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Nursing can be an exciting career path that’s both emotionally and economically rewarding—but it’s certainly not for everyone. It takes a special type of person to don scrubs and do some of society’s most challenging yet integral healthcare duties.

But what type of person does it take, exactly? What are the qualities of a nurse, and how does one know if the nursing profession is right for them?

If you’re considering a career in nursing and wonder if your persona aligns well with the nursing field, read on to learn some of the essential characteristics a registered nurse should possess. 

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#1 Compassion

When considering the qualities of a good nurse, the conversation always starts with compassion. Registered nurses often see people at their most vulnerable moments—physically, mentally, and medically. 

It takes compassion and empathy to understand and share the feelings of patients and their families. This emotional connection can significantly result in quality patient care and support that creates a nurturing environment for healing. A nurse practitioner who has a strong inclination to help people at their lowest possess one of the key character traits of a successful nurse. 

#2 Commitment

According to the career site Zippia, 56% of all types of nurses quit within two years of entering the nursing profession.1 Whether it’s due to stressful working conditions, an inability to deal with the realities of the job, or simply a desire to pursue other opportunities, this statistic suggests that most nurses quickly learn that nursing is not for them. 

Commitment and determination through tough times are essential traits for those interested in making a career out of the profession.

#3 Attention to Detail

Quality care can be the difference between life and death in the field of medicine. In fact, every year, over 250,000 Americans lose their lives due to negligence or malpractice.2

Mistakes such as administering the wrong medication to an allergic patient can have catastrophic consequences in nursing. Therefore, registered nurses must be diligent, detail-oriented, and precise when catering to the needs of their patients.

Nursing practice is also a dynamic field that calls for clinical reasoning and quick decision-making skills. Nurse leaders often face complex medical scenarios where they must scrutinize every detail, analyze information rapidly and make critical choices. This nursing skill is crucial in emergency situations where effective problem-solving can mean the difference between life and death.

#4 Patience

Despite being called patients, they’re not always all that patient with their healthcare providers. Nurses must maintain calmness, composure, and compassion when tending to those in need.

Likewise, when a facility isn’t well-stocked, or crews are short-staffed, good nurses must keep their heads and seek solutions rather than cracking at the difficulty of the situation.

#5 Effective Communication

Nurses interact with a wide variety of individuals while carrying out their duties. On any given day, they may encounter:

  • Their fellow nurses
  • Doctors
  • Other healthcare specialists
  • Patients
  • Patients’ families and caretakers
  • Clinical and administrative staff

All of these people may have some hand in treating the same patient a nurse is caring for. Hence, they may need to be informed about the specifics of patients’ conditions. To make things more complicated, they’ll all have varying degrees of medical knowledge to work with, so nurses must be able to communicate the intricacies of patient needs in a clear yet thorough way.

#6 Physical Fitness

There are no two ways about it—nursing is a physically demanding job. As such, a competent nurse should maintain a certain fitness level to carry out their duties effectively. Depending on the needs of their patient, a nurse may be expected to:

  • Walk, jog, or run
  • Rearrange heavy objects and cumbersome medical equipment
  • Move patients and reposition them in bed
  • Push patients on gurneys or wheelchairs
  • Perform routine hygiene on patients
  • Clean beds and change sheets

The scope of duties generally makes nursing more physically demanding than other jobs. In fact, studies show that nurses do a larger amount of physical activity than the general population.3 So, if the prospect of working with your body and mind entices you, nursing could be the right career path.

A nursing staff must possess these communication skills. It ensures accurate information exchange, improves teamwork, and delivers quality patient care that results in positive patient outcomes.

#7 A Thirst for Knowledge

Medical technology is constantly evolving. The best way to treat a condition today might not be the same next year (or even next month). Likewise, it’s always possible for new conditions and ailments to arise. When this happens, healthcare professionals must quickly learn how to treat them. 

Because the healthcare industry is ever-evolving, nurses must be flexible to adapt to new technologies, treatments, and patient care protocols. This flexibility applies to varying patient needs and unexpected situations that arise in the day to day nursing job. In short—successful nurses must be flexible and willing to adapt to any new equipment and nursing care techniques needed to best care for their patients. 

Improve Your Nursing Skills with a Degree from Alliant International University

If you want to build upon these essential nursing skills and kickstart your nursing career, consider the bachelor’s of science in nursing program (BSN) or master’s of science in nursing direct entry program (MSN-DE) at Alliant International University.

The BSN program at Alliant is an excellent option for a nursing student who hasn’t earned a bachelor’s degree and wants to dive headfirst into the world of nursing. In contrast, the MSN-DE program is designed for individuals with bachelor’s degrees in a related field (like biology), but want to switch career paths and pursue nursing education instead. 

Both nursing school programs offer state-of-the-art facilities, flexible online courses, and knowledgeable, dedicated educators who’ll help you develop the practical and theoretical knowledge you need to begin your nursing journey. 

Contact us today to learn more about our nursing school programs. 

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  1. What percentage of nurses quit in the first five years?. Zippia. December 7, 2022.….  Accessed February 13, 2023. 
  2. Anderson JG, Abrahamson K. Your health care may kill you: Medical errors. Studies in health technology and informatics. Accessed February 13, 2023.
  3. Chang HE, Cho S-H. Nurses' steps, distance traveled, and perceived physical demands in a three-shift schedule - human resources for health. BioMed Central. October 8, 2022.….  Accessed February 13, 2023. 

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