The Top 10 Qualities & Characteristics Every Nurse Should Have



Nursing is a truly inspiring and thoroughly rewarding career like no other, however, for all of the amazing things we experience on a daily basis, there are also tough parts to deal with, like stress, long hours and struggling to make time for family. Yet, despite these struggles, nursing is full of exceptional people that do amazing life changing things.

If you’ve decided to become a nurse, it’s likely that you’ve been inspired by some wonderful and caring nurses that you have encountered throughout your life – we know we have. These nurses are the ones that comfort and care in exactly the right way; the one’s that excel in the profession. But what is it that made them so inspirational? While the characteristics of a nurse can differ, there are some traits they all need in order to be successful.

Here are some qualities of a good nurse that make them perfect for the job:

1. A caring nature

So, what makes a good nurse? The best nurses are those that truly, and deeply, care for the patients they work with. Being able to comfort and support people who are ill, vulnerable, or scared, is the key to being a successful nurse.

You must take the time to make your patients feel wanted, supported, and be there as a friend, as well as the person assigned to look after them. Your patients will appreciate it immensely, as so will you, as you’ll form a bond that only exists in this wonderful career.


2. Be empathetic

For most patients, being in the hospital is a traumatic and emotional experience. One of the most important nursing qualities is the ability to empathize. Never think of, or treat, your patients as a burden.

To understand how patients are feeling, you have to put ourselves in their shoes and give them the emotional support they need.

We’ve talked to many nurses about the moments that made them proud to be a nurse, many of which involved forming a true empathetic connection with their patients. In many of these stories, patients would return year after year to thank their nurses. For patients, an empathetic nurse can be nothing short of life-changing.


3. Write everything down (in detail)

Great nurses are detail-orientated and write down everything. This is important because even a seemingly throwaway comment from a patient might hold the key to helping them. Make notes, and most importantly, listen – really listen – to your patients.

If you don’t already have one, get yourself a quality notebook and pen that you keep in good condition. You’ll be surprised how good stationery makes it much easier to write things down.


4.Be organized

Being organized is an absolute must as a nurse! Remembering when to give patients medication is the foundation of the job, so keep track of everything and be on time – no excuses!

5. Be emotionally stable

This one may sound obvious or even straight forward, but we are all infallible human beings, prone to emotions such as stress – which can sometimes affect our work. As a nurse, however, you have a responsibility to patients to offer stability while you’re at work.

One of the best ways to encourage emotional stability is to talk about the way you feel. Bottling things up, instead of communicating with the people around you, will only make things worse. As a nurse, you have a wealth of understanding people around you every day. Talk to them and tell them how you feel.

You could also try techniques such as meditation, which are relaxing and easy to do, without the need for expensive equipment. Exercise is also great for busting stress, and so are the outdoors, so take a long stroll in your time off to bust those negative vibes.


6.Be adaptable

As a nurse, every day is different. You never know what is going to happen, and if you ever think you do, something will come along to surprise you.

As a result, nurses have to be incredibly flexible. You must be prepared for all eventualities, and be able to act quickly when needed.


7.Have physical and mental endurance

Being a nurse means long days that will sometimes have little or no breaks. To get through a day, a nurse must have outstanding physical and mental endurance.
Exercise will help train your body and make it easier to get through the day, as will brain training apps and games.

Invest in comfortable footwear. You’ll be amazed at the difference good shoes make when you’re stood up all day. Many retailers will help you find shoes that fit your feet properly, supporting the key areas of your foot, and body – so take the time to do this.

Most importantly, take a break whenever you can. Tiredness has a profound effect on the body and mind, so if you get the chance to grab a quick nap to chip away at your sleepiness, take it.


8.Be a quick thinker (and have great judgement)

Nurses must be able to think quick on their feet and get decisions right – it could mean life or death for your patients. You can’t always wait for information, and must be able to use your knowledge, expertise, and experience to make swift judgement calls.

There is no substitute for experience, but knowledge is the key to being able to make good decisions. Read and learn constantly, especially if there are areas for improvement.


9.Be hard-working

Not only do you have to constantly keep learning as a nurse, but you also have to be naturally hard-working.

Be passionate about what you do, and strive to be the best. Go the extra mile with your patients, and prove to yourself that you are an inspiring person. By doing this for yourself, you’ll find it easier to be motivated and those around you will be impressed.


10.Be a good communicator

As a nurse, you are a member of an amazing, supportive community that will be there whenever you need it. A problem shared is a problem halved, and when working in the nursing profession you are never alone, so open up to the people around you and enjoy the incredible life-long relationships you will build over the course of your career.


Nursing is a noble profession, filled with wonderful people, and with the support of each other, you can go on providing great care to vulnerable patients all over the world.
The above characteristics of a nurse are what makes them so special and good at their job.

Are there any traits you think we have missed off? Have you ever been given some great advice that you would like to share with other nurses? Let us know in the comments below!


120 comments on “The Top 10 Qualities & Characteristics Every Nurse Should Have”

  1. Being part of a patient care team is laughable. Discussing a plan of care with the pt, their family and the PCP is also rare. Discharge planning is often a joke too.

    The time has come for nurses to change the fairy-tale perception of the nursing profession. Our true value in healthcare is undermined by this child-like vision of what a nurse is.


