What Skills Should I Have Before Starting Nursing School?

Deciding to go to nursing school is a major life decision. Not only is it a promising and challenging career path but it can be a costly undertaking and requires a great deal of dedication. You're probably wondering if you have what it takes.

Beginning nursing school is one of the most rewarding yet demanding decisions you can make -- so it's best to be prepared before you begin. Acquiring the necessary skills before you begin nursing school may help to insure your success in the field of nursing.

Nurses have several crucial skills that they use while in college but also in their profession. Some of the most important include the ability to clearly and effectively communicate, to develop and strengthen critical thinking, a strong sense of motivation and the desire to learn, the ability to work under extreme pressure as well as flexibility and the ability to pay attention to details.

While this is not an all-inclusive list, it certainly highlights some of the most significant skills necessary to pursue a career in nursing.

Since much of the coursework in nursing school involves an in-depth knowledge of science and math concepts, the ability to think analytically and critically in any situation is necessary. Certainly it is a skill that will get more refined as it is used consistently. Nurses are required to analyze situations and make decisions on the spot. In order to do so effectively, a sharp, clear mind is a critical element for success.

Nurses are on the front lines of patient care in the medical field. As a nurse, you are the eyes and ears that communicate for both patients and medical staff. In order to be successful as a nurse, being able to effectively communicate is one of, if not the most important tools. Being able to listen and understand will enable clear dialogue between medical personnel and patients and their families. Nurses have to clearly understand and be able to explain diagnoses, patient care, test results, etc.

A strong desire to embrace lifelong learning is a valuable skill for nursing students. Earning your nursing degree should not be considered the end of your career training. In fact, it should only be the beginning.

Nurses should always remain curious and ready to acquire new knowledge. With all of the ongoing advances in the medical field, the knowledge base required will be a fluid process. After nursing students are licensed, continuing education credits are required for the life of the license. Many nurses work in the field and then decide to pursue graduate education so they can move forward as leaders in the field.

Another trait that nurses should possess is the ability to pay attention to even seemingly small details. Working under pressure with several duties at once can make this difficult, but a sharp, clear mind can help to make it possible. Nurses must listen to many patients' symptoms, deliver and administer exact medications at exact times, record all details in patient charts, and make decisions on the spot that could mean life or death. In even the most chaotic situations, nurses must be able to stay focused and attentive to all details.

Nurses must be able to juggle many tasks at once. They must also always be open to the challenges that the day will inevitably bring. Patient care is, in itself, an unpredictable task. Nurses have to remain flexible, sharp and calm at all times, even when a situation gets difficult or out of hand.

Effective patient care requires the collaboration of many different team players and nurses must be able to 'pinch hit' when necessary so that everyone is safe and happy. Without the ability to quickly adapt, nurses would simply not be able to handle the job.

The details of each day on the job can put a great amount of mental and physical stress on the part of the nurse. Many situations can even seem traumatic. For these reasons, effective nurses have to learn to cope and handle stress, so the challenges of the job don't become a hazard. The demands of the job are heavy and the schedule can be hectic. Nurses directly deal with patients, patient families, co-workers and others and do so in the most intense emotional situations possible. Stress management has to be individual, but it also has to be a regular part of a nurse's life.

Ideally, nursing students would be proficient in all of these areas before starting nursing school, but these skills are also developed and strengthened with time and practice.

Every nurse must possess the ability to analyze a patient care situation and make judgments that are in the best interest of the patient at all times. They have to not only make those judgments but they must act on them accurately and suitably. Patients are stressed and needy when they're ill or injured and nurses are their front line contact. Nurses must be educated, professional and calm at all times, ready to face whatever challenge comes their way to provide the best possible patient care.

If you think that you possess the skills needed to become a nurse, take the next step by contacting the nursing schools below to learn more.