Unfortunately, the role of nurses is often underestimated, despite the fact that these healthcare professionals must have a great number of skills and competences such as excellent knowledge of medicine, ability to communicate with people of various backgrounds, leadership, quick decision-making and, most importantly, compassionate attitude toward the patient. Without these qualities, one definitely should not start a nursing career, as it will be a disaster both for him and his patients. This paper aims to discuss those standards and expectations that registered nurses (RN) have to meet on a daily basis. Furthermore, it is necessary to show the steps which a person should take, if he/she wants to become an RN. In order to write this essay, I have interviewed Kathie Shankley, a close friend of mine and a practicing nurse.
She agreed to speak about her work in a community hospital. She believes that the most difficult thing for her is the wide scope nurse’s duties. My friend says, “It sometimes seems to me that I must do more than ten things at a time”.
Judging from this statement, one can assume that a registered nurse must be able to prioritize the tasks in terms of their importance and urgency. Moreover, a nurse must be able to keep ones composure in critical moments. In Kathie’s view, a person, who does not have these abilities, “should think twice or even thrice” whether he wants to pursue a career in medicine or not. The thing is that there are moments when you have to act on the spur of the moment, and not everyone can do it.
Another thing, which Kathie finds particularly challenging, is the necessity to find an approach to every patient. She points out that “language barrier can really be a great obstacle sometimes”. According to Kathie, if a person is bilingual, he/she will really have an advantage over others. Thus, it is quite possible to argue that cross-cultural education is of great importance for all medical workers, not only nurses. This is one of the reasons why medical students should study a foreign language. This is particularly relevant for such country as the United States, where people can speak Spanish, Italian, Russian and so forth.
The knowledge of foreign language can be of great avail for an RN, although this is not a must. Moreover, a registered nurse must be well-aware of the most recent research findings as this knowledge can greatly improve the quality of patient care. The thing is that treatment methods constantly evolve, a healthcare professional must always read books and academic journal in order to “stay in the forefront and be in the know”, as Kathie noted. She also urged future nurses not to overlook their math classes because a RN has to know how to analyze statistical data. This is one of those skills, which one has to acquire, if he/she intends to take this career path. Kathie says that many nurses fail to achieve professional growth, because they do not take much interest in the on-going medical research. Although, being a registered nurse is very prestigious, one must bear in mind that the responsibilities of these people are much heavier because they work in intensive care units and operation rooms and supervise the activities of other nurses. To become an RN, one should obtain Master’s or at least Bachelor’s degree.
Again, as it has been mentioned before, a nurse must be versed in many areas of study: medicine, psychology, chemistry, pharmacology statistics and so forth. Without appropriate academic background, one can hope of becoming an RN. Kathie believes that the would-be students should carefully evaluate the training programs, offered by various schools of nursing as this choice can greatly impact their professional growth as well as salary. During our conversation, I have also asked Kathie about the rewards of this profession or those things which bring joy and satisfaction.
I intentionally avoided asking questions about monetary compensation, as I was more interested in the reasons why people decide to pursue the career of a nurse. I am not quite sure that Kathie’s answer was very elaborate; she said, “I just wanted to help people who are ill, and I’m really glad when they recover”. After a moment of hesitation she added “You know, it’s one of those things that are very difficult to explain”. Therefore, we can presume that an RN ought to feel compassion for the patient, and this is one of those in-born qualities which can be neither acquired nor elaborated.
In this paper I have tried to single out those skills, competencies and psychological traits that a student must have in order to become a registered nurse. There are as follows: 1) excellent knowledge of various interrelated disciplines; 2) ability to communicate with people of various cultural and ethnic origins; 3) cool-headedness; 4) willingness to improve one’s professional skills and 4) genuine desire to help other people. One can hardly imagine an RN or other healthcare giver without these properties.