11 Crucial Skills and Traits for Nurses

By Staff Reporter - 08 Mar '21 08:32AM
  • 11 Crucial Skills and Traits for Nurses
  • (Photo : 11 Crucial Skills and Traits for Nurses)

Nurses are some of the most important healthcare professionals in the industry. If you have ever been sick or injured and had to pay a visit to the hospital, chances are that one of your first interactions there was with a caring nurse. Nurses are responsible for managing patients, providing the best standards of care, and offering various different types of support to their patients and the affected families. In addition, nurses often play a key role in the healthcare industry by advocating for their patients, improving healthcare policies, and acting as mediators between patients and other healthcare professionals. 

They provide advice and counseling to patients for improving their health and well-being, working in a wide range of healthcare settings including hospitals, doctors' offices, medical centers, retail clinics, outpatient clinics, and in various settings within the communities that they serve. Nurses are required to possess a high level of education with the option to improve on this throughout their career; successful and ambitious nurses have no end of opportunities when it comes to career specialization and progression. 

If you are interested in becoming a nurse and enjoying all the benefits of this highly rewarding and exciting career path, here are some of the most crucial skills that you will need to bring to the table. 


One of the biggest and more important skills for nurses is empathy. A little bit of empathy can go a long way when you are working with people who are in pain, confused, frightened, and perhaps even angry. Nurses know how to put themselves in their patients' shoes and imagine how they must be feeling right now in this terrible situation. They can easily treat others how they would like to be treated in almost any situation, and don't think twice about being kind and empathetic even with patients who might be showing difficult behaviors. A good nurse is able to sit with their patients and ensure that they feel heard, understood, and validated during some of the toughest times in their lives, which can make all the difference to how the patient feels in the moment. Empathy is necessary in order to help patients feel safe and cared for. 


The best nurses tend to be very highly organized people. They have a lot of work to juggle and no two days are the same, so they need to know exactly what they are doing next in order to stay on top of everything. To be successful as a nurse, you will need to be a very efficient individual who can stick to a schedule and get things done. You might be responsible for several different patients at the same time, and have lots of things to organize such as medication, treatment plans, and everything else. Nurses know just how important it is that they get everything right the first time, which is where the skills of efficiency and organization come into play. It is important that you are able to quickly prioritize tasks, especially when the health of your patient is heavily reliant on you being able to do this. 


Along with being efficient and organized, a good nurse is also somebody who is very flexible. In this profession, things can change within seconds and it's important to be able to adapt to the constant changes and update your priorities to make sure that everything gets done right and on time for your patients. You could be working with certain patients for the day when all of a sudden, a new patient arrives with more critical injuries or health conditions, who will need to quickly be put to the top of your priority list. Nurses are always reorganizing their day and juggling different patients to ensure that everybody gets the right level of care from them. Naturally, nurses need to be people who can handle change very well. 

Willingness to Learn

As a nurse, you'll never stop learning new things. The field of healthcare and medicine is constantly evolving and changing, and in this profession, there will always be new research, machinery, techniques, and more to learn about. Staying on top of these constant changes and being able to apply them in your day-to-day work is absolutely essential. In fact, many nurses are required to take yearly training courses and exams simply to ensure that their knowledge isn't outdated. 

A positive attitude towards change and learning new things is critical in this profession. And, it doesn't stop with the need to learn about the changing face of healthcare. Nurses who are always hungry to learn more have tons of different opportunities to consider, whether they want to climb to the top in nurse management or gain more autonomy and job responsibility as a nurse practitioner. You can check out the range of online advanced nursing degrees available by visiting the site for Marymount University


Good communication is absolutely vital to a successful career in nursing. Communication skills come in a lot of different types. As a nurse, you'll need to be skilled at active listening, being able to get your point across clearly and have a solid understanding of non-verbal communication, as oftentimes, patients might struggle to tell you exactly how they are feeling in the moment. The ability to actively listen to your patients is important for determining the best level of care for them and making sure that they feel heard and understood by their healthcare provider, no matter the situation. In addition, nurses need to be able to get information across clearly when they are talking with other members of the team about patient care as even the simplest of misunderstandings can often have dire consequences for patients. 

