Registered nurses (RN) must be able to perform a wide variety of nursing skills at their job. These nursing skills are usually learned while in nursing school. However, some more advanced nursing skills will be learned by the nurse while working at their nursing job. Nursing school teaches the nursing student basic nursing skills such as starting an IV, inserting a Foley catheter, and putting on sterile gloves etc. In order to learn more advanced nursing skills, such as arterial line maintenance, ventilator management, and dialysis therapy, the new nurse must specialize in a nursing field that requires nurses to perform these nursing skills on a daily basis. For a complete list of nursing specialties see our RN Jobs category.
What are Nursing Skills?
A nursing skill is a task that can only be completed by someone who is a Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) who has been deemed competent to complete this task. In order to be deemed competent to perform a nursing skill, the nurse must complete a competency skills check off list. This competency skills check off list is completed by a nurses manager or preceptor. By the manager or preceptor completing this checklist it states the nurses is competent to perform these nursing skills independently. Many hospitals require nurses annually to submit a competency checklist that has been initialed by a colleague or manager and this is usually due every year at their annual evaluation. This helps the nurse keep up to date with their nursing skills.
In nursing school, nursing students are tested on nursing skills by performing certain clinical nursing skills in front of their instructor. The setting these skills are performed in is setup like a hospital room with a mannequin in a hospital bed. Sometimes mannequin simulators are used to help the student learn.
These stimulated mannequins can be manipulated by the instructor to have problems that the student may encounter in the real hospital setting. For example, a stimulated mannequin can be programmed to go into cardiac arrest, which in turn would test the student on how they would respond correctly. Their instructor would carefully watch and make sure the student is performing their nursing skills correctly. These test are called nursing skills check off tests. A nursing skills checklist is usually provided to the student to study before the skills test.
Where Will I learn How to Perform Nursing Clinical Skills?
During nursing school a nursing student will learn how to perform basic nursing skills. Nursing school will lay the foundation for basic nursing skills, but if a nurse wants to expand their clinical nursing skills they will have to specialize in a certain nursing field that interest them. During nursing school the nursing student will learn basic skills like how to make a hospital bed, how to properly wash your hands, how to take a blood pressure and heart rate, provide hygiene to a patient, how to complete a full body assessment etc with many of these skills being basic skills that could be performed by a nurses aid. Once these skills are mastered, the nursing student will learn slightly more advanced skills that only a licensed nurse can perform, such as how to give an injection, how to start an IV, and how to insert a Foley catheter etc.
If a nurse is interested in learning advanced nursing skills like how to give dialysis therapy or how to manage ventilators etc., the nurse should apply to nursing positions where they will learn how to do these tasks. Many hospitals will also provide training classes that will teach advanced nursing skills.
Nursing Skills List
Below are very helpful videos and step-by-step instructions on how to perform a wide variety of nursing skills. We have complied a list of nursing skills that you will learn in nursing school or while at your nursing job. Nursing students who are waiting to take their skills tests can use these videos and articles to help them study and practice. Nurses can use these videos and articles to help refresh them on certain nursing skills they may not use everyday in their job. Check out this page daily as we continually add nursing skills.
The list below contains some common nursing skills. For more examples, visit our online database for clinical nursing skills and techniques.
List of Nursing Skills with Videos and Step-by-Step Instructions:
- How to take a Blood Pressure using the Two-Step Technique
- How to Put on Sterile Gloves | Donning Sterile Gloves Clinical Nursing Skills
- How to Start an IV | Starting an IV Clinical Nursing Skills
- Indwelling Foley Catheter | How to Insert a Foley Catheter
- How to Draw Blood
- Tracheostomy Suctioning | Suctioning a Tracheostomy Clinical Nursing Skills
- How to Change a Colostomy Bag | Colostomy Care
- How to Give an IM Injection | Intramuscular Injection
- How to Change a Wet to Dry Dressing Clinical Nursing Skills |Wet to Dry Dressing
- How to Give a Subcutaneous (Sub-q) Injection | Subcutaneous Injection Technique
- How to Take Blood Pressure Manually
- How to Draw Up & Mix Insulin
- PICC Line Care & Changing
- PICC Line Removal
- How to Take a Pulse
- Nasogastric Tube Insertion (How to insert NG tube)
- NG Tube Placement
- Blood Culture Collection
- Leopold Maneuvers
- Chest Tube Care
- How to Give an Enema