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Throughout most of my life I have had several encounters with medical professionals. The most impactful relationships I have made during visits in doctors’ offices have been with the nurses. The nurses that I interacted with were very compassionate and thoughtful with their care. I became very close with the nurses that worked with me throughout my illnesses. They advocated for me when no one else would listen, and they pushed for things to be done for me when they needed to. The experiences that I had with the nurses helped set a path for my future and is a major reason why I decided to become a nurse. In addition to the experiences I had, I also wanted to be in a profession that was challenging, interesting, and makes a difference in people’s lives. There are several characteristics that nurses possess that make them exceptional. Five defining characteristics or nurses are advocacy, caring, the ability to collaborate, critical thinking, and leadership.
Advocacy is a core characteristic for a nurse to possess. A patient depends on the nurse to be their voice and help to make sure they receive adequate care. It is essential in various situations with a multitude of client populations. Being able to promote what is best for the client, ensuring needs are met, protecting the client’s rights remain a vital responsibility of the professional nurse (Cherry & Jacob, 2019). Nurses are a patient advocate by supporting public policies that protect consumers and enhance accountability for quality by promoting safer health care systems (Cherry & Jacob, 2019). Patient safety is directly related to patient advocacy. “Recognizing the need to strengthen nurses’ competencies in the science of patient safety and quality, the QSEN project was developed to prepare nurses with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to continuously improve the quality and safety of the healthcare systems in which they work” (Cherry & Jacob, 2019). The Quality and Safety Education for Nurses project helps promote patient advocacy for safety and the quality of care. An example where advocating for a patient is important for a nurse is helping a patient make informed decisions about their health care. The nurse can help define medical terms in terms that the patient will understand. Advocacy goes hand-in-hand with leadership to help provide satisfactory patient care.
Provider of Care
A vital role of a nurse is to be a care giver, as it is the main job of a nurse to take care of others. The role of care provider is essential to the nursing profession. The nurse assesses the client resources, strengths and weaknesses, coping behaviors, and the environment to optimize the problem-solving and self-care abilities of the client and family. (Cherry & Jacob, 2019). “Nurses and other clinicians strive to provide the best care possible, and in today's healthcare environment, evidence-based care is an integral component of it” (Beyea & Slatttery, 2006). Evidence-based practice allows nurses to provide the best care possible to their patients. Another feature of being a care giver is being able to collaborate with other health care professionals. An example of a nurse providing care for a patient is when a patient is going through the death and dying process the nurse will provide end of life care. When the nurse provides end of life care they are paying attention to physical comfort and the patient’s well-being, while also taking care of their spiritual and interpersonal aspects. Being able to collaborate with interprofessional teams to provide satisfactory patient care is an important role as a care giver.
Interprofessional teams are essential in nursing care and consist of several disciplines of health care professionals including pharmacy, nursing, medicine, nutrition, social work, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, and many other allied health professionals (Cherry & Jacob, 2019). Interprofessional teams help to create effective and in-depth care for all patients. The care giver role and the collaborator role go hand in hand. Client education has a maximal effect when collaboration with interdisciplinary teams is present. Collaboration ensures that information given to the client and family is consistent and complete (Cherry & Jacob, 2019). A nurse has the ability to improve and personalize patient care with collaboration. For example, if a patient needs a consult with respiratory therapy, the nurse will call for an order for respiratory therapy in order to provide personalized care to the patient. Interprofessional teams are valuable because the subsets complement each other and come up with a complete care plan for each patient.
A major aspect of providing adequate care is through critical thinking. The definition of critical thinking is “a purposeful, logical process that results in powerful patient outcome” (Minority Nurse, 2017). Critical thinking is more of an umbrella term, there are many characteristics that fall under it. According to Nurse Journal, “critical thinkers need to be precise, complete, logical, accurate, clear, and fair” (2019). Critical thinking allows the nurse to help make important decisions when caring for a patient. Critical thinking and evidence-based practice go hand-in-hand and help to create care plans. “Critical thinking is an essential part of applying evidence-based practice, using research findings to guide actual practice” (Cherry & Jacob, 2019). Being able to apply critical thinking to each patient scenario allows for better patient outcomes. Critical thinking is a central quality of the other characteristics that creates an exceptional nurse.
