5 Habits Every Nurse Should Develop

by | Jan 23, 2017 | 26 comments

5 Habits Every Nurse Should DevelopNurses pick up things on the job. There are habits that nurses learn from other nurses that can be good. And then there are habits nurses develop that are not so good.

While we as nurses do learn from our educators, during our clinical rotations and in nursing textbooks, we pick up most of what we become as nurse professionals from real life experience.

So what are the habits that nurses should develop? How does a professional nurse handle themselves on the job?

[Tweet “Here are 5 Habits Every Nurse Should Develop”]

  1. 5 Habits Every Nurse Should DevelopBe Flexible. Nursing is a fast-paced career. Changes happen moment by moment. At any given second during your work day, POOF! Things can get turned upside down. A great nurse is flexible. Has their head on a swivel. Is able to adapt to a changing environment. The more you can stay nimble in your nursing career, the more success you will have.
  2. Help Out. Nursing is a team sport. Think about it. What nursing job is done alone? Completely and totally alone? I cannot think of one! If you can- please let us know what that nursing career looks like. Healthcare is about people helping people and working with other people. Nurses must interact with and work hand-in-hand with many team members.
  3. Show Respect. Human beings are unique individuals. Patients will come to you that you may or may not agree with. The patient or their family may have done things outside of the care environment that you do not like. Well, as a nurse you have to stay neutral and show respect. To your patients, their families, your colleagues… and guess what? Even to yourself! This is a human-based career and to work in nursing you have to expect diverse backgrounds and experiences.
  4. Listen. I love the statement about how we, as human beings, have one mouth and two ears. We need to listen more than we talk. As nurses, we can pick up SO much information… even outside of what the patient is actually saying. A great nurse listens to their gut reaction. Even when numbers or computers are telling you one thing… if you as the nurse think that something is off- listen to this! You will likely be right. And listen to what the patient is telling you, not telling you, and talking about even that does not pertain to their health. You will learn so much just from observing the people around you.
  5. Put Yourself First. As nurses we learn in nursing school to put everyone else first. It continues to our nursing career, as we precept in a new job. One of the common misconceptions in medicine is that the patient comes first. Well, if we do not take care of ourselves and give us what we need- we will not be able to take care of patients! Put yourself first and you will be able to give to others in a much bigger way.

What else? What did we miss? Would love to hear your thoughts on the habits that nurses should develop as professionals on the job. Leave a comment below and thanks for reading!

Elizabeth Scala, MSN/MBA, RN; Founder of Nursing from WithinAbout the Author: As a keynote speaker, bestselling author and virtual conference host, Elizabeth partners with hospitals, organizations, associations, and nursing groups to help transform the field of nursing from the inside out. In her bestselling book, ‘Nursing from Within‘, Elizabeth supports nurses to make those inner shifts that are required to more fully enjoy our nursing careers.

26 Comments

  1. Rain Wu

    Thanks for sharing !
    I so agree with “put yourself first”. When being a nurse for over thirteen years, my colleges and I are not well physically, we need painkillers, sleeping pills sometimes to continue work, we realized that how could we serve patients without health of our own.

    Reply
    • Elizabeth

      Hi there, thank you so much for your feedback and honesty. I am glad that you enjoyed the blog post. Feel free to share with your nursing colleagues! Enjoy the day.

      Reply
    • Jane Scribner-Oaks

      Great article! Hit home! After being in Nursing for over 30 yrs, have had to ‘learn’ the things mentioned in your article. Probably the hardest is #5-Taking care of myself! Shouldn’t be-should be #1, because when ‘we nurses’ take care of ourselves first-we have much more energy and compassion to share to our patients and their loved ones! Worked as a staff nurse many times and also as a travel nurse and agency nurse. The assignments where the staff “worked together” were the smoothest and most satisfying!

      Reply
      • Elizabeth

        Great point, Jane. I can definitely see moving #5 up to #1 on the list. I totally agree with you! So glad that you enjoyed the article. Thank you for your thoughtful comments and for sharing your nursing experiences with myself and the readers here!!

        Reply
  2. Ben

    Thank you for this post! It was spot on. I’ve been in healthcare since 1985 starting out as an nursing aide to orderly to Hospital Corpsman finally becoming an RN. I’ve been a staff nurse, shift supervisor,manager and director. Have worked the floors, ICU and have crossed trained to four specialties. Through it all I have always put the pts needs first, the employers second and mone last. This has resulted in two back surgeries. At present, I am off on medical because of needing to have an ankle fusion. I kept pushing for a year on a bad ankle out of staffing need of the employer for whom I work. Now, by the time I go back to work, I will have been off for 14 weeks. This has made me realize the need to put the need to care for myself first. Both so I can be there for my family as well as my patients. Thank you for re-enforcing this with this post.

    Reply
    • Elizabeth

      Wow, Ben. Thank you for sharing your nursing journey with us. You are not alone. Most of us tend to put patients first- only for this to cause us to become ill, get hurt, and ultimately miss/leave work. And- it is wonderful to hear that, at this point, your “burnout” (as we would call it) has informed you. Burnout is now being used in your best interest. You are learning from it. It is helping you grow, change, and improve your nursing practice. Let us know what support you will need or want. Taking care of us first is important… and sometimes it can get hard. As we fall back into old habits and routines. So keep us posted as you progress forward. And thank you for your input on this post. I am so glad that you enjoyed it. Enjoy your week.

