What Makes A Good Nurse?

FEBRUARY 15, 2016
Ryan Gray, MD

4.     Ability to multitask. A good nurse cannot have a one-track mind. To stay afloat in a busy physician’s office or hospital ward, nurses must be able to quickly jump from one task to another without missing a beat. Often, they will be caring for patients with diverse needs, charting, helping physicians, answering questions, making phone calls and performing minor medical procedures—all within a couple minutes.
5.     A great memory. Good nurses have the ability to remember specific details about patients—and I’m not just talking about when the patient last received medication or the last blood pressure reading. Nurses who can recall specific information about each patient—such as family members’ names, where a patient lives and a patient’s favorite food or sports team—are able to provide personalized care. These nurses also are able to share a bit of background about a patient’s personal life, helping physicians to create a bond during often-brief patient interactions. Of course, good nurses also remember the medical details so they can fill in the physician or the next nurse on duty.
6.     Powers of observation. Perceptiveness in a nurse can be a life-saving virtue. Expert nurses will identify a problematic symptom or side effect and bring it to the attention of the physician before it causes disastrous complications. They also pick up on patient needs and advocate for appropriate support, such as referrals to social service organizations, more face time with physician or better pain control.
If you are surrounded by nurses that possess these characteristics, you can count yourself as a very lucky physician. If you’ve ever been a patient or had family being treated by one of these nurses, you know the impact that they’ve made on you and your family.
Good nurses can make a huge impact on patient care. Unfortunately, bad nurses also have a tremendous impact on patient care. That’s why it is imperative to your success as a physician that you hire and retain a high-quality group of nurses (or, if you aren’t in charge of human resources, that you advocate for good hires where you work).
It’s also crucial to treat all nurses (even those that do possess these characteristics) with the utmost respect. These nurses are a crucial part of the team. Don’t forget that!
In my next post, I’ll discuss how to spot a bad nurse before it’s too late—preferably before they are hired or have a chance to provide significant patient care.

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