  2. I like my job now. I like my job because it gives me a chance to be nice to people, and that makes me feel good. I consider myself a professional and I keep my emotions out of my patients’ lives. I’m not in a fairy tale. I’m 47 years old and only been a nurse 5 years. If you asked me 14 months ago I would have been as bitter, crotchety, and disgusted as anyone else in the profession. I was one of the young who got eaten, and I’m not even young! You have to be able make changes when things aren’t working. It’s not perfect, no job is, but I find it rewarding at times. The pay is horrible for what we are expected to know and do and juggle. Nurses treat each other so poorly in some places that I don’t know how they can live with themselves. The worst physician I ever worked with used to be a nurse herself, and she continues to rip nurses some new orifices every time she has a chance. I think nursing is just another job. You do what you can tolerate in the working world. If you can deal with the ups and downs of nursing, for the few benefits- flexible scheduling, more days off- then I guess it’s worth staying. I can tell you this, I have met more personality-disordered, contemptful, controlling, and just plain mean and nasty people in nursing than anywhere else in one place. It’s scary.


  3. I just want to add to Dina’s #15… “don’t disrespect those who are under you” , and say “don’t disrespect any of your colleagues, even the doctors”. I have heard many Nurses be pretty hard on Doctors, but we have to remember, they are our colleagues too. Just like we are colleagues of CNA’s, we are all valuable to the degree that our education and background allows us to be. Doctors went to medical school, and have a depth of knowledge that is respectable, just as Nurses have a different kind of depth of knowledge that is patient-based. Don’t tramp on the DR’s too much, they work crappy hours too!


  4. Thanks a lot for this article. I’m 26 and I came upon it after typing “should I have been a nurse?” Into Google. Somehow it’s just become easy for me to rely on Google to answer all my major life questions. lol. But I have to say it did work this time.

    I read it and most of the comments, and judging from all the info, I can say that nursing certainly wasn’t my calling. Not because of the negative comments per se, but because working in high stress environments and maintaining emotional stability are two things I wouldn’t be able to do well. I imagine I’d take a lot of things personally and have a panic attack if the situation were really bad. In fact I remember I lost my job as a waitress because I got panicky and dropped a plate of fries and a turkey sandwich during a busy weekday lunch hour. lol.

    So I always ask myself if I should have been a nurse, because of the job stability and benefits it offers (and I’ve always related nursing to Carla, the cool sassy nurse from Scrubs. lol). And also because of all the ups and downs I am experiencing as a business owner now. But right now I realize I am closer to my true calling than if I had decided to go the nursing path.

    To all nurses, I say God bless you and we would be very lost without you! It takes a special breed of individual to be a nurse.


  5. This is such a great article, thanks for sharing! One thing I’d add to the list, have a sense of humor! Sometimes all you can do is laugh 🙂



  6. I am 20 and am transfering my pre-nursing credit from HCC in seattle to uiversity of washington this fall. but of the thing i read I will never as passionate as i was about nursing. by the way how many do brand new nurses make a year


  7. This list is accurate but not a total story. These list make nurses seem like honorable, respected, medical professionals. We are not. I am a nurse of 4 years and I would say that I have the skills of 70% of this list. Above all else I actually care about my patients and have a great amount of empathy.
    What this list doesn’t mention is that even though this list is what nurses are fed, what the current medical profession wants us to be subservient slaves. We are expected to put up with verbal abuse from our co-workers, managers, and other medical professionals without fighting back. We are expected to work like dogs and get paid like fast food workers. We pay out our asses for a degree that gets us crappy careers. All you have to do is look at the numbers. According to the 2009 A.N.A’s nation wide survey 1 in 5 nurses don’t make it five years in nursing before they quit. 47% of all licensed RNs are inactive. The part of care giving that causes people to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of others is severely abused in this career path by the majority of hospital administrators, other medical professionals, other nurses, families, and patients.
    I love caring for people and would love to have a job that allowed me to do that. I’ve had bad hospitals and not as bad hospitals, but until the significance of the role of nurse is recognized with improved working conditions and pay I will suggest to any one who asked to choose a different career because there are just easier, more satisfying ways to make about the same as a nurse (with in 5 bucks an hour) and still feel like you are helping others. (ie accountant with debt counseling, physical therapists; ultrasound tech, radiology tech, managing a restaurant; working on cars, massage therapy….really I could go on and on and on). Do not go into medicine unless you are going to be a top dog (ie doctor, hospital administrator, CEO) or something along the less responsible jobs (ie nurses’s aid, registration, unit secretary). Please do not take this to mean that those I delegate to (nurses’ aids, secretaries, etc) are not important and do not have jobs that are not stressful; just that the bulk of the responsibility of those jobs falls on the nurses’ shoulders. If something gets missed the aid might get fired; the nurse could end up going to court and losing their license.


  8. As a nurse, I can vouch that ours is indeed a hard profession–yet, to many of us, it is an incredibly rewarding profession that leads us to interactions with humanity and friendships that will touch us forever. Yes–there are horribly difficult days and nights where we feel exhausted and misused, to put it mildly. But this is where self care must play a role–self care during our shifts, self care in our private lives, and even possibly finding a different branch of nursing (as so many on here have suggested) when we reach that burnout point. Interesting


  9. My thought was posted before I was finished–what I was going on to say, is that, interestingly, my husband is in healthcare administration, so I hear both sides of the story. Not all administrators are the heartless jerks we think they are. Administrators are often placed in extremely difficult positions where they are forced to carry out hard decisions that they themselves didn’t even make. They oftentimes answer to a board or a corporation, who sets the budgets, standards, protocols, etc–and it is left to the managers/supervisors/administrators to implement these things. They sometimes don’t agree with the policies they are forced to implement, and while they work to change things (behind the scenes, where you can’t see them), they still are requred to enforce them. They are constantly forced to perform a juggling act between the needs of the providing staff, and the board who is breathing down their neck, threatening their job (or worse, close the facility doors) if they don’t produce “results.” As my husband says–“I have a job where everyone is angry with me, all day long, every day.” I will grant you, there are certainly knuckleheads and bona fide nasty people in administration–but I submit that this is not the majority. They really aren’t looking to trample on nurses (although it feels like anything but when you are forced to take yet another low census day). Healthcare is a demanding profession–for everyone, from the top down. We can choose to let this embitter us–or we can choose to hold on to the positive moments and the rewards, however small they are. It truly is a fight worth fighting.


