How to Be a Better Practical Nurse

Strive to go the extra mile when you’re on the job

If you are in nursing school to become a practical nurse, you are probably learning a lot about medical terminology, hospital protocols, and nursing procedures. Once you get on the job market, these skills will be important keys to your success.

In addition to these “hard skills” that all practical nurses need to know, there are also several “soft skills” that make you a better employee. If you focus on improving in these areas, you may be more valued as an employee and find more career satisfaction. Here are some tips on developing these soft skills.

1. Keep smiling
A day in the life of a practical nurse can certainly be challenging. You will have to stay on your feet all day long, and keep up with the many different needs of your patients. Through it all, it’s important to keep smiling. A positive attitude will not only lift the spirits of your patients and your co-workers, but it will also improve your own feelings about your life and career.

2. Don’t be late
Nursing is a field where promptness is extremely important. When one shift ends, the next shift of nurses needs to be there to pick up where the previous shift stopped. If you arrive late, you can throw off the schedule and force someone else to work longer than planned. Show respect to your team by arriving a few minutes early to work so you are ready to roll.

3. Think like a team member
Nursing is an around-the-clock profession. Patients’ needs can occur at any time of day and night, and as a result, the patient care teams have to work together cooperatively to give patients the best care possible. Nurses work best when they keep the patients’ interests as the number one priority. This means working professionally, treating everyone with respect, helping fellow practical nurses when they need help, and not allowing your emotions to get in the way of your work.

4. Stay organized
As a practical nurse, you will find that your patients’ needs can pull you in many different directions. Finding a way to stay organized will help you manage your workload, be more productive, and feel less stressed. Some people use a small notebook to write down a checklist of important tasks. Others keep track of tasks on their mobile phones. Find a system that works for you.

5. Document everything
Documenting everything you do for your patients is an extremely important part of nursing. The patient’s chart needs to be kept up to date so that the next member of the care team knows what has been done and what needs to be done. Good documentation is critical to giving patients the kind of care they deserve.

6. Look for extra ways to help
When you work in the healthcare system, there are always extra ways to help. If you have any down time, see if your patients need anything else. If you see a mess, clean it up or alert the custodial staff. If you see a patient or a fellow employee in need of help, see what you can do to pitch in. Being a helpful person will get you a positive reputation as someone who cares about doing a good job.

7. Look for ways to learn more
The fields of nursing and medicine are constantly changing. Within just a few years of leaving nursing school, you will find that new practical nurses are coming into the workforce with skills you’ve never learned. Take advantage of continuing education opportunities. Ask your supervisor if you can get trained on skills you haven’t done yet. Read professional publications to stay in touch with new developments. Being up-to-date with the latest developments will show your employer that you care about your career.

8. Always be respectful
Everyone at your workplace deserves respect, starting with the patients and their visitors, and including everyone who works there. Show respect by speaking nicely to people, listening carefully, making eye contact, avoiding gossip, and showing a willingness to be helpful. And one other person who deserves respect? Yourself! Self-respect and self-care are important for maintaining a happy and balanced life and career.

With this advice, you should be well on your way to a career where you feel valued. Practical nurses are everyday heroes. Practical nurses deserve respect and should feel proud of what they do!


Learn more about the Salter School of Nursing and Allied Health’s practical nursing program. We hope you begin your career with us!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *