What Are Technical Skills in Nursing? (With Tips To Improve)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated October 3, 2022
Published August 17, 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
A career in nursing requires you to have a range of technical, or hard, skills to perform your regular job duties. The skills section of your resume shows potential employers you have the abilities to be successful in the role you're applying for. Choosing the right technical skills to highlight on your nursing resume can help you differentiate yourself as the best candidate for recruiters and hiring managers to consider.
In this article, we provide a list of technical skills in nursing, explain how you can improve your technical skills, and discuss including these skills on your resume and cover letter as well as during an interview with a potential employer.
Related: 25 Top Healthcare Jobs in Canada
Technical skills in nursing
When reviewing a resume, employers often look at the technical skills to gauge how prepared a candidate is to perform the essential job duties of the specific nursing role they're applying to. Here are some important technical skills in nursing you may need in this role:
Urgent care and emergency care
Having good urgent care and emergency care skills means that a nurse is able to respond promptly to various medical issues a patient is experiencing. Even nurses who don't work in the emergency room (ER) may find themselves in situations where they need to apply this technical skill, making it a vital one for many nursing professionals.
For example, a patient may suddenly experience shortness of breath or react negatively to a particular medication. You may need to understand the issue and respond quickly to care for the patient using additional skills like critical thinking, CPR, and collaboration with other members of a medical team.
One of the basic responsibilities of nurses is to know how to check and monitor their patients' vital signs. These vital signs may include heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, and temperature, and together, they can indicate certain disease progression or other patient health issues that a nurse can then properly address. Nurses may also use vital signs to determine which treatment protocols to follow, track how treatments are working, and provide critical information to make life-saving decisions.
Patient and family education
A nurse with proper patient and family education skills is better able to inform the patient and their family about their condition and how they should care for themselves upon discharge to prevent a return to the hospital. This skill can also allow patients to make informed decisions relating to their care. Nurses play a critical role in educating their patients and the patient's family on important safety precautions, diagnosis, and course of treatment.
Patient safety involves creating safe environments that minimize the risk of falls, preventing errors, and learning from them when they occur. Nurses play a vital role in keeping patients safe during their visits. Patient safety helps minimize the risk of patient harm, maximize recoveries, and protect medical facilities and staff from liability issues.
Technology skills involve the ability to use a wide range of technology to be successful in your work environment. Nurses may use technology to share patient and family education information, monitor vital signs, and maintain patient records. Having technology skills can be useful as more hospitals and medical care facilities start to incorporate electronic medical records into the workplace.
One technical skill nurses may have is the ability to properly care for and dress a wound. Depending on their area of specialty, nurses may have to clean and bandage wounds, as well as educate their patients on how to tend to their wounds once they leave the hospital or medical facility. Proper wound care can help prevent further issues, including the presence of bacteria and additional pain from the wound.
Tips for improving your technical nursing skills
To improve your technical skills in nursing, consider following these tips:
Become comfortable with technology
As with a lot of industries, the healthcare industry continues to incorporate more technology in the workplace. As a nurse, you may need to learn new charting software, incorporate different machinery into your regular patient care routine, or even, depending on the type of nursing you do, present to colleagues and physicians about a patient. If you're comfortable with technology and open to learning new things, you can prepare yourself for changes in technology where you work.
Consider finding ways to attend training on new technologies and keep up to date on current trends in the field of healthcare technology. You can do this by reading industry blogs and articles and listening to podcasts. If there is a beta release of new technology where you work, consider signing up to test it first so that you can become more comfortable and potentially guide your colleagues in using it too.
Find a mentor
A mentor can be someone you currently work with or a nursing professional elsewhere who has more years of experience than you or more varied experience in their career. A mentor is an individual you can confide in about your career path and ask for advice on how you can succeed as a nurse. They may be able to give you some tips on how to learn more technical skills or become more comfortable or proficient in the ones you currently possess.
Related: How To Find a Mentor Step by Step
Join professional associations
Professional nursing associations can provide you with the opportunity to learn new skills. It's common for these associations to offer networking events, conferences, and training like webinars and conferences to their members. You may even receive monthly newsletters and access to members-only content about emerging trends in nursing, advocacy efforts, or how you can continue to excel in your career. By becoming a member, you may also be a source of education and information for others in the group.
Communicate with others
Consider speaking with your peers as one way to improve your technical nursing skills. It's common for nursing professionals to have different experiences that they can use to help a colleague or train a peer. Look for ways you can collaborate with others in the workplace because by doing so, you may naturally gain exposure to new technical skills or be able to enhance your own.
Also, communication with patients is crucial too. If you listen to and monitor your patients' nonverbal cues, you may be able to provide better care to them, understand their needs, and discover the best way to do things for them, like educating them about their hospital stay or explaining a procedure.
You can refine your technical skill set by simply practising. Nurses have several responsibilities, and because you may not use each of your technical skills during your shift, find opportunities to continue to practice those that aren't common occurrences. This can help you ensure that you remain comfortable completing certain tasks and that you can continue to perform these tasks to the best of your ability.
Ways to include your skills during the hiring process
You can use the nursing skills list in several ways throughout your job search and hiring process, including:
On your resume
You can include your technical skills in different areas of your resume to highlight your abilities and qualifications to an employer. You may mention these skills as keywords in your resume summary and explain how you used them when sharing your work responsibilities in prior positions. You might also have a specific section in your resume where you include your strongest skills. Review the job description for the position you're applying for to make sure you're including the skills you have that the employer has listed as required or preferred qualifications.
In your cover letter
In your cover letter, consider choosing a few of your strongest skills so that you can provide specific examples of how you've shown those skills in your prior work experience. Focus on how those skills helped you succeed in the workplace and made a difference in a patient's care or the achievements of the organization. This can help a hiring manager connect your previous experience and current abilities to what you can offer to their organization.
During an interview
Using keywords from your nursing skills list during your interview can help you differentiate yourself from other candidates who are applying for the position. Ready yourself to speak with a hiring manager by preparing examples of how you have used these skills throughout your career. These examples can be from your cover letter as a way to reiterate the information you've provided or new examples that the hiring manager may benefit from knowing about.
Now that we've provided a list of technical skills in nursing and explained how you can improve your technical skills you'll be better prepared to highlight them during an interview with a potential employer.
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