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The Making of an Excellent Nurse: Tips to Make it to the Top

What does it take to be an excellent nurse? Is it a reasonable bedside manner? Compassion? A never-ending supply of patience?

It can be all those things and more, but one essential ingredient is always at the core of being a great nurse: hard work.

It takes a lot of dedication and determination to be the best you can be, especially when the stakes are high and the hours are long. So, what does it take to make an excellent nurse?

Let’s explore that question together.

1. Maintain Your Charts:

Documentation is a critical part of nursing. It’s how we communicate information about our patients to other healthcare team members and a legal record of the care we provide. That’s why it’s essential to keep your charts up-to-date and accurate.

At the end of each day, make it a point to thoroughly review your charts and ensure that all the information is accurate.

If you made a mistake, correct it. If there’s something you forgot to include, add it. Taking the time to do this will save you a lot of headaches down the road.

It takes an eye for detail and a commitment to excellence to detect and correct errors in your documentation, but it’s a crucial part of being an excellent nurse.

2. Never Stop Learning:

A pool of knowledge is a critical tool a nurse can have. It allows us to provide the best possible care to our patients. That’s why you must never stop learning.

Make time to read nursing journals, attend conferences, and take continuing education courses. The more you learn, the better equipped you’ll be to handle whatever comes your way.

There are specialized courses for each field of nursing. If you are an FNP, a Family Nurse Practitioner Masters Program will ensure you get the latest evidence-based education.

You can also take up opportunities like becoming a certified nurse educator (CNE), which will help you understand how to communicate your knowledge to others better. And, if ever your management offers in-house training, don’t hesitate to participate.

3. Master Your Time Management:

Time management is one of the most important skills you can have as a nurse. There will always be competing demands for your time and attention. Therefore, you must prioritize your tasks and manage your time wisely.

One way to do this is to make a daily to-do list. At the beginning of each shift, take a few minutes to write down everything you need to accomplish.

Then, as you complete each task, check it off your list. It will help you stay focused and on track. After all, what’s better than the feeling of crossing something off your to-do list?

There are also tools like time-tracking software that can help you make the most of your time. TimeDoctor is an excellent option that nurses can use to track their time and see where they can make improvements.

4. Be an Advocate for Your Patients:

Why do you think we need nurses when doctors are already there? One of the main reasons is that nurses are patient advocates.

We are the ones who spend the most time with our patients, so we are in a unique position to advocate for their needs.

If you see something that isn’t right, speak up. If a patient is being maltreated, make a fuss. Be their voice when they can’t speak for themselves. Our job is to ensure our patients receive the care they deserve.

For instance, a patient needing vecuronium bromide (a muscle relaxant) may not have a family to speak up on their behalf.

The doctor may be about to discharge the patient without this medication. As the nurse, you can be their advocate and ensure they get the treatment they need before leaving.

5. Work as a Team Player:

Nursing is a team sport. No one nurse can do it all. We all need to rely on each other to provide the best possible care for our patients.

From the doctor to the physical therapist to the case manager, everyone has an important role to play. That’s why it’s crucial to be a good team player.

When working with other nurses, take the time to get to know them and their strengths. That way, you can work together to provide the best possible care for your patients. After all, there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team.’

Since inclusivity and collaboration ensure better patient outcomes, employers and clients always look for these qualities.

6. Always Communicate Effectively:

A regular day in the life of a nurse starts with questions: How are you feeling today? What can I do for you? Any pain?

Each day, these questions and more are asked dozens, if not hundreds. Other than patients, you have to concisely communicate with your team, doctors, and family members of patients. Good communication is a critical part of being a great nurse.

Some people are born communicators, but for the rest of us, it’s a skill that can be learned. If you’re not a natural communicator, there are still ways to improve.

Start by taking the time to listen to what people are saying. Don’t just wait for your turn to speak. Please pay attention to the nonverbal cues people give you, like their body language and tone of voice.

And when you do speak, be considerate, audible, and transparent. Practice makes perfect, so the more you communicate, the better you’ll get at it.

7. Keep Your Compassion Ready:

Being able to show compassion separates a good nurse from a great one.

Compassion is understanding another person’s feelings and needs and responding with caring and concern.

Whether it includes offering a comforting word, a friendly touch, or just lending a listening ear, compassion is a critical part of nursing.

Why? Because our patients are going through some of the most challenging times in their lives. They need someone who cares, and that’s precisely what you can be for them.

Yes, sometimes you may have the most challenging days where it feels like you can’t give anymore, but remember why you became a nurse in the first place – because you care.

So, when those tough days come, dig deep and find that compassion within yourself. Don’t forget that your patients are counting on you.


No one said being a nurse was easy. But it is one of the most rewarding careers out there. If you’re thinking about becoming a nurse, or are already a nurse, remember these tips to help you get to the top.

There is a lot of competition but limited opportunities to rank higher in your career. So, always give it your best and try to be the best version of yourself. All it takes is a little extra effort to get to the top.

Read also: Eight Tips For Nurses Coping With Difficult & Abusive Patients