Nurses are crucial members of a healthcare facility. They must care for and treat their patients and collaborate with other providers. Furthermore, to become highly competent, they must display a wide array of skills that tend to their patient’s physical and emotional needs. While providing the proper medical treatment is the main focus, offering emotional support can help patients and their families process their condition.

In this article, we’ll explore the essential skills needed to become a nurse, whether they need personal skills to be a nurse, and more.

What Do Nurses Do?


While the specific duties and responsibilities of nurses change depending on the specialty and work setting, generally, their duties include the following:

  • Assessing patients
  • Drawing blood
  • Recording detailed health care histories
  • Conducting physical exams
  • Providing counseling to patients
  • Checking their patients’ vital signs
  • Coordinating care with other healthcare providers
  • Listening to their patients and tending to their physical and emotional needs
  • Keeping up-to-date with advances in medications and treatment plans
  • Observing changes in their patients’ state and symptoms.

Skills Needed to Be a Nurse


Nurses, throughout their careers, need a combination of hard skills acquired by education, certification, or training and soft skills that are a mix of behavioral traits and qualities.

Some hard skills for nurses are:

  • Urgent care
  • Technology skills
  • Patient assessment

Some soft skills for nurses include the following:

  • Communication
  • Physical endurance
  • Teamwork
  • Empathy
  • Critical thinking
  • Interpersonal


As a nurse, you’ll have to use communication skills to interact with patients, family members, and other care providers. Nurses must inform doctors and other nurses at the end of the shift about their patients’ physical state and how to support them best. Thus ensuring their patients get the best possible treatment and avoid mistakes.

They must also interact with patients about the treatment plan and answer any questions. They also have to educate their patients on how to manage their diseases, for example, how to take their medications, what lifestyle changes they need to make, etc.

Therefore, communication skills are essential in a healthcare facility, and nurses, more specifically, must possess the right tone, confidence, clarity, responsiveness, verbal and written communication, active listening ability, and positive body language.

Critical thinking

Nurses have to make crucial decisions that can affect their patients’ lives. That’s why nurses must possess highly functioning critical thinking skills to be able to perceive and define problems, generate alternatives, identify goals, take action, and evaluate solutions. Some of the traits that can help nurses develop and enhance these skills are:

  • Self-confidence
  • Reflectiveness
  • Inquisitiveness
  • Clarity
  • Logic.


While nursing schools and programs do their best to prepare nurses for the dynamic work environment, clinical work experience is the most effective way for nurses to develop problem-solving skills. These skills are vital as the patient’s physical condition can change quickly, and nurses must think on their feet to best solve the problem.



Empathy is an integral part of nursing care. People facing health problems can be upset and stressed and may find themselves feeling lost. As nurses have first-hand contact with patients, showing empathy and compassion allows them to support their patients and families and provide accurate care. While it can often be challenging to help people overcome stress and grief, building rapport with patients and communicating with them every step of the way can make the difficult situation easier for their patients.

Some skills that go hand in hand with empathy are:

  • Compassion
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Conflict resolution
  • Validation
  • Understanding
  • Listening skills


Being part of a medical team makes teamwork essential to providing optimal skills. Nurses must possess these skills to be able to understand the workplace culture, resolve conflicts, and communicate with colleagues. Teamwork skills ensure a positive work environment for all those involved, and they include:

  • Rapport-building
  • Reliability
  • Tolerance
  • Open-mindedness
  • Planning
  • Listening


Social skills allow nurses to work with others in a positive and personable manner effectively. They are part of an extensive team; therefore, they need interpersonal skills to collaborate and work well with others. They’re also the liaison between patients and medical professionals, which makes it essential that nurses build trust and rapport in their work environment.

Interpersonal skills a nurse must possess include:

  • Cooperation
  • Patience
  • Motivation
  • Flexibility
  • Leadership
  • Dependability
  • Responsibility

Attention to detail

Nurses have a heavy workload as they care for multiple patients, each needing a different treatment and spot if anything is amiss. They must pay attention to any changes in their condition and symptoms and ensure they’re receiving the proper treatment and dosage of medication. Another duty includes checking the serial number, expiry date, and batch number of drugs.

Nurses that want to be more detail-oriented should develop skills like:

  • Observation
  • Focus
  • Patience
  • Organization
  • Time management

Core nursing skills

Nursing schools and programs focus on teaching and developing core nursing skills to guarantee that nurses deliver high-quality and effective care. Core nursing skills include gentleness, responsibility, accountability, observation, good judgment, efficiency, general care, research, self-development, stress adjustment, etc.

Patient assessment


As an essential part of their daily duties, nurses must have patient assessment skills to determine the next treatment steps.  Patient assessment skills include the knowledge about the following:

  • Vital signs
  • ECG
  • Pain
  • Mobility
  • Nutrition and hydration
  • Critical care skills
  • Mental health
  • Tissue viability

These skills allow them to assess urgent situations and take the best course of action.

Urgent care

While nurses can take different roles in a medical facility or department, they must possess basic urgent care skills to provide care for patients in life-threatening conditions (heavy bleeding, cardiac arrest, airway obstruction). Some of those skills are:

  • CPR
  • Infection control
  • Wound care
  • Vital signs

Physical endurance

Many nurses have to work long shifts and be on their feet for hours. They also offer physical assistance by moving their patients and preventing falls or carrying and moving heavy equipment or beds. Therefore, nurses must be physically fit to carry out their tasks successfully and avoid injuries.

Technology skills

For nurses to provide the best treatment possible, they have to keep up-to-date with the most recent technological advancements in medical equipment and healthcare software.

Technology skills include the knowledge for:

  • Maintaining databases
  • Documenting and maintaining the patient’s medical history, assessment, and treatment
  • Using healthcare software
  • Keeping records
  • Setting up and monitoring equipment

Wrapping Up

Possessing these nursing skills will not only make you a better nurse but also help you make an impact on your patients and colleagues. Also, don’t be discouraged, as no one hones the skills from the first day. Continuous education and work experience will help you develop and master these skills, especially if you’re willing to work hard and are compassionate and caring.

So if becoming a nurse fits your life goals and is compatible with your personality, check out our Registered Nursing Program.