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Importance of Soft Skills in Nursing

Nurses in an RN to BSN program graduate with expanded medical knowledge and improved clinical skills. Comprehensive preparation is necessary in order for nurses to keep up with the complex evolution in healthcare. Not only do nurses have to be clinically competent, they also must know how to relate to patients so they can improve the chances for better outcomes.

What Are Soft Skills?

To work productively and effectively, employees in all industries such as healthcare, business, technology and retail need to have strong soft skills along with their job-related proficiencies. Examples of common soft skills are:

  • Communication
  • Critical thinking
  • Leadership
  • Positivity
  • Professionalism

Why Are Soft Skills Crucial in Nursing?

Soft skills are a crucial component in nursing because they foster a collaborative, respectful and efficient workforce. Nurses without soft skills may fail to properly interact with patients, coworkers and other healthcare professionals, which may jeopardize a patient's health by obstructing the flow of care.

The Soft Skills Results and Analysis survey conducted by the Hawaii Research and Statistics Office asked employers which soft skills they considered most valuable. The industries surveyed included construction, healthcare, hospitality and information technology (IT). Employers in healthcare ranked these four soft traits as the most essential.

  • Communication
  • Empathy
  • Listening
  • Strong work ethic

Are Soft Skills Part of the Standards in Nursing?

Yes. Soft skills are a critical part of nursing. The American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACCN) regards soft skills as integral to nursing standards. According to the AACCN Standards for Establishing and Sustaining Healthy Work Environments, soft skills are necessary for ensuring safe patient care, staff recruitment and retention, and the viability of a healthcare organization. The AACCN promotes these standards and corresponding soft skills as being necessary to create a healthy workplace.

AACN Skill SoftSkill
Skilled communication Effective communication
Meaningful recognition Enthusiasm
True collaboration Teamwork
Effective decision-making Problem-solving, critical thinking
Authentic leadership Professionalism, integrity

Why Is It Important That Nurses Have Soft Skills?

A nurse's job is to deliver care and protect patient's rights in a professional manner. Nothing in healthcare is successfully accomplished without good written and verbal communication. Especially because nurses often work as part of a team that includes other nurses, staff, physicians and other healthcare workers. A multidisciplinary team may be filled with a variety of personalities so nurses must not be afraid to contribute their nursing expertise and advocate for patients.

Patients who feel dismissed or struggle to comprehend their diagnosis and treatment options may become confused, agitated or unresponsive, which can affect their well-being. Nurses must show confidence in their abilities and take the time to dutifully convey information to patients so they understand their conditions and the interventions available to them.

Through the use of soft skills, nurses can effectively communicate with others and boost patient satisfaction. Here are some ways nurses can build good relationships with patients.

  • Demonstrate cultural sensitivity.
  • Acknowledge a patient's values and preferences.
  • Listen attentively.
  • Make eye contact when talking to patients.
  • Sit instead of standing over a patient lying in bed.
  • Motivate and educate patients about managing their medical condition.
  • Show empathy to patients.
  • Use different methods such as conversations, pamphlets, videos and demonstrations to explain a patient's condition, what to expect during procedures, and how to carry out aftercare.

Nursing is a fast-paced profession so nurses have to be flexible to ever-changing circumstances. While nurses may be introduced to the concepts of soft skills in nursing school, it usually takes time to develop and refine them. Often, nurse leaders and managers act as role models and mentors to help RNs strengthen their soft skills. Also, nursing leadership can offer training programs to teach the soft skills that nurses need to connect with patients and provide quality care.

Learn more about EIU's online RN to BSN program.


Sources:

Scrubs Mag: 6 Soft Skills Necessary for Hardworking Nurses

American Association of Critical-Care Nurses: AACN Standards for Establishing and Sustaining Healthy Work Environments

American Nurse Today: Fostering Soft Skills Is a Must for Nurse Leaders

NurseGrid: How to Teach and Learn Soft Skills

Department of Labor and Industrial Relations: Soft Skills: Survey Results and Analysis

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