Nursing is a highly collaborative job. As a nurse, your supervisors will never expect you to make decisions on patient care entirely alone. You will often have to work with a team of other nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals involved in your patients’ care plans.
A major part of nursing, therefore, is communicating with other professionals and learning how to collaborate properly with your patients.
However, nursing is also about learning – almost constantly! You’ll never stop learning as a nurse. While that may sound difficult at first, this is exactly the mindset you want to have while developing your career in the healthcare industry.
As a nurse, who will you collaborate with most, and who will you learn from? Before we look at a few examples, let’s dig deep into why the learning culture is so beneficial to nurses working in a variety of modern healthcare settings.
Why is it important for nurses to learn from others?
To thrive as a nurse, you need to spend considerable time studying, interning and gaining your own hands-on experiences to prepare for an often ever-changing work environment.
However, when it comes to nursing, studying and preparing in school covers only a fraction of what you will need to know. You should view education in nursing, therefore, as a strong foundation on which you then build your career. The only way to keep growing and build a good nursing career is by continuously adding to that foundation.
Some nursing courses and qualification paths lean into collaboration as a vital component of the learning process. For example, institutions such as Texas Woman’s University provide opportunities for mentorship in nursing where you’ll gain hands-on experience and guidance from staff with years of care behind them.
In fact, Texas Woman’s University strongly encourages mentoring, as it’s a great way to kick-start the “always learning” mentality you’ll do well to adopt as a nurse. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll be a student forever. Instead, it means you’ll always be ready to adapt to new challenges, growing in confidence all the while.
Medicine moves fast – it always has! New technologies, remedies, medications, therapies and practices are always emerging.
As a specialist in charge of helping others with their health, it is vital that you remain up to date with all of the new procedures. However, as intimidating as that may sound, there really is no need to worry. The pressure is not just on you to stay up to date and well-informed.
In any healthcare setting, there will always be a whole team of people involved in any given patient’s care. It is your duty to keep others informed and remain informed yourself – you have a vital role to play.
You will be constantly learning from those around you on how to address certain issues, how to deal with certain patients, which treatments work best and more. The best people to learn from when you’re a nurse might also vary from day to day as well – you’ve likely already heard how varied this position can be.
You will also have much to learn from those who aren’t in your field. Some won’t even be professionals at all (such as patients and their loved ones, for example). The fact is, you will likely encounter situations and patients that your education did not, and maybe even could not, prepare you for. This is just a reality of the job.
However, it’s important to take on as much advice and guidance from others as possible. Let’s dive a little deeper into why and who you’ll learn from.
Who will you learn from while nursing?
The short answer to this question is, of course, that you’ll likely learn from everyone you come across – even patients! However, it’s understandable if you’re a little skeptical of that idea right now. So, let’s take a look at some of the most influential people you’ll come across in your nursing career and why you need to pay attention to them.
Doctors and physicians
It will come as no surprise that, more often than not, you will be working with doctors and physicians. It goes without saying that doctors and nurses work hand in hand.
In the realm of telehealth consultations, healthcare professionals frequently share and discuss various aspects of a patient’s care. This encompasses not only the patient’s current medical condition but also their comprehensive health history, ongoing treatment plans, necessary adjustments, and potential interventions, including surgical procedures, if deemed necessary. Through telehealth consultations, healthcare providers such as doctors and nurses can efficiently exchange this critical information to provide well-informed, remote healthcare solutions for their patients.
You will also work with doctors throughout all of your patients’ time with you. This collaboration is key in ensuring that your patients do indeed get the best care possible – after all, while nurses and doctors frequently cover the same concerns, you’re always likely to complement each other along any care plan.
As much as working with doctors is a collaboration, it is also the best time to learn. You will have the opportunity to learn from a doctor’s expertise and experience – even doctors who are younger than you may have expertise in more recent developments in technology and patient care. They, in turn, will learn from you as well.
As nurses sometimes tend to have stronger relationships with their patients, you’re in a good position to give more precise patient information that could help create a better care plan for doctors to follow.
Together, you will build care plans, monitor patient progress and complement each others’ individual experiences – while gaining a few useful insights along the way to help boost your skill set for the future.
Other nurses and nurse practitioners
It’s safe to say that most of your time as a nurse will likely be spent with other nurses and nurse practitioners (NP). Nurse practitioners are advanced nurses who collaborate with registered nurses (RNs) to provide specialized care. NPs often work as mentors to RNs, allowing RNs to observe their clinical skills and learn about specialized cases nd difficult situations.
Therefore, learning from NPs is perhaps one of the best ways to expand your knowledge and understanding of advanced nursing. It’s a mentorship relationship that provides hands-on and visual learning opportunities.
However, NPs aren’t the only nurses you will be learning from on the job. You’ll even learn from nurses with just as much, or even less, experience as you! Exchanging and learning from each other is key – fresh out of college or university, there’s every chance different nurses will have picked up different techniques and ideas.
It’s a further reason why learning how to be a good communicator is so important in nursing. Just because you’re educated to the same extent doesn’t mean you’re always going to have the same stories to share.
Anytime you do get to work with other nurses, NPs or not, take the opportunity to exchange as much knowledge as possible.
Of course, one of the best ways to learn on the job is to listen to nursing educators. After all, the clue’s in their job titles – they’re specialized nurses who now dedicate their time to helping nurses and NPs progress in their chosen areas.
