Can You Be a Good Nurse Without Being The Smartest Nurse?

When I was in school, my grades were just high enough to keep me enrolled in the rigorous nursing program. I even failed my NLCEX the first time after taking all 265 questions! But because I wasn’t the smartest nursing student in my class and didn’t pass NCLEX on the first try, does that make me a bad nurse now? The short answer is NO! When you are applying for jobs as a nurse, they typically are not looking at your GPA, they not looking at what school you went to because at the end of the day, if we have a nursing license, we all passed the same boards to be a licensed nurse.

As I touched on in a different blog, bedside manner is not taught in school. I know for myself that although I am not the smartest nurse, I provide exceptional care to my patients. I listen to their concerns, comfort them when they need it and even if I do not know the answer to their questions, I will find them the answers. A good nurse does not need to have the ability to know all the answers to everything right off the bat but a good nurse will ask the appropriate people for the answer and do research.

Remember this one thing about nursing: critical thinking is a skill and it is not acquired overnight. This comes with experience and seeing how different people present with the same conditions. You can’t be expected to learn everything about nursing in 2-4 years. So don’t be discouraged if you don’t know the answer right away, that will come in due time. Focus on listening to your patients, pay special attention to their symptoms and always treat them with respect and dignity. That will go a lot further with your patients than knowing everything at the snap of your fingers.

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