What Makes a Great Nurse

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    It’s been said many times, “It takes all kinds to make this big ‘ole world go ‘round.” Nurses come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and personalities. These different personalities make us each who we are, but which of these different traits make us good nurses?

    When I was in nursing school, one thing I always remember hearing the instructors say is straight A’s are not what makes a good nurse. There’s nothing wrong with getting straight A’s of course, but it takes a lot more than that to truly be a good nurse.

    I believe one of the most important qualities of being a good nurse is having compassion. A nurse with compassion is one who truly cares about her patients well-being and outcome. This nurse treats her patients as she would expect any other nurse to treat herself or own loved ones.

    The nurse with experience, not experience as a nurse but as a patient. This nurse applies her own experiences into practice. The only way to truly understand what a patient is going through is to have experienced it yourself. Each nurse has different experiences but at some time almost all of us will experience an ER visit, a surgery, or even labor and delivery as a patient.

    Another great quality in a nurse is being non-judgmental. I know long ago in nursing school we were taught this, but I see it so often and I admit that I’ve caught myself judging patients. As an example: “30 year old with back pain coming by ambulance, gotta be a drug seeker.” Turned out the patient had a back injury after an accident. It seems that many of these patients being judged are being judged because of known or suspected drug abuse. These people are struggling with an illness; addiction is an illness and should be treated that way. These people have their own stories and struggles that have led them to where they are today, some of these struggles way more difficult than we can ever imagine.

    It’s important for nurse’s to be efficient, one way of doing this is to be part of a team. Working together with others and delegating to other members of your team helps increase your efficiency. Part of being a team is also helping other members of your team. Being efficient helps you to give your patients the best care. There are many aspects to having an effective team, but it’s very important that all members of the team are respectful of each other.

    Nurses need to be respectful of each other and of their patients. There are many little things about an individual that may drive you crazy, but just remember none of us are perfect. There is probably something about yourself that drives someone else crazy.
    Last edit by Joe V on Nov 14, '12
    justme1982, eemilee, zzravizz, and 10 others like this.

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  2. About nkochrn

    I am an RN and mother of 2, I worked for 6 years in a rural hospital, where I worked in OB, ED, and the Med-Surg floor. I started working in the IT department in 2011 at the same hospital, which has allowed me to be home with my family every evening.

    nkochrn has '5' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'ER, OB, Med-Surg, Geriatric'. From 'Kansas'; 30 Years Old; Joined Jun '08; Posts: 292; Likes: 251.

    Read more articles from nkochrn

    48 Comments so far...

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    Hi, Good article. I am only still in the pre-req stage in my journey, but there is one thing about your article that REALLY, and I mean REALLY bothers me. It is about addiction being a disease... Now, even if the medical and nursing community can TECHNICALLY give a million reasons why a pt's addiction is similar to (or, as is claimed) an ACTUAL disease, I have to point out a certain piece of information that is akin to shouting " The Emperer has no clothes..." These addicts CHOSE to take whatever substance they are addicted to that first (or second, or third or 50th time...), knowing that the possibility of them becoming addicts existed.

    I know as an aspiring Nurse that I'm supposed to sympathize with these people-and make no mistake, once I am an RN I will do what is expected of me regardless of my personal feelings- but they made their bed, and now they expect the rest of us to lie in it with them... I'm sorry but I don't agree. Many of these addicts are going to the ER on the taxpayers dime, and I personally think that this needs to stop.
  4. 5
    Quote from PRICHARILLAisMISSED
    Hi, Good article. I am only still in the pre-req stage in my journey, but there is one thing about your article that REALLY, and I mean REALLY bothers me. It is about addiction being a disease... Now, even if the medical and nursing community can TECHNICALLY give a million reasons why a pt's addiction is similar to (or, as is claimed) an ACTUAL disease, I have to point out a certain piece of information that is akin to shouting " The Emperer has no clothes..." These addicts CHOSE to take whatever substance they are addicted to that first (or second, or third or 50th time...), knowing that the possibility of them becoming addicts existed.

    I know as an aspiring Nurse that I'm supposed to sympathize with these people-and make no mistake, once I am an RN I will do what is expected of me regardless of my personal feelings- but they made their bed, and now they expect the rest of us to lie in it with them... I'm sorry but I don't agree. Many of these addicts are going to the ER on the taxpayers dime, and I personally think that this needs to stop.
    You can sympathize with someone and not enable. For example the doctor might feel bad for an addict, but still won't prescribe some ridiculous amount of drugs.

    And BTW knowing you can get addicted to something doesn't keep you from getting addicted. There are plenty of nurses who are addicts. Why do you think we have to count and recount narcs? I know people who have found themselves liking their drugs a little too much, and they never would have thought themselves to be an addictive type of person. I know people who won't take pain meds as a result even when they need them.
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    what a great article....I couldn't agree more....I am a fairly recent grad myself, a male and a tad older than my fellow peers when I started Nursing....I was so grade driven in Nursing School, and did very well (graduated top of class)...but that was only part of the deal, grades never make the nurse, all of the other qualities you described do....I am in Corrections Nursing and one would think that some of those core, inner values of Compassion and Respect may get lost when dealing with this population, and in truth they can if you are not mindful....I get what I give in my job...I am assigned to our "Max" floor. and make it a point to never know the charges and sentences my inmates are serving...not my job, they have been tried and sentenced....my job is caring for them....I give them the respect and compassion I would anyone else, and in return I get it back...these folks rarely have recieved that in there lives, and in turn have a hard time showing it in return....however, after several months of building relationships they get it...and as a Nurse it is gratifying, as well as makes my job a whole lot easier....Peace to you my friend, great thoughts!....
  6. 2
    Quote from PRICHARILLAisMISSED
    Hi, Good article. I am only still in the pre-req stage in my journey, but there is one thing about your article that REALLY, and I mean REALLY bothers me. It is about addiction being a disease... Now, even if the medical and nursing community can TECHNICALLY give a million reasons why a pt's addiction is similar to (or, as is claimed) an ACTUAL disease, I have to point out a certain piece of information that is akin to shouting " The Emperer has no clothes..." These addicts CHOSE to take whatever substance they are addicted to that first (or second, or third or 50th time...), knowing that the possibility of them becoming addicts existed.

