How to Be Successful in Nursing

The best way to understand what makes a successful nurse might be to ask the patients. Did the patient feel cared for and respected? Listened to? Was information communicated clearly? Happy patients are one measure of success. But success in nursing is about more than patient satisfaction scores.

Research links higher levels of nursing education to better patient outcomes. The appropriate education can equip nurses with competencies for success in the increasingly complicated healthcare field. RN to BSN programs help nurses prepared at the associate-degree or diploma level take this important step.

The University of South Carolina Aiken, for example, offers a 100 percent online RN to BSN program that working nurses can complete in just 12 months. Students in this program build the competencies they need to succeed in any healthcare setting.

What Qualities Do Successful Nurses Share?

Florence Nightingale’s legacy was her dedication to compassionate care. Dr. Joyce Pompey, Associate Professor in the RN to BSN program at USC Aiken, believes compassion is what makes someone particularly successful in nursing.

“In nursing,” she explained, “you meet patients from all different backgrounds who are at different stages in their lives and who may have a multitude of healthcare issues. You can impact their lives when they are most vulnerable.”

Dr. Thayer McGahee, Dean of the School of Nursing at USC Aiken, points out that successful nurses have assets that go beyond knowledge and skills gained in coursework. These include:

  • An appreciation for each patient.
  • A dedication to providing the type of care you would want for yourself and the person who means the most to you.

The caring nature of nursing is fundamental to the profession. In fact, caring is one of four processes tested throughout the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses).

Caring is seen in the supportive, trust-based relationships that nurses develop with their patients. In Americans’ Ratings of Honesty and Ethical Standards in Professions, nurses topped the list.

How Does Education Support Nursing Success?

All RN candidates need to pass the NCLEX-RN, but there is more than one educational path to get there. Many nursing students choose diploma or associate degree programs, which take less time than a BSN. However, a BSN is becoming the preferred degree.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM, now the National Academy of Medicine) called for 80 percent of RNs to have a BSN by 2020. The good news is that with options such as the RN to BSN program at USC Aiken, RNs can earn a BSN without putting their careers on hold.

RN to BSN programs build on what nurses already know, preparing them with higher-level competencies for delivering quality care across different settings and scenarios. Students in the RN to BSN program at USC Aiken, for example, develop the following competencies:

  • Research
  • Ethical and legal concerns
  • Leadership and management
  • Community and public health

The benefits of earning a BSN go beyond improved care. A BSN provides a pathway to earning a master’s and doctorate. This advanced education prepares RNs to take on new roles, including primary care providers and nurse faculty.

Nursing is considered both an art and a science. The two go hand-in-hand, and it is what sets successful nurses apart. Successful nurses, McGahee summed up, are those who “treat each patient with respect, who treat all colleagues with respect, and who strive to continue to learn and make a positive difference.”

Learn more about USC Aiken’s online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.


RWJF: Building the Case for More Highly Educated Nurses

National Council of State Boards of Nursing: NCLEX-RN Examination

Gallup: Nurses Keep Healthy Lead as Most Honest, Ethical Profession

National Academy of Sciences: The Future of Nursing: Focus on Education

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