nursing schoolEvery nursing student always says that it feels like they are in nursing school forever. Blame that on the long clinical days, late-night study sessions, projects, and the always fun activity of developing a care plan.

But what skills should you absolutely learn while in nursing school? Here’s a list of 10 things that I think are absolutely essential:

  1. How to do a quick, proficient, complete head to toe assessment on every patient—EVERYTHING starts with a good assessment.

  2. How to interview a patient, including asking those uncomfortable questions.

  3. How to develop an individualized care plan for your patient. Yes, you will still be doing care plans, just in your head as you organize your day.

  4. How to be an investigator and critically think through your patient problems. You should know how to look at the big picture and how is everything connected.

  5. How to provide good customer service—this is the era of patient satisfaction scores.

  6. How to do a bed bath and make a bed with a patient in it, especially on a total care patient.

  7. How to administrate medication safely.

  8. How to quickly look up medications you are not familiar with. Make sure you know how to use your resources.

  9. How to spike and hang IV fluids, plus knowing how to pick back IV medications.

  10. How to safely transfer a patient.

You might have noticed that I did not list things like start IVs or foley catheters. Yes, most students will come across these skills during their nursing education. However, I do not see them as critical skills as they can be easily taught once you start working.

What does take practice and guidance is thinking critically about the care your patient will need. So, when you are in your clinicals, you should challenge yourself to see the big picture. Ask for the “complicated” patient and practice those important skills.

Is there something you would add to this list? What do you think is a skill a student should learn in nursing school? Pass on your wisdom to the next generation—leave a comment!