  10. As I am reading each of the subsequent posts, I am unbelievably appaled!!! If many of you nurses hate what you do and how you are treated (and this is abudantly apparent) why don’t you just switch jobs/careers? I mean seriously…you aren’t staying in this field for the money are you??? Because you have made it pretty clear you don’t think you are paid enough!

    Instead of gripping about everything that is wrong…long hours without breaks, rude MDs/pts/family members, heavy pt loads with decreased staff, low pay and the list goes on and on for most of you it seems…TRY REMEMBERING WHY YOU GOT INTO THIS FIELD IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!Most likely it was because you wanted to HELP OTHERS…MAKE A DIFFERENCE or Have a CAREER that was REWARDING and always in DEMAND!!!
    Stop complaining about your jobs…instead…BE THANKFUL YOU HAVE ONE because there are many people who don’t. FIND YOUR NICHE! Your patients can tell when their nurse is stressed out, over-worked, and overall hates their job…DO NOT let your patients feel this way unless YOU yourself want a nurse like that and would be happy with that type of care! Nursing school was FAR from glorious, did you all honestly think by pasing boards you would have perfection?!
    I am sorry to sound so harsh but, stop and look at the situation…
    UNDERSTAFFING: who would want to work with a bunch of whiners and complainers…not me
    LOW PAY: over abundance of nurses in the field who “whine and complain” and do not have the courage to change careers to something else, so they become expendable and no reason to pay some handsomely to gripe about what they are being PAID to do.
    MD/PT/FAMILY RUDENESS: Well if you were my nurse…I would be rude too. (pts can tell when their nurse is unhappy)
    Those are just a few of my opinions…take it or leave it but UNDERSTAND THIS… Your nursing career was YOUR CHOICE! You can either learn to love it and deal positively with negative situations or you can continue in the same vicious circle expecting a new result of perfection (which will never happen). If you keep doing the same things expecting a different result, you will always be disappointed! Why do that to your pts and the others that you work with?

    I have been an RN for several years and I still go into work each and every day THANKFUL!!! Thankful that I have the ability to do God’s work and touch each life I come into contact with. Thankful that I have the knowledge, strength and compassion required to provide my patients with the holistic care they deserve. Thankful that I chose a career that rewards me in other ways beside monetary gain. Thankful that I am looked at by my pts as a trustworthy, caring and understanding person. But most of all…I am Thankful that I have not forgotten who I am, where I came from, or WHY I BECAME A NURSE!!!!


  11. I’m a nurse and I love being a nurse. The one thing I don’t like is with your on colleagues treats you like you don’t know anything, specially when they are ahead of you for how many years, I’m new in my area and it seems one of my colleagues wanted me out of the department because he is only eyeing on my mistakes, that what me hates my job as a nurse in my area… but I do love being a nurse and I understand want a patient needs because somehow we will be a patient too. How can I deal with this kind of persons?? It is really hard for me working with them. 🙁


  12. um, I’m doing a research project on Registered Nursing, because that’s what I want to major in when I go to college next year, and I am shocked to see all these bad comments about nursing in particular. I don’t think I want to become a nurse anymore, because of all the negativity. I want to go to a job that I love and make a career out of it, because there’s a huge difference between a job and a career. Maybe all of you guys that keep complaining should quit your JOB and start a CAREER doing something you love to do. But, hey, I’m a senior in high school. I don’t know anything about nursing.


  13. To all you bitter, old,g rumpy, rag, tag, worn-out old nurses! Guess what…
    Time to retire, there are more than enough of us who are willing to do this job becuase we love it. The only reason re do not enjoy our jobs is because we have to come and face your insistent and never ending compliants of how horrible things are and how they never change. Well they never change because you never change. You train new nurses to be jsut like you. You are rude anf dismissive to student nurses. You are NOT the rulers of the world, someday you will retire or die and no longer be able to nurse which ever comes first. I pray that it will come sooner than ladder. The people of this world deserve better than you at their bedside barely giving a damn!!! Quit scarring little child out of their dream jobs, nursing is an amazing field and everyday you come close to retirement it improves!!!! So future young nurse, student nurses, and patients rest assure; most of us love are jobs. With that love comes the compassion, empathy, and caring-nature you expect from a nurse!!!!


  14. After 30 years in the profession, I can understand all the comments posted here. I feel a great deal of sympathy and compassion for nurses who feel less than exhilarated by their day to day jobs…and I feel the same about anyone who isn’t satisfied in their job. It must suck to wake up unhappy before a 12 hour shift. Been there! Done that! When I find myself dreading the day, I change specialties immediately. I’ve also gone back to school (online BSN, thank you…and traditional MSN and PhD). I’m still doing bedside nursing in the ED. Yeah, it’s getting harder as I get older…but I’m finding that being the wise, old nurse on the unit has its perks!! Kids: if you’re thinking of becoming a nurse, go shadow a nurse first. And do it a couple of times. Be absolutely sure you are the type of person who can do it. We don’t need anymore nurses out here who have some fantasy about the career. The first several years of your nursing career will be spent realizing that everything you learned in school is basically the tip of the iceberg. And if you’re comfortable in the notion that it will be hard, you’re in the wrong direction. You should be VERY uncomfortable and respectful of the road ahead. The reward for your discomfort will come when you can BE a nurse and fully participate as an expert nurse. Hopefully, you will find mentors to get you through the rough spots. A tip for nursing students: identify mentor nurses early in your career…role model after the ones you like and admire best. And stick with them.


