Employment of hospital nurses is expected to continue to grow at a pace faster than the average for all occupations between 2010 and 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The impetus for the growth will derive from two primary factors: an aging U.S. population who will require more services to maintain longer, active lives; and advances in technology that permit an increased number of health problems to be treated. The result is that more nurses with the needed skills will be required in all areas of health care, including hospitals.
Nurses working in hospitals need to have good interpersonal skills. They must be active listeners, giving full attention to what other people are saying and taking the time to understand the points being made. They must know how to ask questions appropriately, and then listen to the response without interrupting unnecessarily. Hospital nurses need an awareness of the reactions of others and an understanding of what triggers these reactions. They need to be able to talk to others and convey information effectively. They have to be able to read and write effectively so work-related documents reflect accurate information and verbal instructions are easy to understand. They also need excellent organizational and time-management skills.
Important Personality Traits
Nurses are required to be honest and ethical. They must have concern for others, because the job requires being sensitive to other people's needs and feelings. Dependability is important, as is self-control, tolerating and managing stress and a desire for social orientation because the job requires a preference for working with others rather than alone. Nurses working in hospitals need to understand and apply as necessary both patience and persistence in the face of obstacles. They need to be able to develop and maintain constructive working relationships with others.
Important Mental Abilities
The hospital nurse needs to be an analytical thinker with good reasoning skills. The job requires analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution to solve problems. An acute attention to detail is important to effectively and safely complete work tasks, especially since inaccuracies can endanger the lives and health of their patients. They need to be able to identify information by recognizing the differences or similarities between events or symptoms that might seem unrelated. They also need not only to be able to detect changes, but to anticipate changes that might occur or problems that might arise.
Important Technical Skills
A hospital nurse must be proficient in documenting and recording information, as even a small detail could potentially confuse a diagnosis or result in an erroneous prescription. Most hospitals enter, store and maintain information in electronic form, so nurses need basic computer and typing skills. They must have a thorough and current knowledge of drug properties and potential side effects. Nurses also must have a working knowledge of psychology and basic math skills. In addition, they must have some understanding of the laws that apply to health services, such as regulations regarding the confidentiality of patient information.