50 Things a Nurse Should Know

1. Never make promises you can't keep. Many patients and caregivers count on everything the nurse says.

2. Be reliable

3. Be proactive

4. Keep your sense of humor

5. Ask the right questions

6. Don't assume anything

7. Bring your crystal ball for any predictions that might be requested.

8. Keep your patients and caregivers informed.

9. Keep patients and caregivers educated.

10. Know your team members strengths and weaknesses.

11. Don't prejudge. Patients and families may surprise you.

12. Just listen. Your input is not always necessary.

13. Keep personal opinions to yourself.

14. Difficult families usually need the most help.

15. Stop and have lunch. Situations can look better on a full stomach. (We all know we'd like to do this every once in a while, and while you're at it go empty your bladder.)

16. Wear comfortable shoes.

17. Make friends with your secretary.

18. Know your community resources.


20. Denial is a coping mechanism and not necessarily contraindicated.

21. Don't panic over bad situations. Wait until the smoke clears; a solution usually becomes apparent.


23. Death is not always sad. Many times it is a welcome event for the patient as well as the family.

24. You are part of the decision making process-but the decisions are made by the patients and families.

25. Be an advocate.

26. Be an educator.

27. Seek out persons who speak other languages. Make arrangements to use them as resources if necessary.

28. Take time to know the patient and family.

29. Be willing to support your teammates. Someday you may need their support.

30. It's okay to hate the sound of pagers.

31. A sleeping patient does not mean pain control has been achieved.

32. Be knowledgeable about the side effects of medications. Some comfort measures can be achieved by eliminating certain medications.

33. Make friends with the pharmacist.

34. Don't dismiss home remedies, especially if they work.

35. Many times we see patients and families at their worst. Be considerate and patient.

36. Learn to accept angry and accusatory remarks from patients and family. Projection of anger is common.

37. Be quick with a smile. It may be the only smile the patient may see all day.

38. We are all terminal. Some folks just don't know when the time is near.

39. Respect patient religious and cultural boundaries.


41. Know when to set limits with a patient or family.

42. It takes a special person to be a nurse.

43. Communication among team members will make everything run more smoothly.

44. Be accepting.

45. Be kind! Some days it can be harder than others.

46. Acquaint yourself with the cultural diversities of death, grief, and mourning.

47. Know your analgesics, or carry a drug book.

48. Know your laxatives, or carry a drugbook.

49. If grieving the loss of a patient, share your feelings with team members. It certainly may help you feel better.



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