  15. I am a senior nursing student, working as a student nurse. I have gained a little bit of an idea of what nursing will be like through my job and through clinicals. I can only say this based off of what I have observed not what I do. I am not a nurse yet so I don’t know what it is like. What I consistently see is stress, but that’s involved in any job. I feel stressed as a student when I have six patients and feel like I don’t have enough time to get anything done. Not every day is that way but if you have two incontinent patients, one who wants to walk every fifteen minutes and two others who are full feeds and eat like they haven’t ate in months things get a lil dicey. Getting my actual work done that I am expected to do becomes a challenge when I have less help or am interrupted frequently. The patient who wants to talk about their best friend who happens to be a dog doesn’t understand how busy you are, and how are they supposed to. I understand their is stress in every occupation, and I knew that coming in. I like thinking of it as a job, even though I like to consider myself caring I do know I have to think of it that way, or I will become burned out. Not everyone is going to appreciate you, no matter how hard you work. Some people just can’t… I.e. The patient down the hall who as a narcissistic personality disorder and was abused when she was younger…it’s not physically possible for them, they have things going on that cannot be fixed by medicine. But that’s apart of the job. I am so impressed by the nurses I work with every day. Even though it is their job, I can see them putting apart of themselves into their work and patient
    care. Even though they know they will most likely get burnt. I can t request anything, but I guess I wonder if we should think about this, because I do all the time. Maybe we should leave the patient out of “it”. And by “it”, I mean the frustration and nasty comments. Like I said I know it’s hard, not from experience, but through observation. I think I feel bits of it while I am at work and am spat on but a patient who is out of their complete mind while trying to feed them. I have yet to defend my clinical judgment against doctors, fellow nurses and supervisors. I have yet to experience the degree of stress knowing you have 8 patients and you are not able to give them the nursing attention they deserve because you are giving to many things to do. What I really want to
    know from nurses who have had experience, what is it like out their as far as
    the hospital itself is concerned. As a business…. I know everyone is different, but am I setting myself up for a career that is going to not only put slot of stress on me and my body but one that will show no monetary gain or stability? I have considered this question within the last year (wish I would have before I began nursing school) . I am wondering now if I should just finish, become an RN and work as an RN to gain experience in healthcare and just go back and get my masters as a PA… It seems they have a good income and stable jobs, they can even work for multiple physicians. The hospital in some cases doesn’t even have to pay for them, it sounds beautiful… I guess it would be my dream job.. But I thought that was nursing. It would be more school and more money. Just trying to gain some insight I guess before I jump into another profession. With as much influence the business side of things is put onto our jobs I wonder how this will look even more in to the future, looks a little scary to me. Please feel free to reply to my comment with any form of opinion, tell me I’m wrong our right or actually give me your thoughts as to what you would do. I’m used to anything by now, I’m like a beaten dog.. Nothing like turning in a care plan to an instructor thinking it’s beautiful and immaculate to get it back with questions like how does the patient void…. When it is stated several times and it’s not even important to the patients plan of care..(example, voiding per urinal with amazing output, no CHF or underlying input or output issues) Or when you write the hemoglobin out five or more times explaining the value and why you believe it is the way it is to only be asked again, and corrected for not putting it down when they just tell you exactly what you just wrote is the correct answer.. I guess I have come to learn I will never be right.. Not even after I graduate haha so please comment


  16. I was an autoworker for a very long time before becoming a nurse and WOW you sound like factory rats himming and hawwing about how unfair life is and how they this and they that. Just retire, quit, go away and make room for, well, me! During clinical I heard nurses talking about their patients while checking facebook….i mean REALLY! I’m a factory rat and I was/am apalled. Anyway just love your patients and btw sir this was a great article that some unhappy old bird ruined


  17. Travel nurse companies are in cahoots with the hospitals. They are spies and informants, beware.
    They don’t care about the working conditions for nurses. Travel nurse companies are puppets on golden strings. If you confide in your recruiter, your recruiter will report all information to your nurse manager and the hospital administration. I have a suspicion that this “Bryan” is a plant.


  18. This was a very helpful site… intresting to hear all the negativity in the posts but it seems 50/50 witht he people who are happy with their decisions to become nurses on here… I am trying to decide if nursing could be my calling and was hoping that some of you could help! ….I am 23 and I do not have any college education. I worked at a grocery store for 6 years and quickly got into management by the time i was 18. I can manage my time well (most days) and im quick on my feet and to make important decisions. Blood and vomit dont really bother me, they can just be gross sometimes depending on the situation but not something that would stop me from getting the job done. I like people and im a natural caregiver but im not a big “chatter” id rather get my work done and move on (although i am not rude, i can carry a conversation and be polite to a patient). My biggest concern is that school scares me. I dont know if i will be able to handle the academic portion of becoming a nurse. You could say I have low confidence when it comes to book smarts but common sense and street smarts (as well as doing things ive been taught) I am considerably more confident in. Is it possible for anyone to learn about nursing and pass with flying colors as long as they study and make sure they understand the material? Am I nurse material???


