Working as a nurse is an incredibly challenging yet rewarding job that offers individuals a great sense of fulfilment, as well as the opportunity to exercise a variety of skills. In fact, nurses are equipped with numerous medical-specific competencies that they develop throughout university and during hands-on experience on-the-job. In addition to medical skills, nurses also acquire a wealth of transferable skills that can be carried with them throughout their careers - even in other industries.
From people skills to leadership, a career in nursing can set you up for success in countless other careers, including technology, marketing and more. So, whether you’re a nurse looking to specialise in a different medical field or thinking about venturing into a new career altogether, let’s explore the top ten transferable skills in nursing that you can apply to future roles.
What’s in this article?
- Top 10 transferable skills in nursing
- How to develop your transferable nursing skills for a career change
- Kickstarting a new career with FDM
Top 10 transferable skills in nursing
We explore the following top ten transferable skills in nursing and how they can help you in your future career endeavours:
- People skills
- Critical thinking
- Working under pressure
- Attention to detail
1. People skills
Working in healthcare, nursing in particular, it’s imperative that you have excellent people skills since you are working directly with patients, their families, and other healthcare professionals. Within this, effective communication is key, as you are often required to explain medical procedures and provide instructions. Empathy and compassion are also extremely important as nurses are required to care for vulnerable patients who are in pain and distress.
These people skills can be translated into any professional environment and can be used to help you communicate effectively in a number of situations, such as working with important stakeholders or in a client-facing role.
2. Critical thinking
Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly, logically and rationally, which helps you act in the most appropriate way, especially in stressful situations. Working as a nurse, you will likely experience high-pressure situations on a daily basis that will require you to think critically, make decisions and take action, with minimal errors.
The ability to think critically can be useful in various professional scenarios, across industries, and can aid with effective decision-making, risk assessment, problem-solving, and innovation. For example, when working as a Data Analyst, you will be required to analyse data and leverage your critical thinking skills in order to interpret the data accurately and draw meaningful conclusions.
Nurses require great organisational skills since they care for multiple patients simultaneously, work on changing shift times, maintain patient records, and deal with resource management. Yet, organisational skills are sought-after in almost all other industries, too. Being able to organise your time effectively and prioritise tasks can help you become more efficient and productive - two buzzwords that really make employers tick!
4. Working under pressure
There’s no doubt that working in the healthcare industry can be a demanding job that requires you to work under pressure, especially with current staff shortages. As such, nurses develop the skills to work in high-pressure situations, some of which are life or death - literally!
Working under pressure is a valuable skill to have in any industry, enabling you to deliver quality work and meet tight deadlines. Employers are on the lookout for professionals who can maintain level-headedness in stressful situations and deliver excellent work, whatever the scenario.
5. Attention to detail
Dealing with a patient's health leaves very little room for mistakes, which means nurses must have excellent attention to detail. Whether that’s measuring medication doses or diagnosing patients’ symptoms, making an error in the medical field can lead to serious consequences. As such, nurses develop strong attention to detail, which can be valuable in other jobs, such as editorial roles, software development or business intelligence.
Nurses work as part of a team, collaborating alongside other nurses, doctors, surgeons, therapists, and other healthcare professionals. They learn to collaborate, delegate responsibilities, and contribute effectively within the team, developing strong teamwork and collaboration skills, as well as handling conflict.
Many jobs will require you to work as part of a team and collaborate with colleagues on projects, which means teamwork skills are imperative. The experience you gain working as a nurse could help you land a job in other team-oriented roles, or even those that require you to work in an agile working environment or project management.
Adaptability can be applied to various situations in a nursing career, be that adjusting your shift times to make up for staff shortages or dealing with health conditions you’ve never experienced before. However, new obstacles and unforeseen challenges are also bound to crop up in any field. That’s why adaptability is such a critical skill that employees seek in a candidate, no matter the industry!
Nurses deal with hefty workloads and often find themselves spread thin. Although this is something that definitely needs to be remedied in the healthcare industry, it does show the resilience and skill of trained nurses when it comes to multitasking and handling heavy workloads. This can be applied across many different jobs that require you to keep multiple tabs open without compromising on quality.
Patience is a valuable skill to have as it enables you to stay calm and collected, even when things take a long time or you are dealing with a difficult situation or person. Juggling multiple patients, families, and other staff members, nurses are certainly familiar with this and must practise patience in their day-to-day role. In this way, nurses have the patience required to work in some of the most testing workplaces, such as in teaching or customer service.
Employers appreciate a candidate who can take charge of a situation and lead their team to success. In many instances, this will require you to be selfless and put others’ needs before your own - something every nurse is familiar with. Even if you’re not applying for a leadership-specific role, leadership skills demonstrate that you are capable of using initiative, inspiring others, and acting in the interests of your team as a whole. This could be applied to a new role where you are required to manage either people or projects, or both.
How to develop your transferable nursing skills for a career change
As discussed above, working as a nurse will equip you with a number of transferable skills, which can all be highly valuable for individuals looking to make a career change. However, in some instances, these skills may require some nurturing in order to get them up to scratch for a new job. Here are our top tips on how to develop your transferable nursing skills and demonstrate them to future employers when going through a career change.
- Identify your transferable skills - The first step to developing your transferable skills is to identify which skills you actually have and go from there. This can take some self-awareness, but it can also be a good idea to ask your colleagues for their honest feedback to better understand your strengths.
- Research potential career options - Then, you will need to analyse your skill set and find a career that matches your strengths and fulfils your passions.
- Upskill yourself - Taking courses or attending workshops to build on specific skills and upskilling yourself can be a great idea. This way, you can make sure your skills are up-to-date or even gain industry-recognised qualifications.
- Start networking - Networking is a fantastic way to meet like-minded professionals and industry experts. Joining a professional organisation or connecting with individuals online can help you network, brush up on your skills, and learn more about your chosen career.
- Update your employment documents - It is imperative that you update all of your job application materials, such as your CV and cover letter to ensure they demonstrate your transferable skills in the best light.
- Practice interviewing for new roles - Similarly, you will need to practise how to talk about these skills in job interviews. You can use the STAR method to help you.
Kickstarting a new career with FDM
If you’re looking to make the transition from a nursing career to technology or business, FDM could be the perfect opportunity for you. Our Ex-Forces Programme provides you with expert training in your chosen field, as well as hands-on experience with our industry-leading clients. This gives you the kickstart you need to jump into a new career path, along with a range of learning aids and support programmes to help you throughout your journey.