When you’re in nursing school, your clinicals give you the essential hands-on nursing skills that form the basis of the start of your nursing career. But while you’re learning how to do the million and one tasks nurses do, take this great opportunity to sharpen other career skills.
While it might seem like the day is filled with so much information that you can’t remember one more thing, a nursing student is in a great position to pay attention to how everything, and everyone, else contributes to a smoothly running unit.
What kinds of things are worth noting?
Watch how colleagues work with each other, and notice any differences within the hierarchy of the staff. See what works when nurses have conflicts. Do they work it out with help? Do they get others involved and make it uncomfortable? In your working life, you are guaranteed to have a few differences of opinion and learning to resolve them effectively is worth your time.
It won’t take long to notice who has professional behavior and work habits that are worth adopting. Watch for the people who always arrive on time and are ready to get to work. Do others react to them differently? Are they in higher positions? What are their habits throughout the day? Modeling your behavior after nurses who display professionalism will help get your career off to a good start.
Are some of the nurses on staff also going back to school to get advanced degrees? If they are and you know that is something you might do in the future, ask one of them for an informational interview. This is a great opportunity to ask about how they got into the school, what suggestions they have for you, how they figured out financial aid, and how they balance their work lives, home lives, and school.
Techniques with Patients
Some nurses just seem to have a soothing power. Others are able to deal with especially difficult patients. Still others have a knack for motivating patients who are in pain or who feel too sick to do much of anything. How do they do what they do so well? Watch their movements and listen to how they talk to patients. Take note of how they develop a rapport or possibly distract patients so they are comfortable. Always work to improve your own nursing techniques.
Having success as a nurse depends on more than just proper medical training. It’s also about the overall habits you develop along the way. Notice how nurses’ daily work habits make them more efficient, help the entire unit, or make families or colleagues feel comfortable.
Your clinical experience is a time when you can see (and copy) the good judgment nurses use and the mannerisms and habits they develop to make their work better, faster, or more efficient.
We all know coworkers who seem to have a foot into everything going on. These good employees are running meetings, always on time for work, ready to proof a quick email, or help you study for an exam. How do they do it all? Well, they have learned that being reliable is a sure-fire way to become indispensable at work. And when you’re indispensable, it makes it easier to take on more responsibility and more complicated work. In short, your career will move forward faster.
Do you want to become a good employee or (even better) – indispensable? Here are five ways to get started:
1. Be There No Matter What
We’re not talking about going to work with a fever or when a family member is in crisis. Those things happen and when they do, you don’t need to be at work. What we’re talking about is showing up 15 minutes late for your shift three days a week because you got stuck in traffic, again. Or not coming in because you’re irritated at the way your schedule has changed. Being dependable is the first step to being indispensable. When people know they can count on you, they will trust you with more responsibility. Plan for traffic. Work out any nagging issues. Just do whatever it takes to be a reliable employee.
2. Ask Questions
Not sure how to operate a new piece of equipment or manage a new employee? The smartest people ask questions. If you are afraid of asking questions because you think it makes you look dumb, think of what making a huge error will look like. It’s better to ask questions until you understand something. Knowledge brings understanding and a better work quality. Without those, you can’t differentiate yourself from anyone else.
3. Do More
Within reason, do more than what’s expected. It’s pretty simple. This isn’t always a clear cut way of thinking, so use your own judgment. Don’t be the person who gets thrown every tiny task because you can be counted on to suck up where everyone slacks off. That’s just being a professional doormat. But can you volunteer to look into the benefits of a new scheduling app and present a report about it? Can you stay an extra hour during crunch time if you’re able to? Giving a little extra helps others take notice of your professionalism when it counts.
4. Be the Cheerleader
Always speak positively about your organization in front of others. You can gripe all you want at home or to a couple of your most trusted, non-work friends, but when you’re at work, keep your attitude optimistic (if you’re in a really bad spot, then at least stay neutral). If you want to move ahead in your organization, know that management looks for people who are going to move their goals forward, not someone who resents the structure or regulations. If you have a valid complaint, bring it to your manager, don’t just mutter about it to colleagues.
5. Share Your Knowledge
Did you just complete a specialty certification course? Have you recently traveled or worked internationally and are bursting with new ideas or concepts? Do you have great study tips to pass on? Formally sharing your knowledge, through a lunch seminar, an after work gathering, or even a tip sheet, is a great way to help colleagues and boost your professional reputation. Everyone can learn something new and freely sharing what you just learned and tailoring it to the needs of your unit or department is a good way to help the organization as a whole.
Being indispensable takes effort. But if you want to get ahead, effort matters – a lot.
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