Critical Thinking

The nursing career is one that is very fast-paced, with things changing all the time. Whatever level of nursing you work at, it's very rare that any two days are going to be the same when you are working on the front line with patients. In order to ensure that you can provide the best standard of care for your patients as a nurse, critical thinking is a key skill to develop. Creativity often goes hand in hand with this, as there might often be situations where you are required to think quickly on your feet in order to adapt to a sudden change and make sure that a patient in crisis is treated quickly and effectively. Strong critical thinking skills allow good nurses to remain calm under pressure and quickly come up with the right solution. 


If you have ever sought healthcare attention and experienced a nurse's care, you will probably agree that the one main personality trait that all good nurses share is kindness. Even when nurses need to be firm with a patient, they can do it in a way that exudes kindness, caring, and empathy. But as a nurse, you might experience situations where the people that you treat are not always kind to you. You might be working with patients who are scared and upset and lash out as a result. A good nurse always knows that this isn't personal, and is able to respond with the kindness and compassion that their patients need to feel safer in their situation. 


Patience is another virtue of a good nurse. As a nurse, you will need to have a lot of patience to deal with this high-pressure job that can often become quite stressful. There might be moments where patients are unwilling to comply with their treatment, or days where the pressure feels like it's constantly mounting without a break. As they work long hours to ensure that their patients are getting the best levels of care, nurses need to have a lot of patience with both others and themselves. A good nurse understands that it's not always possible to get the best results overnight, and are typically very patient, persistent, and committed to reaching their goals either in terms of patient care or in advancing their professional careers. 

Observation and Attention to Detail

When it comes to nursing, the little things matter more than in most other areas of life. In this career, nurses are responsible for the health of others and are acutely aware that missing one small thing could sometimes be the difference between life and death for their patients. Even the smallest of mistakes or errors could have huge consequences, such as patients receiving the wrong dose of medication that could make their condition worse. A good nurse understands just how important it is for their attention to detail to be strong, and never misses a beat. In addition, a good nurse is always aware of what is going on around them. They are extremely vigilant and on alert, ready to be there as soon as they are needed. Even the smallest of observational lapses could cause serious problems with patient care, and when other healthcare professionals are not always readily available, it's down to nurses to ensure that medical attention is given the moment it is needed. 

A Strong Sense of Responsibility

The best nurses do not approach their jobs lightly. They are hyper-aware of the huge level of responsibility that they are taking on in the workplace, and know that at times, the patient's health or even their life could hang in the balance. Because of this, good nurses hold themselves to impeccable standards. They are able to self-reflect, easily learn from any mistakes that they make, and hold themselves accountable to do better every single day. They work with a high sense of integrity and put their patients first in everything that they do. Nurses who do well in this career never assume that they know everything. They are often quick to ask for help when they need it, and understand that they are responsible for learning the right way to do things, along with being able to quickly admit and learn from any mistakes, no matter how small. 

Mental and Physical Strength

Finally, nurses are some of the strongest people that you will ever meet. A good nurse knows that in order to be able to do his or her job well, they need to be both physically and mentally strong. The day-to-day work of a nurse can be very physically demanding work. Nurses often spend a large percentage of their shift on their feet and as a result, need to be committed to looking after their own physical health. 

It is also important for nurses to be mentally strong and resilient since this career can be mentally demanding and stressful. Nurses need to be able to be there for their patients during tough times and able to continue on with their day, providing other patients with high standards of care even after experiencing an awful situation. There is a lot of mental and emotional pressure involved with being a nurse, which is why it's so important for these healthcare professionals to be able to look after their own mental health to a very high standard. In order to ensure that their patients are supported and cared for, nurses need to have a very high level of emotional intelligence. This often involves being able to say the right things at the right times, and ties in with the empathy that is absolutely necessary for a successful career in nursing. Nurses get anxious, stressed, and depressed too - and they need to be able to seek help and support when they need it.

A career in nursing could be one of the most rewarding things that you will ever do in life. As a nurse, you will be able to make a real difference in the lives of others and work in a career that allows you to feel fulfilled and satisfied every day. However, in order to be successful as a nurse, it's important to possess a skill-set that equips you to deal with the demands of the job. These are just some of the main qualities, skills, and traits that are absolutely critical to a successful career in nursing. 

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