What makes an excellent nurse?

Posted on 14 May 2019

Every year, Mediclinic pays tribute to its family of nursing staff by hosting the Nursing Excellence Awards. These annual events give hospitals an opportunity to identify nurses who embody the spirit of expertise you can trust and recognise the hard work and passion that goes into this profession. But who are these winners? And what exactly are the qualities that make an excellent nurse?

Nurses are at the core of the Mediclinic business. Each hospital has hundreds of staff members and supporting doctors, and the family of nursing staff play a crucial role in connecting patients with the expertise they require.

Because they play such an important and wide-ranging role within any hospital, not all nurses are the same, there are categories, based on their qualifications, explains Donna Jacobs, Human Resources Business Partner: Mediclinic Panorama.

“We employ Enrolled Nurses and Enrolled Nursing Assistants, Professional Nurses, and Senior Professional Nurses,” she says. “Each of these has certain duties, designated roles and responsibilities. Some can administer medication or injections, some can’t as an example. And as nurses become more experienced, they may also take on supervisory roles within their unit.”

In South Africa, a nurse’s scope of practice is regulated by the SA Nursing Council. The SANC is responsible for setting and maintaining standards of nursing education and practice nationwide. All nurses at Mediclinic are required to be registered with the council.

“There are a variety of colleges and universities that offer nursing training – in fact, Mediclinic has its own training centres. Once a nurse has qualified, he or she must be registered with the SANC. In addition to registration, all nurses also need to pay an annual license fee allowing them to practice for the next year.”

Jacobs explains that these minimum requirements are only the beginning. “From a human resources perspective, we look for people who embody the values of the company,” she says. “When we recruit new nurses into the company, we are looking for people who have the kind of expertise that we can trust, and that our patients can trust as well.”

To be a good nurse is to maintain a fine balance – these professionals need both critical thinking skills and a naturally caring nature. “In our screening and hiring interviews, we look for core competencies, of course, but in addition, we also want to measure how organically they would fit into the Mediclinic value system.”

Mediclinic nurses must be client-focused, says Jacobs. This refers to both patients and their families, and at the heart of that focus is safety. “Patient safety is a major emphasis for us across the whole hospital. Our nurses are constantly by our patients’ side. If someone comes in for complex surgery or minor treatment, our nurses are their first point of contact – that person must have the kind of presence that is both expert and trustworthy.”

A nurse is a link between the patient and all other stakeholders, says Jacobs. “Whatever their qualification or rank, this is their core purpose. They are there to accompany their patients through the hospital journey, being their advocate – to make sure they feel safe and cared for throughout. Once they leave our hospital they must feel like they have received the best possible care.”

The Nursing Excellence Awards offer a moment to recognise and appreciate the Mediclinic nurses who take the best possible care of their patients. Hospital staff members are asked to nominate the nurses they feel embody the spirit of trustworthy expertise, and anyone can win. “This year our theme for nominations were nurses who are both skilled enough to be strong and caring enough to be soft. These awards are not based on things like rank or seniority. They are designed to say regardless of nursing category, we see the good work you are doing, and we appreciate it.”

Published in Skills