stress management should be a top priority throughout your career. By using stress reduction techniques, such as yoga or mindfulness, you can find healthy ways to cope and appropriate outlets for excess stress. Whether you rely on exercise to help you clear your mind or you throw yourself into your hobbies in order to alleviate stress, finding stress reduction tools that work for you will increase your ability to cope with the demands of your career.

However, equipping yourself with the right life skills can play a major role in reducing stress too. When you’re managing your time effectively, communicating well with people and delivering empathetic patient care, for example, you’re less likely to experience stress in the workplace or at home.

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Interpersonal Skills eBooks.

The Skills You Need Guide to Interpersonal Skills

Develop your interpersonal skills with our series of eBooks. Learn about and improve your communication skills, tackle conflict resolution, mediate in difficult situations, and develop your emotional intelligence.

Being Successful in the Healthcare Industry

Working in the healthcare sector can offer an unrivalled level of fulfilment and job satisfaction. When you’re able to assist people in their time of need, you know that your professionalism and expertise is making a real difference in people’s lives.

Like all healthcare workers, you’ll want to achieve your potential and operate successfully within the industry. While medical training will give you the knowledge you need to fulfil your duties, developing the critical life skills needed to thrive will increase your success and enable you to truly enjoy your career.

About the Author

Maggie Hammond is a proud mama to two little people and has one too many furry friends. She is passionate about alternative medicine, education, the great outdoors and animal welfare.