Is Nursing For Me? 5 Must-Have Nursing Qualities
By Moira K. McGhee, Contributor
As you’re preparing to become a nurse, you’ll learn many important skills that help you properly care for your patients. Many of these skills involve medical knowledge and other clinical skills acquired through formal education and training programs. However, many qualities of a good nurse involve skills you can’t learn in the classroom. These nursing qualities are developed over time and are what truly tell you whether nursing is for you.
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5 qualities of a good nurse
Good qualities of nurses include more than just solid technical skills and intelligence. To be a great nurse, you need a balanced mix of intellect and people skills.
Nancy Brook, RN, MSN, with Stanford Healthcare and author of The Nurse Practitioner’s Bag, highlights these important qualities to be successful as a nurse:
- Strong interpersonal communication skills
- Technology savvy
- Problem solving skills
- Hard working
Many of Brook’s qualities also mesh with five of the top qualities of a good nurse mentioned by numerous nursing schools and training programs. Embrace these must-have nursing qualities to become a remarkable nurse.
Compassion is vital to your patients’ well-being and requires a deep awareness of and sympathy for your patients’ suffering. Making patients more comfortable when they’re in pain or feeling ill further demonstrates compassion in nursing and provides the support your patients need to face difficult and stressful situations. Research shows that a nurse’s compassion can actually help decrease a patient’s suffering, states Nebraska Methodist College.
2. Good Communication Skills
Because so much of your job relies upon it, having good communication skills ranks high on the list of good nursing qualities. The ability to gather and convey information accurately and concisely are key attributes you’ll develop throughout your career, but having good communication skills goes even further. BoardVitals emphasizes the importance of being able to communicate with patients from diverse backgrounds and age groups in a way they can easily understand. This is especially important when relaying critical medical information from doctors to patients while patients may be feeling angry, anxious, sad, scared or overwhelmed.
3. Critical Thinking
Critical thinking skills are essential for excelling in the nursing field because they allow you to quickly assess a situation and make crucial decisions without hesitation. This literally can mean the difference between life and death for your patients. Rasmussen College stresses the importance of developing critical thinking skills because being able to find the best resolution in high-pressure scenarios quickly and confidently isn’t something you need every now and then; you need it every single shift.
If you don’t consider yourself a critical thinker, it doesn’t necessarily mean nursing isn’t for you. There are ways to strengthen this nursing quality, including applying the nursing process. The nursing process is a scientific method used by nurses to ensure quality of care, which can help you narrow down your options to select the best one in any given situation and includes five steps:
The Nursing Journal also emphasizes the value of critical thinking as it helps nurses prioritize and make key decisions in clinical care and when making important policy decisions.
Compassion is a key element of empathy, but being empathetic takes compassion a step further. Highly empathetic nurses are never in a rush and always take time to listen to their patients’ needs, even when they need to get their own work done.
“Patients always seek empathy from medical stuff,” says Stan Loskutov with the Medical Billing Group. “Nurses must be kind enough to understand the patient might be in pain and treat patients with respect.”
Providing comfort and responding with empathy requires you to listen to your patients and address their concerns accordingly. Being able to put yourself in your patients' shoes and understand what they and their family members are going through also allows you to act on this understanding in appropriate, therapeutic ways.
5. Detail Oriented
Being detail oriented goes hand in hand with being organized, and both are essential qualities of a good nurse. You’ll handle an almost overwhelming number of patients on a daily basis, so Northeastern University Nursing stresses the importance of your organizational skills to ensure you are prepared at all times and avoid medical mistakes that could have serious consequences on a patient’s health.
Doctors and patients rely on a nurse’s ability to be focused and detail oriented to avoid mistakes when it comes to administering care and providing medication for the same reason. You also can’t afford to be absentminded or sloppy while writing down important details about patients, such as symptoms, vitals and medications administered, that must be accurately passed along to other medical professionals.
A career in nursing is very demanding but can also be very rewarding. To decide whether nursing is for you —besides having all the qualities of a good nurse listed above —you should also determine whether you can handle working in a high-stress environment where you must balance providing compassionate care with making difficult decisions swiftly. In the end, if you possess an overwhelming desire to help others and make a difference in people’s lives, then nursing is an ideal choice for you.