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What Are the Qualities of a Good Nurse?

4 min readJune, 08 2023

If you're considering a career in nursing and have wondered what the qualities of a good nurse are, you're probably already displaying some of these essential nursing characteristics. Whether you're entering the nursing field or are a seasoned nurse, taking the time to understand nursing strengths demonstrates insight and a desire for ongoing self-improvement.

You might assume those entering the nursing field must have the qualities of a good nurse, but that's not always the case. Some nurses pursue a career in this profession because it's lucrative and offers many growth opportunities. They then end up dissatisfied with their career choice or suffer from burnout when they realize they don't possess the characteristics needed to succeed in nursing.

What Makes a Good Nurse?

There are many ways to define a good nurse. In general, it means bringing your best qualities to work to promote positive patient outcomes and striving to strengthen the nursing profession. While working as an essential member of a health care team, you seek solutions to improve patient care and advocacy. And certain personality traits and characteristics of a nurse go a long way in helping you succeed in the nursing profession.

Essential Qualities of a Nurse

  • Communication skills: Excellent verbal and written communication skills are crucial areas of strength for nurses. Practicing active listening and being aware of nonverbal cues help you understand how communication approaches may differ. Clear communication and cultural awareness reduce miscommunication and medical errors and enable patients to make informed decisions about their care.
  • Empathy and compassion: Although these characteristics often go hand and hand and are both qualities of a good nurse, they aren't the same. Empathy allows you to have a patient-centered approach to caregiving by relating to what they're experiencing. Compassion fuels your desire to help ease the pain and suffering of others. These two skills contribute to inspiring trust in your patient relationships.
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving skills: Nurses often work autonomously under pressure and must make decisions using critical thinking to put their knowledge into practice. A solid analytical skill set lets you collect information, evaluate the facts, and develop a rational conclusion to improve patient outcomes.
  • Attention to detail: Mistakes in nursing can have severe consequences, and caring for multiple patients increases the risk of human error. That could cause you to miss changes in a patient's condition if you don't understand the importance of minor details. Excellent time management skills and the ability to balance competing priorities can help you hone this skill.
  • Integrity and advocacy: Core nursing strengths include a strong moral compass while providing care with integrity, and a strong focus on patient advocacy. Patients are often vulnerable and trust nurses to be honest and make decisions with their best interests in mind.
  • Willingness to learn: Health care is constantly changing, so you must be willing to continue to improve and expand upon your nursing qualifications and skills. Take advantage of education and in-services offered by your employer, review and implement evidence-based nursing practice, participate in nurse mentorship programsjoin nursing associations, and pursue continuing education. These are all effective ways to stay current in nursing practice and continue to thrive.

Other sought-after personality traits of a nurse include:

  • Being even-tempered, hardworking, and flexible
  • Displaying a sense of humor
  • Practicing self-care
  • Demonstrating leadership skills

How to Develop the Qualities of a Good Nurse

Nurse in face mask holding tablet helps patient in face mask

Reviewing the qualities of a good nurse and nurturing those virtues within your nursing practice can help you provide effective care that contributes to your professional growth.

If you want more clarification about the primary goals and values of the nursing profession, the American Nurses Association (ANA) Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements is an excellent resource regarding ethical principles.

Additional ways to nurture strong qualities include:

  • Working with a nurse mentor
  • Surrounding yourself with nurses who hold the qualities you wish to develop
  • Accept and learn from constructive criticism regarding your professional practice
  • Pursue continuing education
  • Work as a team with your peers to help strengthen the nursing profession
  • Practice how to identify and address issues affecting patient and staff safety

Would I Be a Good Nurse?

If you’re a student nurse or considering a career in nursing, understanding the desired characteristics of a nurse can help you determine how to be a good nurse. It also allows the seasoned nurse to assess their own nursing strengths and weaknesses. Health care organizations look for these traits when seeking quality nurses. Regardless of your level of experience, cultivate the positive qualities of a good nurse to get recognized by prospective employers.


Images sourced from Getty Images

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