      Reply
      • Whitney Teffeteller

        I started out as an LPN. I went to work at a hospital and obtained my RN. I confronted my biggest fear,was asked to work in the emergency room at the biggest hospital the only level 4 trauma ER. I was exceptional at this. A doctor came on the floor to write orders on a patient he was admotting he wrote an order and did not put the chart where it was supposed to be when new orders are written. Then he raise hell and chewed me out. I went to the Hispanic over and over to these ERs and they began to treat me as a drug seeker. I finally went to ER I had worked on the cardiac floor for 4 years. I told the ER doctor he needed to do a CT scan on my lungs because I was coughing all the time for 1 1/2 years. When my d-dimer was not right he did the CT of my lungs. He sent me home 3 days later I got a call that I had a small pulmonary embolism in both lungs and come back to ER. The pulmonologist told me,it was a good thing I was so persistent. I was passing out,throwing up, B/p was 210/120. I about died. But the ER nurses treated me like crap. Nurses judge their patients to much. I admitted a patient from the jail. The other nurses told me that’s the man who stabbed and killed his neighbor. I treated him with respect and dignity. I told the nursed he deserved the same nursing care as any other patients. I believe that is a more professional type of nursing.

        Reply
        • Elizabeth

          Hi Whitney,
          Thanks for coming by and sharing your experiences with us. Your comments are spot on. I actually have written two other blog posts along these lines, which you may enjoy. This one on different patient population types: http://elizabethscala.com/nursing-and-different-types-of-patient-populations/. And this one on if refusing a patient is possible: http://elizabethscala.com/can-a-nurse-refuse-to-care-for-a-patient/.

          As you will see from these posts, I agree with you. And the second post, the post that discusses patient refusal and nursing rights, received a lot of conversation.

          It is a tricky topic. However, I am with you on this. If we go into nursing that means we agree to care for any and all patient. We treat patients with respect and do not judge them based on life style or choices. Thank you for your comments and for being that kind of nurse that treats all people with dignity!

          Elizabeth

          Reply
  3. Michelle A Cockrell

    You nailed it on the head! We give so much of ourselves to others and consistently put ourselves on the back burner. Sometimes it seems difficult to carry so many hats and engage in self care. Experience has taught me that self care is a vital component of our ability to continue running full steam otherwise you run the risk of burnout. I appreciate this article and reminders.

    Reply
    • Elizabeth

      Thank you very much, Michelle. I am glad that you enjoyed this post and hope that you will share it with the nurses you know. Appreciate the feedback!

      Reply
  4. kris sendelbach RN

    Very well done Elizabeth. I’d like to highlight two of the habits I don’t see completed enough. Nursing is a team sport. We need to help each other out. We are good at including the patient but poor in helping each other accomplish the work that takes ore than one person to do/finish. Secondly, take care of yourself first. If we don’t do this, we are not good for our own health/well-being or for caring for another person. Keep encouraging us. One day we accomplish this work. I have watched this scene play over and over during my 43 years in nursing. Some of us are actually listening now. Our next step is to incorporate it into our daily lives and practice. This is our challenge.

    Reply
    • Elizabeth

      Great additions! Thank you for sharing them with us, Kris. Appreciate your feedback. Feel free to share this post with your colleagues and the nursing students that you know.

      Reply
  5. Michelle Briley

    Having been an RN since 1993, I valued each of these habits except one….taking care of self. Now am paying for it. Please educate new nurses and current nurses of the importance of taking care of self first SO they can care for others!

    Reply
    • Elizabeth

      Thanks, Michelle!!

      Reply
  6. Cindy Jenkins, BSN, RN, CEN, CPN, CPEN

    Great article! You have nailed it in a very short but thorough way. I have been a nurse for 28 years and an educator most of that. If there is anything I would add, I would add that above all to strive for peace. What I mean by that is if it’s not about you or you’re not involved, then stay out of it. Or if you are involved, then just know that being right is highly overrated. I’m going to print this out and post it at work. Thank you for such a well written article!

    Reply
    • Elizabeth

      Great additions, Cindy. And thank you for printing and sharing with your colleagues! So glad that you enjoyed this post.

      Reply
  7. Tracey Pascarella, MSNEd, BSN,RN

    Nurses are awesome, females are awesome and female nurses are super awesome!
    We should all help each other, support each other. We choose this profession for a reason and to help guide another nurse in his/her journey is a task we should all take on without a moments hesitation.

    Reply
    • Elizabeth

      Agreed, Tracey! Thank you!!

      Reply
  8. Cindy Conrad

    As a nursing school instructor to first and second semester clinical rotation students, I am reading this article to them. Every single one of these points is so true, and I provide them with real life examples! Thank you for this!

    Reply
    • Elizabeth

      Hello Cindy, Thank you very much for sharing your comment. I am THRILLED, thrilled, thrilled to hear that you will be reading this article to nursing students. Keep on doing a great job! Thank you for teaching our new nurses in this way!

      Reply
  9. Laninia Raglin RN

    Well done

    Reply
    • Elizabeth

      Thanks, glad you enjoyed the post! Feel free to share.

      Reply
  10. Amina

    As I am OT manager i will ready this article to my nurses really this Great article.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Elizabeth

      Thanks so much! Glad you are sharing!!

      Reply
  11. Shadira Monsanto

    great article

    Reply
    • Elizabeth

      Thanks!!

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.