    I know as an aspiring Nurse that I'm supposed to sympathize with these people-and make no mistake, once I am an RN I will do what is expected of me regardless of my personal feelings- but they made their bed, and now they expect the rest of us to lie in it with them... I'm sorry but I don't agree. Many of these addicts are going to the ER on the taxpayers dime, and I personally think that this needs to stop.
    I used to feel the same way about these people who become addicted to drugs and yes I get irritated that we're all footing the bill for their medical expenses. Those things still irritate me, but I'm able to care for them with compassion and I know I will still complain about some of these people when they've left the building. I also know how hard it is to give something up, for example I have a caffeine addiction, sure it sounds like such a small little thing that doesn't compare to say Meth, but I hardly ever go a day without it and I've tried to quit caffeine numerous times. I know that yesterday when my heart was racing and I started having a little bit of chest discomfort that it was because I had drank a Monster. You would think I wouldn't ever drink one again because of it, but I know I probably will and I'm sure that today even if I don't I'm probably at least gonna have a Mountain Dew.

    A REALLY, REALLY GOOD book about addiction is Crank by Ellen Hopkins, followed by Glass and Fallout. These first 2 books are based on a true story and really help you to look inside the mind of an addict. I really recommend you read these.
    NB19938 and JulieL like this.
  7. 0
    I'd also like to point out that addiction is only one example of reasons why we may judge people.
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    I'm really glad you brought up addiction vs. judgment OP, because I think we as a society still know so little about it. It is one of the most complex disease processes to treat, and I think one reason Healthcare Professionals hate addiction soooo much is the damage it causes.

    Sometimes we ourselves feel forced to be enablers, and part of the complexity is we can't know if the patient is really in need or want (or both) of narcotics. Addicts are hard to help. In active addiction/relapse, the patient is mentally ill, and is processing thoughts different than a normal person, just as a diabetic with hypoglycemia- altered mental status.

    Simply denying them narcs won't help either if a program of recovery isn't offered, but that's a near impossibility because of 3 walls. First, the patient must identify as having a problem, secondly, getting a detox/rehab bed is tough(tougher without insurance), and alas maintenance of addiction is so expensive(Suboxone/Methadone) that nearly only insured and Medicaid patients can reach it.

    Addiction must be the largest robber of personal dignity in the disease realm, and until we can REALLY treat or cure it, widely/cost effectively- it will continue to plague our friends, family, and patients- with little hope for good recovery rates in substantial numbers.

    The addict has fallen through the crack- and maybe if you don't let that empathy, care, and passion die in you- you could be the one that changes it all!!!!
    Last edit by BostonTerrierLoverRN on Nov 13, '12
    Companion2thewind, NB19938, runna909, and 1 other like this.
  9. 4
    Quote from PRICHARILLAisMISSED
    Hi, Good article. I am only still in the pre-req stage in my journey, but there is one thing about your article that REALLY, and I mean REALLY bothers me. It is about addiction being a disease... Now, even if the medical and nursing community can TECHNICALLY give a million reasons why a pt's addiction is similar to (or, as is claimed) an ACTUAL disease, I have to point out a certain piece of information that is akin to shouting " The Emperer has no clothes..." These addicts CHOSE to take whatever substance they are addicted to that first (or second, or third or 50th time...), knowing that the possibility of them becoming addicts existed. I know as an aspiring Nurse that I'm supposed to sympathize with these people-and make no mistake, once I am an RN I will do what is expected of me regardless of my personal feelings- but they made their bed, and now they expect the rest of us to lie in it with them... I'm sorry but I don't agree. Many of these addicts are going to the ER on the taxpayers dime, and I personally think that this needs to stop.
    Many diseases are caused by poor choices, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, lung cancers, STDs(choice based in cause only/personal choice led to disorder), etc. They are diseases too-and 1/100th the stigma, so they actually get treated. The only treatment I usually see for the addict is torture treatment- and it's toooooooooo widely accepted. No one doubts these are diseases.
    Last edit by Esme12 on Nov 15, '12
    NB19938, elkpark, cp1024, and 1 other like this.
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    Arguably, most of the diseases these days are caused by "lifestyle." If you start judging people by choices, there's very few places you could work without judgement interfering with care -- Peds Ocology? Being non-judgmental is critical for this career.
    VivaLasViejas, cp1024, runna909, and 2 others like this.
  11. 3
    Quote from PRICHARILLAisMISSED
    These addicts CHOSE to take whatever substance they are addicted to that first (or second, or third or 50th time...), knowing that the possibility of them becoming addicts existed.


    I'm not a nurse yet either (start NS next semester) but you can't roll all people into a nice little box like that so that it makes it easier for you to wrap your head around. And perhaps it sounds harsh for me to put it that way, but I just wanted to point out that not all people who are addicted/or have been addicted are that way because they took things illegally, or took pain pills they didn't need.
    Last edit by Esme12 on Nov 15, '12


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