HEALTH & FITNESS

Advanced Clinical Skills For The Nursing Student To Adopt In 2024

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The healthcare industry today is growing steadily as people live longer and need more specialized nursing care to deal with the chronic illnesses that come with old age. A shift is taking place in the way healthcare is administered and the type of nursing that is needed. Today’s student nurses graduate with a specialized set of evidence-based skills that will take them into the future of excellent patient care.

Technology is advancing at a fast rate, bringing with it changes that necessitate an ethos of lifelong learning among medical professionals and nurses. As they strive to keep up with the advances in pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, their knowledge and skills improve, and they are elevated to new professional heights within their chosen careers.

RN to MSN in one step

In an effort to keep up with the nursing shortage in the US, various institutions are offering a training course that fast-tracks nursing education so that registered nurses (RNs) can become fully trained as nurse practitioners with a master of science in nursing (MSN) qualification, bypassing the need to first do their bachelor’s degree. 

The RN to MSN fast-track option is both cost-effective and saves time while providing excellent tuition with proactive support and guidance. As a registered nurse with one year’s experience, you may like to consider one of the online RN to MSN programs offered by Wilkes University, with a choice of specialization in one of the following areas: family nursing care, adult-gerontology primary care, or psychiatric mental health.

The stress of finding clinical placement facilities is taken care of by the university’s placement team, and students also enjoy the privilege of having a dedicated success counselor to see them through their journey from enrollment to final graduation. 

The sought-after nurse practitioner role

What is it that makes the job of nurse practitioner (NP) such a popular choice amongst nurses when considering their future studies?

Qualified NPs can open their own practice in most states today. Alternatively, they can work in a practice where they are the first line of support for patients needing primary care. They may order tests such as X-rays or CAT scans, analyze the results, and treat the patient accordingly. They prescribe medicines, draw up healthcare plans, give medical advice, and refer more complex cases to a general practitioner or specialist.

NPs can be found practicing in clinical settings, community facilities, homes for the elderly, institutions for people with physical and mental disabilities, research facilities, and more.

Advanced clinical skills

With their wide scope of practice comes a great deal of responsibility and a unique set of skills. Nursing today is geared towards evidence-based interventions with an emphasis on patient satisfaction. Here, we delve into some of the advanced clinical skills that are second nature to nurses who follow their calling in this field.

Value-based healthcare

With an emphasis on the patient’s well-being, value-based care is the collaboration, communication, and cooperation between healthcare professionals to ensure comprehensive treatment of the patient with the best possible outcomes. In some institutions, a cost-effective solution may be factored in too, particularly in the case of solutions that apply to patients with similar needs, but this is not an essential component of value-based care.

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Nurse leadership

Leadership is something that comes naturally to some people, but not to everyone. For those whom it does not come naturally, leadership skills and confidence in your abilities can be learned and improved through years of experience. When you are in a situation that requires critical thinking and decision-making, your knowledge of the subject empowers you to take control and make decisions. 

Good nurse leaders inspire their colleagues to learn and achieve their goals. Leaders share the decision-making, thus improving the expertise and self-confidence of their fellow nurses. They promote ethical practices and demonstrate a commitment to excellence, encouraging those around them to do the same.

Nurse leaders also build relationships with their staff and with various medical professionals, encouraging a multidisciplinary approach to patient care. They coordinate teams of people who can provide a holistic solution to patient care with positive patient outcomes.

Evidence-based nursing

The trend in nursing today is towards evidence-based practice. This involves research into nursing methods and their efficiency in terms of good patient outcomes. This research, together with existing knowledge and experience, can be combined to formulate nursing best practices. Nurse practitioners who come up with evidence-based practices that outperform current ones can motivate a procedure change that will require nurses in their institution to follow the new practice.

This all happens with the patient’s best interests and values in mind. If you think you may have come up with a better way of doing something, you should discuss it with your manager or supervisor. You will need to follow these steps, which will act as guidelines:

  • Establish the exact nature of the patient’s illness or discomfort.
  • Search clinical records for the best evidence of satisfactory treatment of a similar ailment.
  • Make sure your resources are valid and of reputable quality.
  • Apply this research to a clinical procedure, combining it with your personal experience and knowledge.

Assess the outcomes to determine the success of the exercise, using critical-based thinking and analysis skills to help you decide whether the new procedure would be of value in your clinical environment.

Analytical and critical thinking skills

Nurses are trained to think for themselves and to react quickly when required to do so. Nurses who have the ability to analyze a situation and act upon their thinking may be able to avert a potentially negative situation. This type of interaction usually comes with experience and should be discussed with the rest of the team if possible before making an incorrect diagnosis.

