How to Improve Your Skills for Nursing

Professional development is becoming increasingly important for nurses, especially as jobs in the profession continue to grow. Nationally, jobs for registered nurses are expected to increase 19 percent over the next decade, faster than average than all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Nurses make up the largest group of health care professionals in the United. Sixty-one percent of all RNs currently work in hospital settings; the rest work in physicians’ offices, home health care services, nursing care facilities, correctional facilities, schools, clinics or the military.

How can you improve your nursing skills? Rosemary Dale, clinical professor of nursing and chair of the Department of Nursing at the University of Vermont, offers some suggestions.

How can you Improve your Skills for Nursing?

Continue Your Education

Research has shown that hospitals with more baccalaureate-prepared nurses have better patient outcomes. That said, nurses with a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) tend to have more job prospects than those who do not. In fact, the Institute of Medicine’s Future of Nursing Report recommends increasing the number of nurses holding a BSN degree or higher to 80 percent by 2020.

However, if going for an advanced or second degree is not possible, Dale suggests pursuing certifications, attending workshops, or volunteering to improve your nursing skills. Certifications, such as a licensed nursing assistant (LNA) are desirable, and workshops can be very helpful. Volunteering at local health care organization is an effective way to develop new, transferable skills as well.

Learn How to Effectively Communicate

Improving communication skills take practice and effort. As a nurse, effectively communicating to patients and their loved ones is a key component to providing quality health care.

“Nurses have to be good listeners. They have to be attentive, not distracted, and in the moment,” Dale says. “Patients and families sense when providers are distracted or rushed.”

Listen, stay aware of non-verbal cues, and be mindful of the patient’s perspective. Nurses can better educate and counsel their patients by being in tune with their needs.

“Be respectful of literacy, culture, opinions, fears, and how hard it can be to receive and digest bad news,” Dale says.

Join a Professional Nursing Organization

Professional nursing organizations can be a valuable resource for nurses in terms of networking, professional development, advocacy, and education, Dale says. Professional nursing organizations can help:

  • Maintain practice proficiency and keep professional knowledge up-to-date.
  • Provide an opportunity to create communities of interest among nurses to share current information.
  • Present a united voice of advocacy in the community and represent the objectives of the members.
  • Be a resource for education by offering conferences, webinars, and online resources for members.

A Commitment to Service and Knowledge

Dale believes the most important nursing skills include qualities that are all about being human.

“Intelligence, a desire to continuously learn and be of service, and a lack of arrogance are important,” she says. “Don’t be afraid to not know the answer to something, and recognize your own humanity.”