  19. We all have good days and bad. The problem is coming to a public forum and posting your frustrations are not helping the image of nursing.
    If you are not happy with your position, seek another. You are not doing yourself or your patients any good. Take care of your mental as well as physical health.
    To those who have come to this page to research nursing as a career. It’s hard work, physically, mentally and emotionally. (as you can tell). It is one of the hardest yet most rewarding careers around. It’s not for the faint of heart. You will see life begin and end and all types of hurt and heartache inbetween.
    In my 20+ years of nursing there have been days where I have questioned my decision to enter into this profession. But those days are few and far between. Then there will come along a patient who will remind me why I do what I do.
    It is worth it.


  20. OH – BTW Mr Winter. . . To try to get the discussion back on track. Excellent article! I will agree having a sense of humor needs to be on the list.


  21. A sense of humor is a MUST-from sliding through whatever was deposited on the floor, the little naked lady streaking down the hall, my ladies who have thought their lipstick is lotion….Most days I love my job, and for sure my residents. Many of them I have had for years, and yes, I stand at their bedside and cry with the family when they die. We were always taught it was an honor to be someone’s comfort when they are dying, and an honor to care for the family also. I have been lucky to have some of the wonderful mentors I have had. Do I like some of the recent changes in nursing? Not all, some make me fear for the future. Do I like all the animosity between us? Nope, it kills the teamwork-especially when its between the RN’s and the LPN’s. It’s then when I remember my resident’s-THEY are who remind me of why I have spent the last 20 years doing what I do! And for all you younger nurses out there, just remember- don’t believe everything they tell you in school, (Utopia doesn’t exist), always be kind and considerate to your co-workers (a little honey goes a long way), be respectful of those with experience as there is always something new to learn, and never be afraid to dig in and get to work! (There is always plenty!) It can be a thankless job for sure, but to that one person whom you took a minute to hold a hand, get that extra drink, run down that doctor for pain meds, you mean the world!


  22. Hello everybody……………..
    i really feel glad after pursuing nursing field
    fortunately get more inspiration to inculcate in my self by learning this page abt the traits of a nurse
    i would like to state here that it is only a unique profession in which there is no need to worship god if u r serving care to needy patients from depth of ur heart along with considering patients as their family members…………… are u agree with my viewpoint……………… take care


  23. Well I agree with collean and dina everyone is entitled to an opinion and I dont buy into that calling crap. I’d like to see thoses with the ever so glorious “calling” work for free its a calling right yeah. Well I have a calling to be treated fairly for the work I do. These ladies are just stating the facts if u like your job great but there are thousands of people who have left the profession because of working conditions and nurses eating thier young just because they speak up. thats why change is slow, all thoses thinking about becomeing a nurse go for it. What these nurses are saying are the facts nursing shouldnt be sugar coated like thier is no bad side it is so prevalent thats not in other jobs, have u ever heard of horizontal violence people should know both sides. Its a good career for some but seems to be bad for most people. Studies also show most nurses are codependency issues and come from broken homes that should speak for itself. I’m a nurse 26yrs have seen and heard a lot.


  24. It is so important to have a passion for what you are doing. I knew this going in that it was going to be tough and that I probably would have to sacrifice a lot but I receive so much more in return. I get to hold patients hands through difficult things or I get to be there source of comfort during scary things. There are other professions that are just as tough that deal with the public such as paramedics, fire fighters, police officers. There are many professions that work several hours and are probably paid less than desirable. It’s those who have passion and are dedicated that should be in the field. Nobody likes a negative nancy as their nurse.


  25. You guys … have given me a headache… more confused. You need to be confident in yourself and know who you when pursuing any career.


  26. Everyone, let’s keep it real. No matter what profession you are in, you ALWAYS feel unappreciated and undercompensated. That’s just how the world works. I have just started my education in the nursing field, its tough…but not impossible. I have worked in a retail management position for the past 7 years, 50 hours per week, running around on my feet all day, hearing people whining and complaining all day about nonsense, and having to just shut up, smile, and agree with them while making just a smidge over minimum wage. It’s great acting experience! I would much rather be spending my time and energy on people that desperately need and DESERVE my help and attention. If you can’t handle the workload, choose a different career. You don’t deserve it, but the patients do.


  27. I stumbled onto this site trying to make up my mind whether nursing is a career line for me. I consider sites like this a must-read (another training ground) for every nurse, indeed every worker. Every post up there, whether praising or castigating the nursing profession, has its merit. No field of work is a play ground. I haven’t come across anyone who comes home from work reeling with happiness from the day’s experience at work. HARDLY, at least. Job satisfaction comes with a mixture of your general attitude to life, your relationship with colleagues, your working environment and much more. Apart from your pay cheque (which you are entitled to) and ‘THANK YOU’ notes from patients and family (which you are not necessarily entitled to), nursing rewards you in many other ways – tasking your full wit and developing all aspects of your life. Nursing is a NOBLE profession. Savour the benefits and learn from the drawbacks.


  28. Be realistic with the situation, and learn how to compromise. Another good advice is don’t put yourself through martyrdom, and suffering. In other words, don’t sacrifice who you are, yet be flexible enough to listen and adapt. Do listen to your needs, and if you feel that the place that you are is chipping away at your personal well-being and the belief that you are making a change, move to another area. By not listening to your own internal signals, not only will you burn-out yourself, you will also burn-out your patients, colleagues, friends and family. Balance is key. Good luck to all nurses, the experienced and the new. Getting burned-out is not weakness, but it is weakness if you stay there. Also you can catch more flies with honey then with vinegar.


