5 necessary skills you weren’t taught in nursing school

Learning how to care for patients isn’t all you need to know to be successful

8 essential nursing skills, according to the American Nurses Association

You see the stories all the time — What I wish I’d learned in … (insert various scenarios here). No matter how much we’re taught, we know a situation will arise we weren’t prepared for.

The same goes for nursing school. Students learn what they need to know to care for patients, but those aren’t the only skills needed to be successful.

“Sometimes the non-clinical, non-nursing, non-medical stuff is what really can make or break a shift,” Nurse.org wrote, identifying five skills new nurses say wish they’d learned in school.

Those skills are:


Nurses are expected to communicate verbally and in writing, as well as gather orders from the computer, assess patients physically and through family history and charts, and interact with other health care workers.

“Good communication means entering each interaction with patients, coworkers and management with the intention of understanding, listening, and addressing concerns, questions and opinions,” the nursing site wrote.

Some tips for better communication include:

  • Speak clearly and avoid medical jargon when talking with patients and their families.
  • Maintain eye contact.
  • Put yourself on the same level as the patient. Try to avoid talking down to them.
  • Avoid calling the patient “sweetie” or “honey.” Instead, ask them how they’d like to be addressed.


We’ve all heard the saying, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” Unfortunately — or maybe fortunately — that’s just not feasible.

It’s not always easy to assign tasks to others, however, especially if they are older or more experienced. But you want to ensure you have the right person doing the right task in every circumstance, so it’s important to be able to delegate responsibilities.


Knowing how to negotiate your salary, vacation days and bonuses is a skill everyone — including nurses — should know.

Nurse.org points out a few things to keep in mind before signing your first nursing contract:

  • Salary
  • Bonuses
  • Vacation days
  • Insurance benefits
  • Scheduling
  • Noncompete clause
  • Orientation


Sometimes it’s time to move on. How you leave a job can determine whether you’ll ever be rehired by the hospital or facility.

Be sure you know how much notice you’re required to give — some places require more than the standard two weeks notice. Keep your letter of resignation professional so you don’t burn any bridges behind you.


Every job comes with conflict in some form. Trying to manage workplace conflicts can be a daunting task, but you can learn how.

“Conflict resolution is how strong nurses and leaders are made. Because communication is a large part of the nursing profession, conflict is readily found throughout shifts,” Nurse.org wrote. “Reducing workplace conflict helps keep patients safe, boosts morale, and increases shift efficiency.”

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