Top 10 Most Fabulous Nursing Habits


Thanks for the feedback on my last post, “Top Ten Most Awful Nursing Habits.”  I couldn’t be happier to hear that nurses’ bad habits aren’t observed daily, and strong nursing care is.  This blog is dedicated to complimenting nurses for all the good habits that are often overlooked.

Florence Nightingale had pretty darn good habits.

I talk often about patients’ perceptions and patients’ complaints, but patients also mail to hospitals the most gracious and appreciative letters of thanks.  (Keep them coming!) One that meant a lot to me was in response to a situation on March 16th, 2008.  I was the primary nurse for a man who came into the ER with spontaneous back pain, which quickly proved to be much more complicated as his blood pressure dropped and a recent cancer history turned out to be his real problem.  He was in his 60s, his daughter happened  to be a nurse, and she  was extremely involved at his bedside as the entire family quickly grasped the grim realities that they were facing with their father.  Multiple IVs were inserted and a morphine drip begun, cardiologist and oncologists were at the bedside. The family’s emotions were evident as they discussed end-of-life decisions – issues like whether or not powerful medications or CPR should be used, if necessary, to keep him alive -- with their father.”  I remember stepping out of the room feeling just as much emotion -- a man who had walked to the ER and into my care was more than likely not walking out.  I escorted the family to our hospice unit, and later learned that he had passed away early the next morning.  Two weeks later, his daughter sent me a three-page letter of thanks, and the sentiment remains with me to this day.

Even nurses who work in an office setting can have a huge impact on patients’ experiences and the delivery of skilled care.  Not all nurses are like Nurse Jackie or Nurse Ratched.  And not all nurses are at work to pursue the hot George Clooney a.k.a. Dr. Ross, who exists only in the fabulous world of TV dramas.  Real nurses are more ethical and purposeful and earning recognition for our profession. Americans  regularly rate nurses “very high” or “high” on ethics and honesty in Gallup's Annual Honesty and Ethics Survey,  placing them in the top spot --   and outshining  military officers, pharmacists, doctors, veterinarians, clergy, and several other professions – almost  every year  since  1999. (The exception was 2001, when firefighters were top- rated, perhaps influenced by their heroism on Sept. 11.)

So I wanted to create a list of the Top 10 Most Fabulous Nursing Habits (or Attributes) …

  1. Nurses are holistic by training, caring for the physical body but also the mind and the spirit.
  2. Nurses stay calm under immediate pressure.
  3. Nurses often work with limited resources and must learn how to best utilize staff and supplies.
  4. Nurses educate while they work.
  5. Nurses graciously take on roles above and beyond their regular duties, such as case manager, counselor, and lactation specialist. (The day after I delivered my son, the dayshift nurse showed me how to breastfeed. The hospital did not have a lactation nurse at the time).  
  6. Nurses know how to prioritize, and how to assess a patient from just a glance across the room.
  7. Nurses are solution-seekers-- they want to help, to be gentle and to have a happy ending.
  8. Nurses are leaders. As the most-direct patient care providers, nurses have valuable insights to share and they know how to effectively get a job done.
  9. Nurses don’t presume to know everything, but take pride in finding their niche and specialized patient care.
  10. Nurses are like “professional mothers” in the community.

Do you agree? Please post additions to the list.