  29. I was really looking forward to becoming a registered nurse and saving patients and providing the care that they despirately need. Both my parents are doctors and I wanted a career in the healthcare field which has job security and balance of life. I thought nursing was that career. But after reading so much on forums about nurses who hate their jobs I have realized that its not the same profession it used to be. Because of budget restraints and strict hippa laws nurses are basically puppets who are trained to do what they are told. All hospitals and clinics care about is making money, giving you the max load you can possibly handle. You will constantly get bashed about anything and everything you do from the hospital administrator to the physician on the floor. Nursing used to be a golden career and a career where patient care was the top priority. Not anymore, nurses are puppets and hospital adminstrators are the ones who pull the strings and make you work like a dog for every penny that you earn.


  30. “its not the same profession it used to be….Nursing used to be a golden career and a career where patient care was the top priority. ”
    Hah–*NOT!* I quit nursing in 1980 along with millions of other women, and we had ALL the same complaints that the previous posters are voicing! The details have changed but the nature of the unhappiness, and its level, has apparently not changed.
    I don’t know when this Golden Age of nursing was. It was lousy when my own mom was a nurse, in the early 50s. Same overwork. Same understaffing. Same complaints and poor treatment by patients (who feel sick and sad and afraid and angry–the bitter sadness of being sick has not changed!). Same management expectation that you will be happy to be a self-sacrificing handmaiden. Vastly worse relations with (the 99% male) doctors, though. Docs were openly contemptuous of nurses then, freely insulting us, mocking us, and yelling at us, in front of patients. It was a point of masculine pride. At least nurses aren’t forced anymore to drop everything and follow Dr. God around on rounds, taking dictation, following him from room to room pushing a metal cart full of pt charts.
    I’ve been in the corporate world since 1980 and learned this: Those who pay the checks call the tune. Your job is not, as you were mistakenly told in school, to do the best work you can do. Your job is to do the least amount of work that is possible and still sell the product. This is how money is made. If you are lucky, you are in a business where the purchasing customer demands great work. If the purchasing customer does not care or is powerless to demand it (that would be the avg. hospital/clinic patient), then the business managers will cut corners as far back as they safely can to maximize quarterly profits.
    Happy nurses, have some compassion. A lot of people are stuck by geography and finances in working situations where the corporate managers are able and willing to deceive themselves that they are delivering good healthcare while cutting corners. It’s miserable.
    Stuck nurses, realize that you did not create this situation. It is much bigger than you. You are doing the best that you can. You are not really free to tell the truth to the patients, because they don’t need the extra pain. IF you can’t quit or change positions, try not to blame yourselves.


  31. I’m a bitter nurse here. I have not even been in nursing for a full 3 years yet. I have primarily worked med surg, a little PRN in ICU, and will soon orient to an ER. I think there are 2 things which mainly are causing my bitterness.
    1.) It is impossible to be excelent at nursing (med surg, at least).
    Nurses are expected to get high patient satifaction scores for the hospital, follow all core measures, make hourly roundings, prevent falls, prevent pressure sores, pass meds, know all the details of your patient’s condition, make time for patient safety huddles, ect. To do all of these things for 7 patient’s of the course of 12 hours means you have only 1 hour and 48 minutes per patient and that includes charting. Something is going to get neglected.
    2.) Overtime makes you burn out faster.
    I wish I didn’t have to work so many hours, but I have worked 48-60 hours a week my whole nursing career. At first it was because if I didn’t schedule an extra shift there was a good chance of being on call and having a SHORT check. I couldn’t afford that. I currently work full time days in med surg at one hospital (because appearently I wasn’t nice to my family when I worked nights, so they won’t let me go back full time) and I work PRN (usually once a week) nights in ICU at another hospital. Working in 2 different areas is limiting the burn out for now because it gives more variety. I tried to get a job in something non-med surg, but they only wanted me for med surg because I have experiance. My ICU experiance is only a small hospital, so I don’t feel like it compares to the ICU at the larger hospital where I work med surg.

    Somedays I hate nursing because I feel like I never do a good job. Somedays I feel like I actually make a difference, and then I love it. My husband is in school full time right now, learning about IT work which he actually loves. I want to give him the opportunity to excel in that, so currently there is no slowing down for the next year and a half. But I can do anything for a year, right? My real question is once that year is over, what do I do? Do I keep persueing nursing? There are a lot of different fields of nursing, however I am so frustrated with not being able to be a nurse because I’m too busy doing paperwork that I am not sure I want to do it at all. I feel like I am a good nurse, but I think that paperwork permeates all nursing, and maybe the only way to get away from it is to do something else. I keep flipping back and forth between leaving nursing or fighting for something better in nursing. I am just not sure it is a fight that can be won.

    To address some of the other bitter complaints:
    The doctors at my small hospital are jerks and I thought that was just the way it would be, but at my larger hospital they are very nice and respectful, mostly. It really confused me when I first started working there. I think it depends on what admin allows and how desperate the hospital is for doctors.

    This is the only “real” (non minimum wage job) I have every had, but I didn’t think the pay was bad. It was why a picked nursing in high school. It was the quickest degree I could get at my local community college that would give me the financial stability I needed to take care of a family if I had too. I started at $21/h at the small hospital $25.5/h at the bigger one and make a nice $40/h now at the small hospital since I’m PRN (this is in Texas).


