Personality Traits
that every good nurse should have

I have talked to so many people that wonder if they have the right personality traits to be a good nurse. After being in this profession for over a decade now(!), I believe there are 3 big qualities present in the all the excellent nurses I have worked with:

  • Compassion
  • Patience
  • Confidence (in the knowledge you possess)

Nurses need compassion in order  to empathize with their patients. It is impossible to fully  understand exactly how every patient is feeling all the time, but you must appreciate they are having a difficult time and that they need someone to care. If you are unable to be caring and simply be there for someone, you should probably not try to be a nurse. This is just common sense. In particular, hospice nurses and ICU nurses should expect to see patients in the hardest times of their lives.

Patience is a nursing quality that seems obvious, but any nurse will tell you it is one that can be hard to keep on long days. Not only will you need patience with your patients, but also with co-workers, physicians, and family members. When you have been at work eleven hours and the eighth family member from the same patient comes and ask you the same question AGAIN, patience will ABSOLUTELY be a virtue. For obvious reasons a pediatric nurse will need a lot of patience, but this personality trait is really required for any kind of healthcare provider.

While having the other personality traits are important to becoming a nurse, having confidence in yourself and your knowledge is also key. Patients are usually scared. They are often in a situation they don’t understand and you will be the professional that is at the bedside the most often to help them. Your expertise is invaluable. When they ask you a question about their condition, you should never start with "well, um, I think it is because…". Confidence means being aware of what you do know AND when you need to consult others. Patients will appreciate your candor and therefore trust you more when you do have the answers to their questions. You patients need you to be their rock in all this. Making sure you get the proper nurse education will help you gain confidence.

In addition to the three personality traits EVERY good nurse should possess. There are some traits that are specific to different types of nurses.

    For example:
  • Travel Nurses should be flexible since they will often be put in a different situation from day to day (even more than non-travel nurses)
  • Nurse Anesthetists should be able to remain calm under pressure and think quick on their feet since they are the ones watching how stable a patient is during surgery
  • Neonatal nurses should be able to anticipate the needs of the parents of their patients as these family members in particular will feel especially helpless.

So you can see there is a place for every personality type within nursing!

In addition nurses should also possess certain skills. Click here for my top 3 list of nursing skills you can start working on today if you have the personality traits listed above. 

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