It takes a very special person to be a great nurse; not everyone can handle the pressure and demands that come with this critical role. But for those who choose to pursue nursing, it can be an incredibly rewarding career. If you’re considering a career in nursing, see if you have the top 10 traits that the best nurses have.

1. Integrity

Every day, during their working hours, nurses make critical decisions that impact the lives of others. They deal with sensitive information, make recommendations about treatment plans, and are responsible for helping people live their healthiest lives. The role comes with a lot of responsibility, which means nurses must act with the utmost integrity. The best nurses are honest, have a strong moral compass, and always do what’s right – even when it’s not the easiest path.

2. Empathy

It’s a nurse’s job to guide patients through incredibly stressful situations. While doctors are no doubt critical players, they’re often more pressed for time and only spend a few minutes with patients. On the other hand, nurses are much more present; they’re the heart of the patient experience, and their emotional support is vital in a patient feeling cared for. The best nurses are able to empathize with a patient to fine-tune their approach and tone to meet the patient’s needs; they can relate to their patients’ experiences, even if they’re not going through it, and practice compassion, patience and warmth.

3. Communication

Nurses work in coordination with many other care providers – other nurses, doctors, medical technicians, administrative professionals and more. It’s critical that a nurse is able to communicate effectively as a member of that team, relaying patient information from one person to the next in both verbal and written communication. This nursing skill also helps in her interactions with clients; a quality nurse can communicate with clarity and compassion when working with patients, especially when delivering bad news.

4. Confidence

A nurse is a leader, no matter her ranking within a medical organization. Specifically, she is a leader in her interactions with patients. Patients look to nurses for both medical guidance and emotional support. The best nurses appear in control of the situation at all times, calm, and assured that the care being administered is what’s best for the patient. This confidence is infectious, empowering the patient to feel confident about their own health and experience.

5. Endurance

Nurses often work long hours and late nights in high-stress, high-pressure environments. While the job can be exhausting at times, there’s little room for error when a patient’s health is on the line. Great nurses have the stamina to administer quality care consistently, regardless of whether they’ve already been working for 10 hours in a single day.

6. Kindheartedness

A nurse must be simultaneously strong and tender; she needs to exude confidence and strength, but is also dealing with people who, in some instances, are suffering from debilitating health issues. In every patient interaction, it’s important for nurses to practice kindness and compassion, even (and perhaps especially) during high-stress, high-intensity moments.

7. Great memory

While this trait might not seem as important, a nurse’s ability to remember information can be the difference between life and death for patients. While in the throes of a hectic shift, dealing with multiple patients at the same time, a nurse must remember the intricacies of each patient to ensure she administers the proper care to each person. This ability to retain information in the short-term ensures she doesn’t make mistakes that could harm a patient. Long-term memory is also a great asset to the best nurses; those who see the same patients throughout their lives can build lasting, meaningful relationships by remembering each person and their medical history.

8. Emotional stability

A nurse’s day can be filled with ups and downs. Depending on the work environment, she may be faced with experiences that cause extreme joy, sadness and exhaustion , all in a single shift. Through it all, she must be able to maintain a level of emotional stability that allows her to administer quality care.

9. Respect for others

Nurses don’t always get to choose the patients they work with, which can mean they often interact with people who are very different from them. They also work closely with people who are experiencing emotional and physical trauma, and may not be in the frame of mind to act with consideration for others. No matter who she’s working with, a great nurse upholds her own moral character and shows all her patients respect. She’s able to remain impartial and deliver the best care at all times.

10. Organization

Nurses are responsible for documenting very important medical information during and after patient interactions. The best nurses are very organized; they are able to keep track of medications, record important data and retain information easily. This skill helps a great nurse do her job more effectively and allows her to stay focused on patients, not remembering where she left her stethoscope.

Is nursing the right career for me?

Deciding if nursing is the right career for you requires thoughtful reflection on the above qualities, values, and aspirations. Nursing could be an ideal fit if you possess a deep sense of integrity, empathy, and a genuine desire to help others during their most vulnerable moments. Consider whether effective communication with patients and within a collaborative healthcare team aligns with your strengths.

If you find fulfillment in providing emotional support, practicing kindness, and maintaining emotional stability in the face of diverse challenges, these qualities are highly valuable in nursing. Additionally, nursing may offer the fulfilling and rewarding career you seek if you thrive in dynamic, high-pressure environments, have the endurance to handle long hours, and can stay organized while managing critical medical information.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, the nursing profession demands a unique blend of qualities that extend beyond medical expertise. It requires individuals with unwavering integrity, boundless empathy, effective communication skills, and a remarkable ability to maintain composure in high-stress situations. The best nurses are skilled professionals and compassionate caregivers who provide holistic support to patients during their most vulnerable moments. Choosing a career in nursing is a commitment to serving others with kindness, respect, and unwavering dedication. Reflecting on these essential qualities can guide individuals in determining whether nursing aligns with their values and aspirations, offering a fulfilling and rewarding path dedicated to making a meaningful difference in people’s lives.

As you explore this career path, consider the American Institute of Alternative Medicine’s School of Nursing. AIAM’s unique approach to education emphasizes small classroom sizes, meaningful relationships between students and professors, and a focus on holistic treatments. Learn more today as you explore whether nursing is right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the essential qualities for a successful nursing career?

Successful nurses often possess empathy, effective communication skills, critical thinking, adaptability, attention to detail, and a strong sense of professionalism.

How important is empathy in nursing, and how can it be developed?

Empathy is crucial in nursing as it helps build trust and rapport with patients. It is developed through active listening, perspective-taking, and engaging in reflective practices to understand the patient’s experience.

What role does effective communication play in nursing, and how can nurses improve their communication skills?

Effective communication is essential for conveying information accurately and building solid relationships with patients and colleagues. Nurses can improve communication skills through practice, feedback, and ongoing education.

Why is critical thinking important, and how can nurses enhance this skill?

Critical thinking is vital for making sound clinical judgments. Nurses can enhance this skill by continually seeking to broaden their knowledge, asking questions, and engaging in problem-solving activities. Reflecting on experiences also contributes to the development of critical thinking.

How does attention to detail impact patient care, and how can nurses cultivate this quality?

Attention to detail is crucial to ensure accurate assessments, medication administration, and overall patient safety. Nurses can cultivate this quality by developing a systematic approach to tasks, double-checking information, and focusing on precision.

What does professionalism in nursing entail, and how can nurses maintain a high level of professionalism?

Professionalism involves maintaining a high standard of conduct, ethics, and appearance. Nurses can achieve this by adhering to the nursing code of ethics, staying current with best practices, and continually seeking opportunities for professional development.