Develop These Nursing Skills to Maximize Patient Care

Develop These Nursing Skills to Maximize Patient Care

Nursing is a key component of healthcare. The profession has already invested a great deal of education, research, and innovation to strengthen the connection between nursing and quality patient care. However, there’s more work to do at the bedside. These human-centered skills focus on how nurses can use their unique knowledge and training to maximize care and positively impact patient outcomes.

1. Empower Your Patients

Most people, including some nurses, largely view nursing as providing care or assisting others. While these are crucial aspects of what nurses do, the bigger picture involves empowering our patients to confidently act on issues that are important to them.

Nurses empower patients through the process of providing information, asking open-ended questions, or motivational interviewing. The nurses’ role as a patient advocate and health activists enables patients to become active participants in their lives and set personal health goals. Empowering patients to participate in self-advocacy with a sense of confidence is a key nursing skill that ultimately promotes patient satisfaction.

2. Focus on People, Not Tasks

Nursing can be a task-oriented field, which makes it easy to forget that there is a person behind each need. Nurses who can look beyond the task at hand and create connections with patients will promote stronger partnership and balance.

Through active listening and mutual respect, the nurse and patient can learn from each other. While the nurse may be the expert on diseases and illnesses, patients are experts by experience—especially in the cases of rare illnesses or chronic diseases.

By seeing and acknowledging the patient as an individual with unique needs, experiences, and insights, nurses have the opportunity to provide knowledgeable care.

3. Hone Patient-Centered Teaching Skills

Nurses who can clarify clinical information without oversimplifying are in high demand. These nurses promote quality care by following an individualized approach while keeping the instruction patient-centered. This involves understanding your patient’s culture, background, and learning level.

Before you launch into a lengthy explanation, find out what the patient already knows. Ask him or her, “What do you understand about this condition?” or “Does this seem like something you will be able to continue?”

Other techniques include asking for clarification when patients have questions, using the teach-back method, and providing patient-friendly resources such as websites or handouts with specific relevance to the patient’s condition.

4. Pay Attention to Patient-specific Details

Paying attention to the details of an individual’s feelings, behaviors, and circumstances impacts quality care for patients. Additionally, physical assessments require a tangible touch and a human eye to witness expressions, examine skin, and observe breathing. To compare patient-specific normals and abnormals, nurses must focus on the patient in front of them at that moment by pushing interruptions and surrounding stress aside.

Each patient has unique medications, treatments, and patient care notes, which requires the nurse to be thorough and willing to double-check. Nurses with an eye for detail are holding themselves accountable to be accurate and organized at all times, as mistakes could lead to life-altering outcomes.

5. Expand Your Critical Thinking

A crucial element of professional nursing is quickly assessing and analyzing patient conditions and recognizing issues that impact patient outcomes. The ability to make quick decisions or life-and-death judgments is often a daily part of the role. This level of responsibility is achieved when a nurse has obtained the knowledge, experience, and confidence that supports multifaceted problem-solving and data interpretation.

Critical thinking skills are attainable by staying up-to-date with current nursing and medical literature, challenging yourself to avoid regurgitating textbook material, and forming your thoughts about a subject. Expanding your critical thinking skills will affect patient care directly—the more you know, the better care you provide.

6. Present Yourself As a Professional Nurse

Promoting your professional identity is essential to providing quality patient care. Patients don’t want a nurse to be their friend—they are looking for a nurse who can apply their knowledge and skills to their specific medical condition. Patients also aren’t seeking a caregiver who depends on virtues like goodness and patience to get by. They need a nurse who has been professionally educated and trained to care for them.

A professional nurse will communicate what they do and what they know to the patient. Patients want to feel confident that the nurse caring for them is competent and knowledgeable—not just compassionate and kind. Focus on highlighting your nursing knowledge instead of your virtues to improve patient care.

7. Manage Your Stress

A nurse’s workload is often hectic and stressful. From cranky family members to spilled medications, the levels of stress can rise as the day goes on. A 2017 study found that heavy workloads and consistent interruptions had negative effects on patient outcomes. Nurses who learn to actively manage their stress levels can provide better care and create positive patient outcomes.

Managing job stress may involve stepping away for a walk or break, engaging in deep breathing, or asking for help with a patient. Managing stress off the job might include engaging in meditation and daily exercises, getting regular sleep, and following a healthy diet. Allowing yourself to remain calm and collected in a chaotic work environment is only possible when you have laid the groundwork for self-care.

8. Bolster Teamwork

Nurses are at their best when faced with a unified goal such as creating a positive patient care experience. When it’s all said and done, every interdisciplinary team member plays a crucial role in the patient care experience. This level of collaborative care coordination includes demonstrating effective communication skills with both patients and team members.

When interacting with the interdisciplinary care team, be sure to foster patient-centered care by speaking about patients respectfully and discussing clinical details with discretion and accuracy. Nurses may need to take the lead in assisting other team members with understanding and caring for their patients.

When communicating with patients about team members, be sure to share information in a positive way. Say something like, “Jana will be in soon. She’s been a certified nursing assistant for four years. You’ll feel very comfortable in her care.” Promoting and supporting the entire care team will display unity and competence to the patient, ultimately resulting in a positive experience.


Whether you have been a nurse for one month or several decades, your nursing practice impacts every patient you encounter.

These key skills lead the way in sharpening your nursing competencies and ensuring that you work at the highest level of your scope of practice. Keeping your nursing knowledge and skills up-to-date ensures quality of care and promotes patient safety and satisfaction.

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