These professionals specialize in workshops, seminars and general training sessions to help nurses everywhere stay updated with the latest practices, enhance their own clinical judgment and even learn new skills.
Therefore, whenever you can, taking part in nursing educator seminars and new training sessions is a great way to stay sharp and remain as informed and qualified as possible in the face of evolving challenges.
It is also a great way of ensuring you provide the best possible care for your patients, especially those whose ailments may depend on new and developing treatments.
In time, you may even wish to become a nursing educator yourself – it’s a fantastic career path that’s highly rewarding. While it’s rewarding enough to help patients get better, it’s just as fulfilling to help other nurses realize their full potential.
Believe it or not, nurses can spend a lot of time working with social workers. This will depend on their specialisms and whether they work out in the field, for example.
Working closely with social workers can make a huge difference in providing the best treatment for certain patients. Doing so allows nurses to better understand the social and psychological factors that might be influencing a patient’s health. Therefore, a nurse can better understand what to do and how to best help their patient as they now have plenty of context and background information to work from.
Moreover, social workers often stay involved with the patient’s treatment throughout their care, even deep into the process in the hospital and beyond. Social workers can help allocate the best resources, advocate on behalf of their patients and even counsel their charges as they progress through the healthcare system.
Their help can be absolutely essential in treating certain patients and should not be overlooked – and, as with working alongside other nurses, there are always opportunities for you to learn from each other as well.
Working with social workers is about more than just simple collaboration. As a nurse, you will be able to learn more about your area’s community support systems, which can help you take better care of other patients.
You will also learn more about what dynamics (such as family, friends, work and so on) can influence a patient’s health. There’s also plenty of opportunities to learn more about strategies for dealing with complicated social issues.
These social issues, and the contexts that only social workers have access to, can provide nurses with crucial information that could influence their case outcomes. If you can reach out to a social worker for support during a care plan, it’s worth doing so.
Where would nurses be without pharmacists and medication providers? Ultimately, they ensure that the proper drugs are administered to your patients when they are no longer in your direct care and help ensure that patients know when to take their new courses, how to take them and the possible side effects that could occur along the way.
Pharmacists tend to get to know their own clients pretty well – and, should you need to communicate with a particular patient’s pharmacist, you may learn more about other medications the patient takes, how capable they are of taking care of themselves, etc.
The support and learning potential don’t end there. Pharmacists can also help ensure your patients are being looked after properly and keep you informed about the latest drugs on the market, medication management, dosages, side effects and the general best practices in pharmaceutical care.
Pharmacists can also stand to learn from you and your experience with certain patients, certain drugs and their effects in the long run.
As the learning process is mutually beneficial in this particular relationship, keeping an open line of communication is always worthwhile so that you can easily exchange ideas freely. It’s great to have an open, friendly relationship with pharmacists and lab researchers wherever possible.
Patients and their families
Believe it or not, you will also learn a lot from your patients, and even their families, while working as a nurse. These are the people you’re probably going to communicate most openly and most frequently with, so it makes sense to learn how to build an effective rapport with members of the public.
You’ll need to know what’s wrong with your patients, how long they have been experiencing symptoms and information about their lifestyles. In return, you can then advise which treatments are likely to work best for them, which changes in lifestyle choices might work best and how long they can expect to wait before feeling relief.
There are plenty of benefits to learning from patient families as well. In many cases, they’ll be able to offer background details on their cases and may even help communicate for them if they’re unable to do themselves.
In some cases, you will also have to take cultural considerations into account. The more information you have, the better you will be able to provide the best treatment possible for your patients. It’s just one of many reasons why effective communication in nursing is so vital.
Learning from patients and their families will also help ensure you provide more effective care plans for other patients in the future. The more patients you treat and the more openly you communicate with them, the easier you’ll find it is to provide treatments and map out care plans.
In many scenarios, nurses will act as case builders and managers, while others in the care team will be more specialized toward working as case managers than directly with patients. Case managers are incredibly important when it comes to the care of certain patients.
As a nurse who interacts more with patients than case plans, you’ll benefit hugely from working alongside someone with access to a top-down view of the care process. You’ll learn how different managers interact with each other, which departments rely on one another and how you’ll build toward certain outcomes.
This relationship is also important for helping map out your workload’s next moves. You’ll be able to learn which steps to take next, who to speak to before the next stage of the care plan and which steps have already been taken. If you inherit a patient’s case, this learning relationship is all the more beneficial.
By working closely with case managers, you will better understand the various healthcare systems in place for your patients and can better ensure that all of your patient’s needs are met, even those without case workers.
What’s more, working with case managers is also a great way of learning more about your patient. They may not have many family members or close ones around, so speaking with someone who knows a little more about their current home and/or working situation can help you work out the best possible action plans.
Nurses are always learning. While it’s easy to assume that you’ll have all the skills you need once you leave college or university, it’s a career path on which you’ll never stop developing. And that’s one of the best parts of the job!
No one can deny that being a nurse can sometimes be complex or even stressful. Nevertheless, the more knowledge, experience, contacts and confidence you amass, the more confident you will be in performing your duties. This process will undoubtedly have a more positive effect on your patients and their outcomes as well.
Learning in nursing is about more than just sitting around with books and worksheets. In fact, most of it does come down to learning from those around you. Watching other professionals in your position handle their patients, common situations and more specialized cases will give you the confidence you need to be the best nurse you can be.