Some basic nursing skills include the ability to record a patient's medical history, administer medication, set up patient care plans, observe and record a patient's condition, and consult with doctors and other health professionals regarding a patient's care and treatment. Nurses must also know how to operate medical equipment, perform diagnostic tests, interpret test results, teach patients and their kin about managing illness, and give instructions for ongoing at-home care and treatment.
In addition to basic nursing skills, nurses also need to have critical-thinking skills, compassion, emotional stability, organizational skills and physical stamina. Critical-thinking skills come into play when nurses assess changes in the health status of a patient and must make decisions such as when to take proactive action or make a referral. Nurses also need to have compassion and sympathy when caring for the sick and interacting with family members. Emotional stability is necessary to cope with the daily exposure to human suffering, emergencies, and the stress of working in a busy and often undermanned work environment.
Because nurses normally care for multiple patients with various needs, organizational skills are crucial in making sure that every patient gets timely and proper care. The job can be physical, requiring nurses to perform physical tasks such as lifting and moving patients. Nurses also need to have teamwork skills because patient care almost always involves other healthcare providers.