What non-clinical nursing skill do you whish you would have learned in nursing school


I am graduating on may 7 and i wanted to know if there is any non-clinical skills that nursing school doent prepare you for and how will it help me. and are there any other skills that would have helped if they had taught them in nursing school.

grimmy, RN

349 Posts

i am graduating on may 7 and i wanted to know if there is any non-clinical skills that nursing school doent prepare you for and how will it help me. and are there any other skills that would have helped if they had taught them in nursing school.

how to adequately take care of my own stress...how to come home, and leave work at work. and, what to do if i can't. i think nurses are the among the worst professionals at taking care of themselves. we ask for help last ("i'm not that sick") or we engage in self-defeating behaviors. kudos to those of us that have worked out this issue for ourselves, and walk the walk and talk the talk. we can't help others if we allow ourselves to fall to pieces.

the second skill set i wish i saw in many of my fellow students was assertiveness training. i took workshops in this several times (a career or two back) and it is soooo important, especially when you're having to do your patient advocate thing with someone that has no interest in your opinion...like a physician or a family member. the differences between being aggressive, being assertive, and being passive are huge, and precious few know that difference. it can save your sanity.

Specializes in CCU (Coronary Care); Clinical Research.

Grimmy had some good points.

Another non clinical nursing skill that it seems that many are not blessed with is basic common sense. Sometimes, I think people are just born without it. Other times, I think nurses get so stressed out, especially if things are going bad and try to analyze way too much info instead of just staying calm and thinking and using that common sense.

I also think that interpersonal communication is important. Nursing is all about communication-> with patients, famililes, doctors, other ancillary personnel, your co-workers, managers, etc. Knowing/Learning how to relate to others will get you a long way and probably save you some headaches...

Long Term Care Columnist / Guide

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

142 Articles; 9,982 Posts

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 26 years experience.

What they said. :yeahthat:

Specializes in 5 yrs OR, ASU Pre-Op 2 yr. ER.

Therapeutic communications with physicians.

And, like someone already said, how to cope with my own stress. I've learned on my own, but a few tips in school could have been beneficial.


652 Posts

ditto all the responses!

one of the hardest things for me has been dealing with pts/family/coworker attitudes ..trying to remain calm and professional when you'd LOVE to rip them a new one! ;)

llg, PhD, RN

13,469 Posts

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 46 years experience.

Great question! ... and I heartily agree with the above responses. Sometimes students and new nurses are so focused on the technical skills, that they fail to appreciate the importance of the other skills that are needed to build a successful career. A good employer can and will teach you most of the technical skills that you will need for your job.

I'll add another "skill" to the list -- career management skills. Too many nurses think only in terms of "what job fits my desires right now" and don't look to the future and develop a plan for career development that will satisfy them over the course of many years. They fail to do the things early in their careers that will set themselves up for success later.

For example ... they stop learning and growing ... they avoid trying new things ... they make political enemies ... they don't consider the types of roles that they might like to have in 10 or 20 years and therefore don't get the preparation they need to qualify for those roles. They don't manage their money well and later find themselves dissatisfied with their situation.

Thanks for raising such an important topic.

Good luck in your career.


leslie :-D

11,191 Posts

i agree with all the responses and need to add that i wish i had learned about all of the ethical situations i've encountered in nsg. so many gray situations and there just was not any focus on the many ethical situations one encounters as a nurse.


Trauma Columnist

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN

153 Articles; 21,232 Posts

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU. Has 31 years experience.

The biggest thing I've learned on my own is not to believe anything anyone tells you - at least in the ER. Take everything with a grain of salt.

madwife2002, BSN, RN

74 Articles; 4,777 Posts

Specializes in RN, BSN, CHDN. Has 26 years experience.

To have a great sense of humour :)

and wear a steel proof vest for all the back stabbing that goes on

Hellllllo Nurse, BSN, RN

3 Articles; 3,563 Posts

Has 15 years experience.

I agree with everything everyone one else has said, but especially:

Charge nurse/managerial skills

Assertiveness training

Other skills I wished I learned in school include how to trouble-shoot/refill fax and copy machines. I have to deal with these office machines and problems with them all the time, and this is true for all the areas of nursing that I've worked in.


559 Posts

Asking the nurses I am working with whether the question I had for the doctor was one I should call for. Many times it is not. Gotta learn!

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