  32. Career: 1st 10 years – consulting (traveling all over the place working with numerous clients, 10-20:1 ratio – no life – 70-80hr workweek), 2nd 10 years – Wall St. (working all hours, numerous clients 15-30:1 ratio – no life – 75-90hr workweek); in both jobs made $125k+/yr

    Last 10 years? Nursing (work 3 12s – we call that “full-time”), 2:1 patient ratio (ICU), full life w/4 days off each week, making $130k+ in California.

    I’ve worked in dozens of jobs, am in my 50s, and nursing is the easiest work for the most money I’ve ever made. Most of the bitter nurses I’ve seen have only been in nursing. No other profession. They just don’t realize how good they have it.

    Happily off to my last “12” of the week and then off to Vegas baby!

    – Joe


  33. I have been in nursing for 33 years… Ive been the stressed out nurse at the bedside and I have also been the nurse who contributes positive changes for better patient outcomes. Administration is KEY for providing tools for nurses to excel. Leadership in my opinion is what drives team members to do and be their best.. this trickles down upon the patient population. Every nurse needs to know she is VALUED and praised for her work. I am a nurse administrator and furthering my education. education is only one piece… A license without compassion is an incomplete tool… Administrators need to be tested for personality traits that BUILD TEAM..Not authoritarian despots with zero compassion on power trips. Leadership takes much more than experience and education .. it takes the personality of a loving lion who protects not just patience but AWESOME STAFF !


  34. Very encouraging I love nursing and treat every patient as though am the one on that bed .our reward for what we do is waiting for us somewhere and can Never ne équivalent to any money whatsoever


  35. I have read some of the comments. Been a RN for 30+years thankful for some it regret the last 10 years of it now in a clinic they treat me as if I am idiot the 1 yr new graduates are promtoed to managers immediately and they stick the 50 something yr olds in a corner to answer phones then ride them all day (unless you brown noise everyone in admin) or if you happen to know more than the new nurses or god forbid the managers then they take the policies you wrote and put there names on them. Thankless wish I could redo my life. Also look at other professions you get phenominal raises but nurses nope they plateu at about 50-70 if your lucky


  36. I am a student in the 11th grade completing an assignment for my leadership class. I was to write down a few skills/traits necessary to become a successful nurse. I read some of the comments and… Wow. It really sounds like some of you need a career change. Or maybe even a new personality. I’m not judging the “experienced” nurses here or anything. Yeah, I understand the work gets difficult and stressful, and most of the time you may or may not receive the respect that you usually expect, but who says you should let that get in the way? Why are some of you acting as if you didn’t know that being a nurse would involve this? Surely if you wanted to become a nurse you would’ve known that the career would be tough in the first place. But some of you are complaining as if you had no idea it’d be like this. Just because it frustrates you doesn’t mean you should allow that get in the way of your career. Some of you really need a sense of humor as well. Find your way out of that old lady grumpyness! Make the best of your career! Have your tough, harsh days but don’t forget your positive, rewarding days as well! I’ve been a patient in several hospitals multiple times due to kidney problems, and let me tell you, I always forgot about my nervousness in the hospital because I had many positive, dedicated nurses. They had that original type of personality that pushed them away from being that “typical” kind of nurse. That’s what really makes them special. Although quite a few times I’ve had very grumpy nurses who were always in a hurry and pretended to care when they never really do. It actually made me feel pretty bad because I felt like nobody in the hospital actually really cared about how my condition was making me feel. I understand there is a lot of work involved but isn’t actually “caring” for the patient a huge part of nursing? It kinda seems to me as if “caring” for the patient is giving them whatever crap they need so they could get the hell out of the hospital already because you have a crapload of work to do. I mean that’s how it felt for me as a patient. Seeing this made me want to become a great, positive nurse myself because I’ve noticed many, many times where patients don’t usually feel like they actually being “cared” for. Once again, I’m not saying nursing is all happiness and perfection, I’m saying push yourself through it, don’t let the negative parts of the career bring you down. Simply saying “Oh nursing is stressful. It’s not what you think” is enough to bring you all down and stop you from continuing to become amazing and positive nurses. Remember you were the one who chose this career. You knew what it would bring and you SHOULD HAVE been expecting it. But you know, whatever, you’re “experienced” so you have the right to be as grumpy as you feel. Just keep on telling yourself that. I’m sure your career will work out just lovely for you


  37. Did you forget to make numer 11? It should read as such:
    “Be everyone’s whipping boy and be everything for everybody. No complaining ladies.”

    The expectations of nursing are unrealistic and in humane. And, as long as there exists a dollar to be made in healthcare anywhere, it will never be realistic or humane.

    Anyone who is considering nursing?


  38. Melanie,
    You have no right to tell nurses who or how to be unless you have walked in their shoes. Your message just struck me like a cat who had been stroked the wrong way! You have NO idea what nursing is. A lot of nurses were taught prior to computers and all of the BS paperwork that I am sure that your leadership class is filling you in on. When they went to school, their job was to take care of patients and THAT is what they signed up for. They did not sign up to do bucket loads of random paperwork to keep sue happy patients and lawyers at bay. Now, they cannot find the time to take care of the patient because their every 5 minute or 15 minute or hourly charting has to be taken care of. YES, I said EVERY 5 MINUTE charting. Please, by all means, go get your nursing, and come back here one year to the day that you finish to see how many nurses you can relate to. Maybe you will need a career change or a sense of humor…..actually, I will give you 3 months from the day that you are released from your mandatory orientation period-if you make it that long……..


