We all know a great nurse—someone whom we look up to and wish we could be like one day. These nurses didn’t start out as role models. They had to work hard to become who they are today. The good news: You, too, can become a great nurse! Here are five habits to incorporate into your nursing practice that will help you along the way.

1. Review your charting.

Take a few minutes at the end of your shift to review your charting for the day. You may find a mistake or remember something you forgot to chart. It’s important to remember that everything you type could be reviewed in a court of law. If something wasn’t charted, then it didn’t happen. By reviewing your charting, you are protecting your nursing license and ensuring an accurate medical record for your patient.

2. Remember your safety basics.

Don’t forget the safety basics you learned in nursing school, like wearing gloves or scrubbing the hub. These practices will protect you from occupational hazards and protect your patients from harm. Over time, your safety basics will become habits that you will be able to maintain even when you are busy or stressed.

3. Keep up with the latest information.

Every day a plethora of new information is released into the nursing world. It is crucial that you stay up to date on everything in your field of nursing so you continue to grow and evolve. Nurses who are behind the times and unwilling to change their practices could endanger themselves and their patients. Join your local professional association and read your hospital and unit newsletters to stay abreast of new information specific to your field of nursing.

4. Stay organized.

It is easy to become overwhelmed and disorganized when you are taking care of several patients. A great nurse is always thinking three steps ahead of what she is doing. Find an organizational system that works for you to help plan your day, or use a checklist to ensure that you get everything done. Having a system in place will help you stay on track when an emergency happens in the middle of your shift.

5. Don’t cut corners.

It may be tempting to cut corners to save time, but safety measures were put in place for a reason. By skipping a step, you could be risking your patient’s life. Maintaining sterility or performing the five rights of medication administration may be time consuming but could be disastrous if skipped. Infection, sepsis, overdose, or allergic reaction are all possible outcomes. Protect your patients, yourself, and your license and don’t cut corners.

Sarah Cruzan, BSN, RN

Sarah Cruzan is a nurse on a Family Maternity Unit.

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