13 Qualities of a Good Nurse

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Nurse putting her hand on patient's shoulder

If you’re exploring becoming a nurse, you probably already have some qualities of a great nurse, like caring about others and wanting to make a difference. If you already have a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field or 60 college credits, an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, like the one at University of St. Thomas Houston, may be an ideal fit for you. Our students are compassionate, flexible and empathetic, and our program is dedicated to empowering them to strengthen the qualities they already have and incorporate them into their nursing career.

So, what are some other nurse personality traits? Below, we list 13 qualities of a good nurse so you can see what it takes to excel in this rewarding profession.

1. Ethical

Nursing has been rated as the most trusted profession for the past 20 years, according to a poll by Gallup. The poll indicates that nurses continue to be perceived as the most honest and ethical professionals. That title is well deserved. Nurses need to be reliable, trustworthy and have integrity. After all, they are charged with providing life-changing care to patients. They also need to make ethical decisions.

2. Knowledgeable

Nurses must possess extensive knowledge to care effectively for their patients. Students who graduate from the St. Thomas ABSN program, also known as ABSN@UST, enter the field knowledgeable about human anatomy, microbiology and pathophysiology.

nurse in red scrubs wearing medical mask

They are also given the skills it takes to be a capable nurse and have experience practicing these skills in real-world situations.

3. Communicative

Nurses communicate with a multitude of people during their day-to-day duties. Having the ability to effectively communicate everything—from patient statuses to educational information to medication instructions—is vital to your success as a nurse.

4. Compassionate

As a nurse, you’ll treat patients experiencing a variety of challenging situations. When your patients are upset or scared, compassion will be a key element in making them feel safe and cared for. If you’re interacting with a patient’s family, you’ll also need to be compassionate in order to form trusting relationships, build credibility and offer comfort.

5. Empathetic

Empathy is all about putting yourself in your patient’s shoes. If you were about to head into a surgery, it would comfort you to understand what to expect and how to care for yourself afterward. If you were taking a new medication, you’d want someone to make you aware of how it will affect your body. If you were suffering from an injury or illness, you’d want to be taken seriously and listened to.

Treating your patients with kindness and empathy is vital to providing quality care. Empathy also comes into play if a patient lashes out because they are frustrated or scared. Putting yourself in their shoes before responding can help you de-escalate the situation and find a solution.

6. Flexible

Nursing is a job that will keep you on your toes—and certainly on your feet! Nurses have to respond to urgent situations, and they’re responsible for wearing many different hats. Nursing is often unpredictable, and situations can change quickly. Additionally, nurses also need to be flexible with their schedules so that they can respond to their employer’s changing needs.

7. Attentive to Detail

From keeping accurate medical records to observing a patient’s behavior, nurses must be detail-oriented. Just as communication is an important trait, it’s just as important that the information being communicated is correct. That’s where attention to detail comes in.

University of St. Thomas Houston nursing student working with simulation manikin

8. Creative with Problem-Solving

Nursing requires strong analytical and problem-solving skills. Specifically, critical-thinking skills are necessary to put together pieces of information that may seem unrelated (such as medications for different conditions) and draw rational conclusions. Nurses may have to think quickly under pressure to troubleshoot patients’ needs. Those who work in triage are especially good at critical thinking. They must interpret diagnostic data to determine the next course of action in life-or-death situations.

9. Able to Advocate for Patients

As a nurse, you may find yourself in situations where you need to advocate for your patients. This may be in a family situation, domestic situation or helping a patient to advocate for themselves or navigate the medical system. Nurses may even need to advocate for themselves when vying for a promotion or new position.

10. Assertive

UST nursing students studying at table with binders

It’s important to know when to be assertive as a nurse and how to do it effectively, without being aggressive. For example, you may have to be assertive to ensure a patient follows instructions or a visitor observes visiting hours. A great nurse will be kind but also comfortable setting boundaries and being firm when necessary.

11. Goal Oriented

Successful nurses with BSN degrees know what they want out of their career! Having short-term and long-term goals as a nurse is a great way to stay on track. Whether those goals involve advancing your career, earning new certifications or specializations or just stepping out of your comfort zone as a nurse, having those goals in mind will help you be the best nurse you can be.

12. Motivated to Be a Self-Starter

Setting yourself up for success as a nurse means being ready and eager to do a great job. Completing necessary tasks without being asked, staying on top of your schedule and actively seeking out professional development opportunities are all ways to be a self-starter.

13. Physically Capable

Nursing is a physically demanding job. You’ll need to be able to work long shifts, lift patients up when needed and move equipment. You’ll also need to be able to report to different locations quickly.

Make a Bold Move for Your Future

If you have the qualities we listed above, now’s the time to pursue your dream of becoming a nurse.

ABSN student in lab

Find out if you’re a good fit for the ASBN@UST by contacting one of our dedicated admissions advisors, who will help you take the next steps toward earning a BSN. Seats are available now!