  39. I have been a Nurse for 26 years since I was 22 years old. One most important trait is always being nice to your patients. You have to know what you are doing and you have to be nice too. If you cannot be nice along with being competent, it is time to hang up your stethoscope.


  40. Before deciding on entering nursing school, beware. Make sure it’s something you really want to do from somewhere deep in your heart, and not for any superficial reason like stable job, money, etc…That’s what I did and I didn’t make it through nursing school. They kicked me out for trying to turn my last paper in late, which was due the same day of my final exam. My teacher also wanted to fail before that situation even happened, because she said I didn’t have a “sense of urgency.” I didn’t know what that meant, but I guess it’s something to do with time management, or trying to get things done ahead of time?? I still don’t quite understand the concept. I realized that I am a slow-paced person naturally, ever since my 2nd grade report card with my teacher telling me to work faster. I am very detailed and meticulous, but slow indeed like the turtle. In a way, I am glad that I failed nursing school. I was miserable the whole way through and my passion lies in learning languages and cultures. I loved the patient contact, but not so much the job…Also don’t underestimate a nurse’s intelligence, because they need to be very smart (I know because I was in school). I don’t understand why the doctors yell at nurses, but I did see it happen once during my clinical. My classmates were really sad to see me fail, calling me the kindest and most caring person they ever met, but I guess my personality in the end just didn’t suit nursing, and that is what all my teachers and counselors told me. My mom tells me that I am too compassionate…whatever that means. I don’t like this article because I DO have all the traits that it listed, or at least most of them, and nursing school ended up as a big disaster for me. Please don’t make the same mistake as I did…Nursing is DIFFICULT, and if you even think about turning in a paper late, they will fail you. If they don’t like your type of personality, they will fail you, and it doesn’t matter what your theory grade is. I think this is a sad fact of life and a hidden part of the nursing education programs that is not “advertised.” Then with the F that they gave me for failing clinical, my GPA wasn’t high enough for the school to enter into their slower paced traditional program. Basically I was kicked out of the entire nursing college for just one late paper. But I understand the reason why. I’m not blaming them. I understand that being late can make the difference between life and death, and yeah, nursing probably does not suit me. I will never know for sure, but that is what all the teachers and counselors told me, even though they barely know me, and only say it based off of my clinical evaluation. Oh well. The past is in the past. Goodbye nursing school. And my idea of a nurse completely changed as well.


  41. I really love to be a nurse and ve applied for it. Am waiting to be called for an interview,what are some likely questions ?


  42. I have been in nursing for almost 14 years, and I am so in love with my profession , I enjoy my job just like the first day, no joke, I really do!! I am so passionate about my job that I can’t picture myself doing something different. Yes, it is true about the long hours and possibly true the petty stuff some ppl complain about it, but as somebody mentioned we knew what we’re getting into it. I can only say that all the satisfaction we obtain at the professional and personal level highly compensate for everything. The call for this profession have to come from your heart not from the pay check. And, please, to every nurse out there that is bitter and unhappy about his/her job, please move on so you will be happy and leave your place to somebody who really have the desire to honor the principles of nursing.


  43. I’ve been a nurse for 18 years and there’s good days and bad days. First of all, it’s important to keep a positive attitude even on the bad days. It not only makes the bad situations better, but it also increases better chances for support from other nurses as well. I always start off with prayer in the morning with devotion. I try to wake up with a positive attitude and it makes a huge difference in the day. If there are negative nurses or staff, pray for them, and give them a hug just to show you care. Choose to be a role model for everyone and see if that doesn’t change the whole atmosphere for everyone:)


  44. What a great discussion. Never would have expected a naïve depiction of the ten traits of nursing to unleash such passionate and provocative posts.
    I am a nurse for 5 years and have worked positions in medsurg, ER and ICU. I’m proud to be a nurse. And yes, I have had good days and much less fortunate days.
    I believe the qualities presented by Mr. Winter are quite safe and predictable. What the author doesn’t tell you about is presented candidly in the comments section by real nurses.
    Sure, some of us may have chosen this career path for altruistic reasons, others as an avenue to advanced opportunity, but none of us chose this profession to become an object of derision or face conflicts regarding profits before patients. I’ve been in nasty situations, and I’ve been in uplifting ones. I have found though, that life as a nurse becomes a lot easier with experience.
    For those considering becoming a nurse, realize that it will come with inherent risks. Just always be prepared, pay attention and be the best you can be. The truth is, beginning a career in nursing can be like treading water for the first time.


  45. I have to agree with (the first reply down to this article). I have always been interested in the medical field and I truly feel what it has what it takes to be a nurse. Other than those two things that bother her as well. The high stress and emotional stability are the two traits that I would also lack. I am very sympathetic to people and their needs and I like to also take care of people. I have a lot of energy too. Therefore, I do have some of the traits that most people likely do not have to be a nurse in a lot of cases, but that just isn’t enough. I also hate drama at work. If it is worse than where I work now (which seems impossible), NOWAY! I do better working alone as I focus better and get confused when there is a lot of confusion and negativity going on around me. With that being said, I could probably adjust to it in time. However, I’m not certain about this and would not want to put myself through college and decide that I hated my job due to people making others lives miserable and unbearable to work with. That is not the environment that I would want to work in. Perhaps another type of occupation in the medical field would work out better for me. I am thankful for all of those hard working nurses out there who have kept me calm during surgeries/hospital stays. They were always nice and took good care of me. Some of them were certainly more stressed than others though. I could definitely see this by laying in a hospital bed recovering. Of course, when asked, they all claimed to love their jobs 😉


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