UNITED STATES—Becoming better at something when you are already good at it is a rare trait shared only by some of the most successful people in the world, irrespective of the field. Given that we are discussing the nursing profession here, getting better at your job does not only indicate that you will be paid better, although that is a given. It also means that you will have a greater positive impact on multiple patients’ health, chances of recovery and wellbeing while they are under your care. That in itself should be reason enough, but the perks of professional growth in improving a nurse’s quality of life are also among the best within the healthcare industry. Keeping both aspects in focus, let us now discuss a few ways in which a dedicated nurse can become the best professional version of herself/himself.

Striking a Balance between Patientcare and Professional Detachment

Professional detachment is a term that doctors and nurses are very well acquainted with. Professionally and logically, direct care medical workers must keep themselves from becoming too emotionally attached with any of their patients. The dilemma faced by young nurses in particular is pretty obvious; how should one care about a patient, without really caring “too much” about them? How much care is too much care, and at what point does professional detachment become apathy?

Drawing that thin, but prominent professional line between empathy and apathy is crucial for succeeding as a nurse, difficult as it may be. Taking notes from some of the most experienced, well-loved and highly successful nursing leaders in the United States, we will discuss a strategy which can help you achieve that balance in time.

Pushing Past Emotions for an Emotional Cause

The human psychology is not just complicated; it is the most complicated one in the world for obvious reasons. Sometimes though, it can be used to our advantage. It has been found that people are able to push past their emotional barriers the best when the reason to do so is deemed by their psyche to be of greater emotional value.

For example, to provide the emotional care that children need in hospitals, a naturally caring and loving nature is considered to be important for a pediatric nurse to have. However, that same nature could become an obstacle in their ability to work in such environments with proficiency if they get too attached to the children. Everyone leaves the pediatric ward in one way or the other, and a child’s death can be particularly painful for pediatric nurses to deal with, even after years of facing similar situations.

At such times, experienced nurses have shared that pushing through the gloom was only possible for them because they knew that other children in the ward would suffer if they were to let their professional balance drop. Taking heed from those that came and faced such situations before, you’ll need to push through tough times for the sake of other patients who are still depending on you, especially since they are still there to receive the best care you can provide. In due time, the whole process of pushing through negative emotions with emotional motivation will become easier to go through, turning it into seasoned professionalism that does not lack empathy.

Become Better with Experience and Education

Higher education in nursing fields is not just about academic pursuit and professional improvements, but each course is also an exercise towards becoming a more capable caregiver, and later on, attaining the knowledge and training necessary to reshape outdated patientcare practices in favor of patient-centric policies. There was a major shift to online education across the world, brought about by the epidemic in 2020. However, long before Covid-19 ever came into existence, online nursing programs were empowering RNs to simultaneously pursue their career goals and higher education.

The flexibility of the online medium also meant that nurses did not have to lose out on their precious clinic hours anymore, helping them gain the necessary experience for attaining future roles. For example, the DNP Executive Leadership Program from Baylor University is a CCNE accredited, online doctorate course, ideal for eligible and experienced nurses who wish to take on administrative roles in their career. It would allow veteran nursing professionals to help numerous patients at once and on a continuous basis. If you have found in your experience that certain areas of healthcare need revision, then there is no better way to see it happen than being the one that makes it happen.

Practice the Methods of Dealing with Tense Situations

If you are an emergency nurse, then you probably know a few of those methods already. However, any nurse in any field of work can come under unexpected and immense pressure, because of the nature of the medical profession itself. Especially when you are relatively new to the job, it might be important to prepare yourself with some self-training to handle sudden, life-and-death situations.

Keep in mind that to some nurses, handling emergencies might come more naturally, but a lot of others need practice to prevent themselves from freezing when the knowledge and training they possess is tested in a pressure situation. Those that have been in those shoes before, advise:

  • Using your own knowledge and relaxing yourself with controlled breathing exercises every time you get hit with panic during emergencies
  • Let your training guide your actions, which should be easier as soon as your body relaxes
  • If you don’t have the necessary expertise or experience to handle a situation, speak out and let your colleagues know about it immediately
  • After handling one or more stressful situations at a stretch, take a small break and get your composure back, before rejoining the remaining hours of duty
  • Bust stress on break days methodically, in whichever way that you find to be the most effective for you.

There are also other fields of work in our society which are more than just another way to earn a paycheck, but nurses are among the pioneers in such fields. When lives can be saved or improved based on your work-efficiency, knowledge, experience, attention, skills and decisions, it’s no longer just a job, but an opportunity to help those who need it the most.

Although the same sentiments may not be shared by every nurse on the first day, over time, everyone gets to realize how much of a positive impact they have on the patients they take care of. With that realization, also comes the compulsion to do more for those under their care, which incidentally, is ideal for professional growth as well.