Leadership is an essential role in any profession because it facilitates effective communication, motivation, delegating responsibilities to interprofessional colleagues, and problem-solving skills. According to Regan, Laschinger, and Wong, “authentic leadership theory suggests that when leaders are true to their values and strengths, they enable others to do the same leading to a positive organizational culture and employee performance” (2015). It is found that leadership is particularly important when the nurse is in a manager role (Regan, Laschinger, & Wong, 2015). Leadership helps shape decisions of the quality of health care. Nurses are essential in the health care system and have a huge impact on shaping the health care system. The American Nursing Association helps nurses’ step into leadership roles in their communities to ensure that they can play a meaningful role in shaping decisions on the quality and capacity of health care (Finkelman, 2019). Leadership is a critical characteristic of nursing that is ever evolving throughout the nurse’s career.
Personal Nursing Integration
In my own nursing practice, I plan to integrate all of these characteristics and many more. When caring for any patient I plan to use critical thinking to create a personalized care plan that tailors specifically to patient diagnoses. Using critical thinking to create individual plans of care will help facilitate better patient outcomes, rather than using standard care plans for every patient. I will always advocate for my patients with the intention to make sure my patients always get what they need. As a nurse my main job will be to provide care to my patients. I plan to provide individualized care to every patient. By using evidence-based practice I will be able to provide individualized care and best practices to every patient. In addition to providing care to patients I will also collaborate with interprofessional teams to give my patients more advanced, specialized care. I will integrate leadership into everyday practice by creating effective communication, delegating specific tasks to certified nursing assistants, and using problem-solving skills to help create individualized care plans and prioritize patient care.
In conclusion, there are many characteristics that nurses can possess that make them exceptional. I found that there are no set characteristics that make a nurse exceptional, any combination of features can make an outstanding nurse. In doing this research I found that it is difficult for nurses to give compassionate care to patients due to the amount of stress that we go through during nursing school. I learned that critical thinking is a vital aspect that educators are focusing on teaching nursing students to help personalize patient care, instead of using textbook solutions for every patient. Throughout doing this research I have learned that there are several things that I will need to be able to do in order to be an excellent nurse. The five characteristics stated above are ones that I thought would make up an excellent nurse from my past experiences. Advocacy, provider of care, collaboration, critical thinking, and leadership are important aspects that help create good patient care and outcomes.
- Beyea, S. C., & Slattery, M. J. (2006). CHAPTER 7: Nursing excellence and evidence-based practice. Marblehead: HCPro, Inc. Retrieved from https://proxy1.aims.edu:2443/login?url=https://proxy1.aims.edu:2090/docview/189641149?accountid=35907
- Cherry, B., & Jacob, S. R. (2019). Contemporary nursing: issues, trends, & management. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.
- Finkelman, A. W. (2019). Professional nursing concepts: competencies for quality leadership(4th ed.). Retrieved from https://www-r2library-com.unco.idm.oclc.org/resource/title/1284127273
- Minority Nurse. Critical Thinking: A Vital Trait for Nurses. (2017, December 14). Retrieved from https://minoritynurse.com/critical-thinking-vital-trait-nurses/
- Regan, S., Laschinger, H. K. S., & Wong, C. A. (2015). The influence of empowerment, authentic leadership, and professional practice environments on nurses’ perceived interprofessional collaboration. Journal of Nursing Management, 24(1). doi: 10.1111/jonm.12288
- Nurse Journal. (2019, June 3). The Value of Critical Thinking in Nursing Examples - 2019 NurseJournal.org. Retrieved from https://nursejournal.org/community/the-value-of-critical-thinking-in-nursing/.
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