Nurses should also be able to assess a situation and act upon it. Critical thinking involves calculating or weighing up a situation or problem and being able to solve it logically.

Technology

In addition to the basic nursing skills such as making the patient comfortable, attending to medication and dressings, and seeing to the patient’s cleanliness and hygiene, nurses also need to have a sound understanding of the technology that they work with. Computerized machines play an important role in the daily care and monitoring of patients, and continued training is required for nurses to keep abreast of technological changes in their environment.

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Technology is also being used increasingly in long-distance medical care. Medical staff can consult with patients in a different location with the help of computer monitors and communications software, and sometimes even diagnostic equipment. 

Accessing patient data and maintaining patient health records are also essential parts of the job. With advances in data analytics and data warehousing, patient records have become quite comprehensive, enabling the accessibility of patients’ historical medical records and aiding research. Nurse practitioners may also decide to move into a facility where they can utilize their nursing experience to benefit medical research.

Essential skills for students and nurses

There are many nursing skills that are inherent in a student nurse’s character or have been instilled during their childhood, such as empathy and cleanliness. Other skills are simple to adopt, and with a bit of practice, they become second nature.

Communication and empathy

Good communication skills include talking to and educating patients and their families about the patient’s condition and how to administer medication or change dressings. Nurses help patients and their family members understand the implications of the patient’s illness and the interventions being administered.

Communication skills are particularly important when patients and their families have a language or cultural difference, as this often leads to confusion and sometimes a refusal to be treated. This situation needs to be handled with sensitivity, considering the patient’s religious and cultural beliefs and wishes. Healthcare professionals need to explain the importance of the proposed medical intervention and the possible consequences should the patient refuse treatment.

Empathy is an essential part of being a nurse. The ability to place themselves in other people’s situations gives nurses a better understanding of the patient’s issues, and it is this same understanding that helps the nurse find a solution and ease any anxiety that the patient might feel. Patients who are comfortable and happy have a better chance of improvement.

Interpersonal skills and teamwork

Nurses need to get along with their fellow colleagues on all levels. Demonstrating interpersonal skills such as dependability, responsibility, patience, cooperation, flexibility, and a good work ethic will go a long way when interacting with fellow team members in a busy clinical environment. Showing some compassion when fellow workers are tired after a difficult day or under extreme pressure helps to build stronger teams and can also single out nurses with natural leadership abilities.

Teamwork is a skill that students need to practice as it is an essential part of successful patient outcomes. The importance of having a team that works well together cannot be stressed enough. If a team is pulling in different directions, the outcome will be disastrous. It sometimes takes effort on the part of the leader to get a team working efficiently, where each member has specific tasks and everyone knows what to expect from themselves and their fellow team players.

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Attention to detail

Paying careful attention at all times and picking up on the slightest detail can save lives in a medical situation. When assessing a patient’s condition, nurses need to take even the slightest irregularity into account or listen attentively to what the patient is saying. Paying attention when you are tired after a long day’s work is not always easy, but picking up on irregularities will become second nature with experience.

Resilience and adaptability

Nurses need to be resilient in the face of long working hours and extremely stressful situations. They should be able to adapt to an emergency situation at a moment’s notice and take control where necessary.

Nurses who don’t care for themselves are more likely to suffer from anxiety and breakdowns when the going gets tough. As a busy nurse or student, get into the habit of taking time out for yourself so that you are physically and mentally strong enough to deal with whatever the job brings your way.

Patient safety and the prevention of infection

Cleanliness is key in a hospital environment. Always wash your hands before and after working with a patient. Never cough or sneeze without placing your hand in front of your mouth or nose and wash your hands afterwards. This prevents the spreading of germs. If you are not well, it is better to stay at home than pass your cold or flu on to patients whose health is already compromised. Or wear a mask, even if you are not required to do so.

Eliminate waste quickly and efficiently, using the receptacles provided. Wash your hands after handling waste that can be hazardous to the health of your patient.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) should be worn whenever working with patients and discarded properly after use. The reuse of face masks could put you at risk of picking up an infection.

How can students adopt these practices?

Most of the points discussed above should eventually become habits when you have a year or two of nursing experience. However, now is the time to adopt these habits and make them yours. That way, your transition from nursing school to a clinical environment will be almost seamless.

Observe your senior nurses and mentors and make an effort to practice the important skills each day. Network with fellow students or fellow nurses, ensuring good relationships and establishing a support system for times when you need to discuss your difficult day at work.

Above all, take care of yourself so that you, your patients, and your colleagues can work together happily and harmoniously.

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