Our work at GE helping hospitals has led me to travel around the world and work intimately with hospital staff in many different countries. Whether in Canada, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, or the UK, each country I’ve visited has a unique healthcare ecosystem with its own funding model, rules, customs, and regulations. Yet, even though the settings are different, I’ve seen that nurses around the globe share a few core characteristics:
- The ability to stay calm under stress
- Operational excellence
- The ability to cut to the heart of the matter
Why Is Staying Calm So Essential?
Nurses work daily with sick patients who are often fighting for their lives. Facing tragedy and emergencies is commonplace for a nurse, and a typical workday can quite literally be a life or death matter.
According to a study on the impact of work-related stress on nurses, stress leads to poorer mental health and also affects quality of life. Both of these consequences can lead to a decline in the level of care a nurse is able to provide – making it essential for nurses to find healthy ways to cope with challenges and to stay calm. Without relaxation techniques and healthy stress responses, workplace fatigue can easily settle in and negatively impact motivation and performance.
Compassion Requires Calmness, Patience, and Wisdom
Nurses frequently encounter scenarios that are likely once-in-a-lifetime moments for the rest of us. They see people every day who are undergoing tough medical conditions, as well as people who are in recovery or receiving treatment for smaller illnesses. Compassion, patience, and wisdom are essential not only for running a good hospital but also for managing the demanding situations that nurses are constantly in. These traits are necessary for delivering patient care routinely at a high level and meeting the needs of patients with sensitivity and careful consideration.
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Communication Should Be Straightforward but Empathetic
The nurses I’ve worked with have had the ability to see the heart of a matter instantly. They don’t dance around topics – they get straight to the point, and fast. I’d imagine that if nurses had to plan an anniversary celebration, they would immediately ask the two most essential questions: What’s the venue? Who is coming? They don’t have the luxury of time for unnecessary details, trivia, or exploration.
In most business settings, there is often inefficiency during discussions throughout the day. People go on tangents or get distracted – thoughts start meandering. Nurses can’t do this at work because their time is so valuable. If you have 200 patients on medicine units and you want to spend one minute talking about each, that would require a meeting that’s almost three hours long. Nurses need to cut to the chase because whether at the bedside with one or a few patients or at leadership levels with many patients in the team’s care, they need to make sure they’re properly caring for every patient.
All the while experienced nurses complement their need and ability to get to the point with compassion. It’s this balance of getting straight to the point and still using a sympathetic bedside manner, that I’ve seen nurses consistently master.
These Traits Rarely Get Lost In Translation
Across the globe, hospitals look different. Some are beautiful old buildings, some new, some high-tech. The equipment in labs, imaging, pharmacy, and software tools vary. Funding varies. The processes of patient care, though, are much more similar than they are different. From admission to discharging patients to rounding to treatment planning to getting lab tests and setting care protocols, it’s all pretty much the same.
We’ve led innovation efforts with caregivers from different hospitals in GE’s Command Center ecosystem. What’s amazing is that nurses, doctors, and case managers from different countries and states can instantly jump into deep discussions about problems, solutions, ideas, and process flows. There is no delay caused by differences in resources, language, or technology because of these core traits that medical professionals, nurses specifically, have developed and honed. Nothing is lost in translation.
These traits are crucial for the success of hospitals. The nurses who have been on the job for decades – whether they’re in the U.S. or the UK – always show these attributes. They are the reason units can handle crisis after crisis while still providing a high degree of patient care. They are calm, consistent, compassionate, and honest – across the board. And we love working for them.