The nursing shortage has reached an all-time high in Missouri hospitals. According to a 2017 Workforce Report by the Missouri Hospital Association, what started out as an 8 percent vacancy in positions in January 2016 doubled to nearly 16 percent by early 2017, and the number of open positions is expected to continue to climb.
Targeting high school and young college students may not be enough to keep pace with the growing shortage. Educators should also look to working adults or those out of the workforce that may have always dreamed of a career in nursing.
If you have ever wondered whether nursing is a good fit for you, here are some of the characteristics associated with success in this important line of work:
The best nurses tend to have empathetic dispositions. Since nurses often have more contact with patients than any other hospital staff member, they play a major role in shaping patients’ experiences.
Nurses who can demonstrate concern for their patients’ condition, and exhibit a kindhearted attitude, are the nurses who represent the hospital well and make patients glad they chose to get treated at that location. For a nurse, the quality of service provided is measured by the care with which patients are treated.
Patients can easily become distraught, upset or frustrated due to the pain or difficult situation they are battling during their stay in the hospital.
Great nurses remain professional and treat every patient with dignity and respect through every situation. They never form assumptions about their patients based on the age, gender, race or socio-economic background. Instead, they consider each patient a fellow human in need of assistance and aim to provide that assistance to the best of their ability.
While nurses are patient-facing, they are also responsible for being the link between patient and doctor. To communicate well with patients, other medical professionals and doctors, nurses need to listen and speak well. When nurses can consistently relay the most accurate and pertinent information to doctors, they make hospital procedures more efficient.
Nurses should also possess strong attention to detail in order to anticipate patient needs. When reading a patient’s charts and evaluating their conditions, nurses, like doctors, need to be aware of the nuances of their symptoms, as well as any life-threatening problems that may call for immediate action.
An effective nurse is action-oriented and quick to respond. Since nurses are managing multiple patients and responsibilities at any given time, they need to be quick-minded and fast on their feet. The best nurses know how to prioritize their many tasks so that they are always responding to the most pressing issues first. Action-oriented nurses know how to actively organize and manage their schedules, ensuring that hospital operations run as smoothly as possible.
Hospital work can be unpredictable. For nurses to re-arrange their priorities when an unexpected situation arises, they must be flexible with their time. Flexibility also helps when a nurse is asked to work at different hours or take on additional responsibilities. For nurses to be great, they must be able to expect the unexpected.
While individuals looking to become nurses may have already developed some of these characteristics over time or consider them to be a part of their innate personality, specialized nursing programs can sharpen and refine the traits or acumen they already possess when they first enter a program.
Given the high demand for nursing professionals, it is imperative that more people have access to high-quality, flexible nursing education programs. Non-traditional schools like WGU Missouri, which allows its nursing students to earn credits based on their knowledge and real-world experience instead of time spent in the classroom, while also providing them with time to complete state-required field experiences, is often a flexible, affordable option for busy adults.
Embracing alternative schooling options is one way we can combat the shortage of nurses in the state. To guarantee that Missouri hospitals are running to the best of their ability, we need to make sure qualified candidates have access to affordable educational opportunities. When strong candidates are given the opportunity to develop the qualities they need to be effective nurses, they make our hospitals and our communities better.