A Nursing Skills Checklist

In our world, nurses have certain duties and responsibilities that they must uphold to be effective and compassionate caregivers.  However, given all the stresses that they are enduring right now, sometimes it is easy to let ourselves slip.  It is not exactly an excuse, perse, but an explanation for it right now.

 So, if we need a refresh on the skills that we need in this profession, where should we turn to?  One reflex might be to look at some of the national guidelines like this, there are more refined options out there as well.  If you want to know some of the things to remember and get some additional resources, stick around!

Some Key Skills

There is a lot I could cover here.  After all, there are so many specializations and distinct aspects of the nursing profession that it would be impossible to discuss them all today.  Instead, I’m going to offer you a curated list of what I find to be some of the most important ones.

Emergency Room

I’m covering this one first because it is probably the most important thing for professionals in this field today.  Especially given the COVID-19 pandemic – while the severity is lessened, there are still plenty of people who end up in the ER and require urgent, necessary care to save their lives. a nurse who waffles around and doesn’t know what to do causes more harm than good.

So, what are some examples of this?  Well, HIPAA is an obvious one, of course.  Some that we may not expect, though, is the necessity of understanding end-of-life care protocols or post-mortem ones.  This may include organ donation as well.

CPR and other care for patients in need of cardiac care is also a big one.  Recognizing the signs of a heart attack or a stroke can mean the difference between a life and death.  So, if you feel you should brush up on your nursing skills checklist, this might be a place to start.

Behavioral Health

While you may not be a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist, this does not mean that you should not be able to identify a mental or behavioral health crises.  This might include inpatient facility care, both in a hospital ward setting and at a psychiatric facility.  Unfortunately, many people end up in hospitals for something like eating disorders, which require particular care.

There are also a large number of protocols regarding this part of healthcare.  For example, informed consent is critical.  You should also know the difference between voluntary and involuntary commitment and familiarize yourself with restraint methods in case they are necessary.

A final note for this category is care for patients who experience seizures.  Knowing how to assist them is vital.  Do your best not to neglect learning any niches that you can.

Operating Room

If you are going to find yourself in an operating room (as you likely will), understanding the proper protocol is imperative.  Nurses are a critical part of many operations, as you can read about here: https://www.cerner.com/ae/en/blog/the-role-of-nurses-in-our-society-today.  So, being at the top of your game should be a top priority.

This does include informing patients and families of procedures that will be performed.  While doctors might do this as well, you will often serve as a liaison and resource for them.  Don’t forget that your responsibility is to the patient and their well-being. 

Having knowledge on things such as a gastrectomy and other similar ones can be a benefit as well.  When you’re looking to get hired at a hospital or other healthcare facility, you will probably be asked questions about your proficiencies.  Knowledge of these, and any gynecology experience that you may have as well, can boost your chances.

Home Health

I’ll round out this checklist today with the category of home health, which I feel often gets overlooked.  What most of us think of when we picture it is a nurse who visits an elderly person or persons in their house.  That is not entirely inaccurate, of course, but it is not the only situation where they are necessary and valued.

While it’s not the only responsibility in this part of nursing, you should still have a grasp on palliative care and what those entail.  It can be difficult to face, but it is an unfortunate burden of the profession.  The aid and joy you can bring to people in their final days is a reward all in its own.

Assistance for people who have disabilities is another relevant application for home health, though.  Sometimes, individuals just need assistance and cannot get to a hospital or do not want to for fear of being exposed to a sickness.  Accommodations should be readily available and provided in these cases, so this is a valuable skill to add to your toolbelt.

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