Nursing is not just a collection of tasks. To provide safe and effective care to the clients, nurses must integrate knowledge, skills and attitudes to make sound judgement and decisions. This essay describes some of the essential knowledge, skills and attitudes of nursing and discusses why they are essential attributes of a competent nurse.
Nursing knowledge and clinical skills
These are obvious essentials for nursing practice. Nurses are required to perform many clinical tasks, for instance physical assessments and injections, which require competent clinical skills to ensure safe outcomes for patients. A broad base of nursing knowledge including physiology, pharmacology and nursing theories is needed for effective critical thinking, clinical judgement and decision-making. Nurses develop expertise in nursing through the acquisition of nursing knowledge and clinical experience (Crisp & Taylor, 2005).
Knowledge of legal and ethical issues
Knowledge of legal issues are essential because nurses are required to practise in accordance with legislation affecting nursing practice and health care (ANMC, 2006) Failure to respect the legal rights of clients may result in legal or disciplinary actions. Nurses also encounter ethical issues everyday. To deal effectively with them, nurses need to have the ability to identify ethical issues correctly, understand their implications and make ethical decisions (Daly, Speedy& Jackson, 2006). Knowledge about legal and ethical principles is needed to justify nursing practice (Francis, Bowman & Redgrave, 2001).
Communication is the sending and receiving of messages via symbols, words, signs, gestures or cues (Peate, 2006). Communication skills are required for every nursing interaction, assessment and intervention (Jones & Cheek, 2003). They are important diagnostic and therapeutic tools (Francis et al, 2001). Effective communication is
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