Being a nurse is widely considered to be one of the most fulfilling career paths you can follow. However, as you might expect, it’s a challenging profession, and there are lots of skills you need to succeed.

While you have plenty of time to develop these qualities, it’s a great help if you already have some of them, and practicing these skills can set you up nicely to enter into the nursing field.


Part of being a nurse is being able to understand people’s feelings. As a nurse you will meet people in some of the most stressful situations they will ever experience, so it’s important to be able to act accordingly.

It’s not easy to work in an emotionally charged setting, but possessing empathy can be a huge help. It takes experience to know what to say and do in every situation, but having an empathetic nature is a great place to start.


Working as a nurse will mean you will encounter people from all walks of life and you’ve got to be able to communicate effectively with all of them. From discussing cases with doctors, to caring for the youngest of babies, you need to be able to work out how to communicate with the people around you.

In addition, efficiency is a key part of the healthcare industry, and nurses play a huge part in this. Through strong communication, nurses help to keep hospitals running, and make a difference for their patients.

It’s a skill that you learn with time, and it will get easier, but it’s an essential part of what you do.


You never know what you’re going to see from day to day as a nurse. No two days look the same, and you need to deal with every single one of them with complete professionalism.

Nurses are the people the public turns to in their time of need; who offer care, support, and much more, and it’s important it’s done with a professional mannerism. In the serious situations you find yourself in every day as a nurse, it’s your training, hard work, and professionalism that gets you through, and it’s a point that can’t be underestimated.

Attention to Detail

Small details can make all the difference in nursing, and throughout your training you will develop your attention to detail.

You’re not just responsible for someone’s wellbeing as a nurse, you’re also there to make them feel as comfortable as possible, to support them emotionally, and to make the process easier for them, and the small details play a big part in this. The rewards for doing this well are immense, and can have a huge impact on the outcome of the patient’s treatment; but unfortunately, missing small details can have big consequences, so it’s an important area.


It’s no secret that you’ll work some tough shifts as a nurse. Working in such a high-paced, emotionally charged environment can certainly take it out of you, and to overcome this you will need stamina.

Again, you will develop this with time, and it might take some adjusting to in the early days. However, your patients need you to be working to the best of your abilities, whether it’s hour one or hour ten of your shift, and to do this effectively requires plenty of stamina.
We all know how hard nurses work, but sometimes we forget about the toughness it takes to keep coming back to work and thrive in these conditions day after day.


When you’re working in a challenging profession it’s important to remember to look after yourself. It’s easy to burn out in any job, but in such a challenging field as nursing, you need to be aware of your own health in order to avoid becoming overtired.

You spend your days looking after your patients, but when it’s all over and you go home for the day, you shouldn’t forget to look out for yourself. In particularly challenging times such as during the pandemic, nurses have to make sure they’re looking after their own physical and mental wellbeing just as they would their patients. Click here for more information and self-help advice.

It may not seem like the most important point on this list, but if you’re not looking after yourself, then you can’t hope to do the other bits well.

Switch Off

You’re going to have to deal with difficult experiences as a nurse. Depending on what field you go into, you might have to comfort bereaved parents, witness life-changing injuries, or deal with countless other challenging situations. This isn’t easy for anyone, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to go home and forget about what has happened at work.

You can’t have your work on your mind all day, every day, and you’ve got to be able to find time to switch off and relax. When you see such impactful events happening every day at work this can be very hard to do, but it’s important to find a way that works for you.

You want to try and feel fresh every time you walk in for a shift, and the only way you can do this is if you’ve had a chance to switch off from what happened yesterday.

Problem Solving

You will face lots of little challenges throughout the day, and you need the ability to think through these problems and come up with an answer. Problem solving is an essential skill that any employer looks for, and this is certainly true in nursing.

Sometimes you will find yourself in pressure situations where you need to think through a problem quickly and the better you are at this skill the easier it will be. Of course, this also comes with experience, and as you become more experienced, you will gain more responsibility and need to exercise this skill more often.

We often think of skills such as empathy when thinking about nursing, but this job definitely does require a well-rounded set of skills, and problem-solving features strongly in that.

Time Management

Time management is a skill you often hear talked about in conjunction with problem solving because it’s an essential part of getting tasks done. It’s no use coming up with the answer to a problem if you’ve started thinking about it two hours too late, so you’ve got to be able to manage your time effectively.

Nurses often carry very busy workloads, and they simply can’t get through their tasks unless they have the ability to schedule their day, prioritize, and make sure everything gets done. This requires you to take responsibility for your own schedule, and work out a system that allows you to achieve your objectives.

Always Learning

They say we’re always learning, and that’s certainly possible in nursing.

One of the wonderful features about this career is the possibility to take it as far as you wish. There are so many learning paths you can take, and so many career progressions to follow. What’s important is that you’re always looking to learn and take your skills to the next level.

You’ll learn a huge amount from your daily work, but you’ll also find wonderful opportunities to learn in the classroom by furthering your education. This can empower you take your career to new heights, and truly test your abilities.

Patient Advocacy

The people in your care are often in a very unfamiliar environment, and they can be scared. It’s part of your job to protect these people, and always push to ensure they receive the best care possible.

This isn’t just a commitment to one patient, but a commitment to making sure the system is providing the level of care that it needs to. At times, this might require you to speak up and express yourself, and it will require leadership.

Nurses are a vital part of patient advocacy in the healthcare system, and it’s important there are people there to protect this.

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is a skill you’ll hear talked about a lot in universities. However, it’s also a quality that employers look for, and being able to think critically is certainly important for nursing.

You will be presented with a lot of information as a nurse, and you need to be able to think through each piece and make your own judgements. This ability to think critically about what you are being told allows you to make more informed decisions and ensure you’re working from accurate information.

We all do this on a daily basis, but as a nurse, you will learn to fine-tune this skill and use it to work more efficiently and effectively.


There are lots of opportunities to rise into a leadership position as a nurse. However, no matter what position you start out in, leadership is an important quality that can help you do the best possible job.

When you work in healthcare you work as part of a team, and sometimes that team is going to look to you to show leadership. It’s a trait that you can develop with experience, but it’s a great quality to have if you have that ability to lead and bring people with you.

Leadership will help you throughout your career and allow you to expand your career prospects.