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8 Nursing Lessons Every Nurse Needs to Know | Insights from Lead Nurse Michele Steinbeck

Michele Steinbeck - 05/10/18

As an experienced nurse, I often want to share the knowledge that I have gained over the years. Here are 8 things every nurse should keep in mind as they are growing in the profession.

What Does Being a Nurse Mean to You?

To me, being a nurse means being apart of the healthcare team providing holistic care to patients. Providing holistic care is essential for the well being of a patient. Being a professional nurse also means being an advocate for the patient. The patient must be able to trust you. Being a professional nurse means practicing current evidence-based care. This is why obtaining and implementing continuing education is of the utmost importance. When you are in the healthcare field you must stay up-to-date on current practice to have positive safe patient outcomes. You worked too hard to obtain your nursing license, so I know you want to keep your nursing license. Last but not least, being a nurse means you treat your patients and colleagues with kindness, dignity, compassion, and respect. The nursing professional is a caring profession.

What is the One Thing You Wish You Knew Before Going to Nursing School?

The one thing I wish I knew before going to nursing school is how much I would impact someone’s life and how much opportunity a nurse has. When I went to nursing school over 25 years ago, I only knew a nurse to be the person in healthcare that gave bed baths, took vital signs, or carried out the physician’s orders. Little did I know back then. Over the past 25 years in my nursing profession, I have had the opportunity be the bedside nurse that was there for the patient when they took their last breath or was holding a mother’s hand while their child was in pain or was at the bedside when a patient received the news that they were cancer free. I have also experienced the side of nursing where I had the opportunity to watch a struggling student who’s only hope was to graduate from nursing school to support their family pass NCLEX or watch a nurse from outside the US prep and take NCLEX to live out their dream to come to the states to work to provide a means for their family. Nurses impact many lives and the lives of many families.

How do You Handle the Stress of Being a Nurse? 

Being a nurse, you must be able to handle stressful situations. This could happen daily. You must take the time out to decompress and found what makes you lower your stress level. Whether this is a form of spiritual ritual of prayer, taking time to be alone, being able to talk about the situation, exercise…you must find what works for you. For me, I need to be able to find my alone time with prayer as well as having a routine of at least an hour of workout at least 3 x week.

What are Some Tips On How to Handle a Difficult Physician? 

A couple of tips on how to handle a difficult physician is to approach the situation factually without emotions or opinions. Do not loss your temper and always show respect. You will want this same respect given to you as well. Apologize if needed and again ask that the physician to respect you as well. Being able to therapeutically communicate with the provider will allow you to handle the difficult situation with professional skills and to have a better outcome.

What Skills Do Nurses Need? 

Nurses need to have the skills of clinical judgment as well as professional skills. Practicing clinical judgment skills will allow you to see the entire picture the patient is presenting. Understanding cues from patient is critical. Patient just don’t “crash”. Usually there are signs to show you that your patient is not responding to treatment. Nurses need to have the ability to listen to their patients and hear them and act upon them. Communication skills are essentials in the nursing profession. Communication skills are not only critical for our patients but also being able to communicate with your colleagues within the healthcare team. Nurses also need to be flexible. Having your day planned is wonderful but patients don’t always follow your plan. Be able to adapt to the situation because the agenda will change. Having the desire to be a lifelong learner is also another essential skill needed to be a nurse. Healthcare changes, patient’s change, practice changes…. keep up to date with practice. This can be done by completing your continuing education requirements.

What is Your Response When Someone Says, "You're Just a Nurse"?

Thank you! Do you understand what “just a nurse” means?

We are caring, we are professionals, we are confident, we are the lifeline for the patient, we are the lifeline for the physician, we are the largest sector of the healthcare profession, we are passionate, we are healthcare leaders.

How do You Avoid Burnout?

My advice to help avoid burnout is to take time for yourself. Taking care of yourself means eating healthy, having a routine exercise workout plan, getting at least 7-8 hours of rest/sleep. Also, to avoid burnout learn about yourself. This means understanding what your passion is. Nurses have so much opportunity in the healthcare field. Know what motivates you. Is it working with children, older adults, teaching, laboring moms, sales, technology? The possibilities are endless when you have RN behind your name.

How Can Obtaining Continuing Education Impact Your Nursing Profession and Career?

Number 1 most states require CE credits. The reason being is if you read about the nursing practice act you will notice in the act it says that nursing requires lifelong learning and the continuing competency process allows the nurse to continue to grow professionally (depending on your state).

Secondly, if you are passionate about the nursing profession being a lifelong learner should be priority to keeping abreast to current practice. Being a professional nurse means practicing current evidence-based care. This is why obtaining and implementing continuing education is of the utmost importance. When you are in the healthcare field you must stay up-to-date on current practice to have positive safe patient outcomes. You worked too hard to obtain your nursing license, so I know you want to keep your nursing license.