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 ones 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. Also, one of the most important nursing habits to maintain is respecting patients’ privacy. 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! In fact, one of the reasons nursing candidates fail job interviews is being late and disorganized.

5. Be emotionally stable

This one may sound obvious or even straightforward, 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. Remember that you are not alone, and many nurses can relate to how you’re feeling.

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. This is especially true if you are a travel nurse, as you don’t always know where and when you’re next assignment may be.


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 judgment 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. Slacking off is one of the common reasons nurses get fired.

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!

If you’ve built up these qualities and are curious about other opportunities, consider travel nursing or other nursing positions across the country with us! Check out all of our nursing opportunities.

Ron Washburn


Ron Washburn

Ron runs our nursing division and has been with Soliant since its small beginnings in the early 90s. He’s an integral part of our organization, and not only hosts trainings for our groups, but manages company events and continues to run a desk of clients and candidates.

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  15. My daughter is an RN working on her 3rd year and also going bk to school to obtain her master’s as a FNP. She has work ER, Trauma, Pediatrics and is working as many areas in the field as possible. She is an amazing nurse who has received awards and many great reviews from the patients and families she has cared for. She has worked long hours so tired she thought she couldn’t make it another day but never once has complained about the care she so lovely administered to her patients. She treats them with love, respect, empathy and in such a Godly manner even praying with family when given the chance. She is going into home health care next week for day shift and to help ease the extreme fatigue from the extremely long work schedules.
    This was definitely her God given gift from childhood she knew what she wanted to become and she will be a wonderful Nurse Practioner and also hopes to teach other aspiring nurses someday. She volunteers every chance she can to work in other countries where immunizations are so needed such as Guatemala for dysentery. I am so proud of the profession she has choice she not only has the 10 needed talents but many others not even mentioned.


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