There are only a few careers that can truly be called rewarding, and nursing is one of them. You are changing people’s lives for the better, whether that’s because you can help them recover from an illness or injury or because you can be there to comfort them in their final moments. Plus, you aren’t only going to be helping your patients; there are the families to consider, as well as your other colleagues. On top of that, you can even help yourself live a happier, healthier, altogether more accomplished life doing what you truly love and are good at. 

So, of course, it’s obvious that with all this in mind, many people feel that being a nurse is the right thing for them. It’s a career with clearly defined progression, with flexibility, with good rates of pay, and with the chance to make a real difference in the world. However, despite all these positive things, it’s crucial that you ensure you are the kind of person who would enjoy nursing and who can make the most of the opportunities available. Nursing is something that everyone can do because it is open to everyone (especially now there are online courses you can apply for), yet not everyone is going to have the qualities required to be a good nurse. Read on to find out what some of these qualities are, and then think hard about whether you have these qualities or whether nursing might not actually be the right thing for you to do. 


Empathy is perhaps the most important character trait a nurse can have. If it’s not the most important, it certainly ranks very highly on the list. Empathy means you can understand what other people are going through; you can easily put yourself in their situation and know how they are feeling and what they might be thinking. When you are able to understand what your patients are feeling, you will be in the ideal place to help them the most – you’ll know what to say to make them feel safe and comforted, and although medication and surgical procedures may still be needed, this kind of comfort is definitely a bit part of the healing process. 

When you can show that you are empathetic, your patients will be able to trust you more, and that leads them to also follow your advice and do what you need them to do in terms of their own health and helping you to do what you need to do for them. 

Communication Skills 

Communication is another very important quality that a nurse must-have. When you are a nurse, you are the link between the rest of your colleagues, patients and staff, patients and their families, doctors and the patients’ families, and so on. You are right in the middle of it all, and you need to be able to communicate clearly, precisely, and confidently to help everyone as much as you can. 

Your communication skills will get better over time, but even when you first start nursing, you must be able to get ideas across and ensure that others understand what it is you’re saying. A misunderstanding in the medical profession at any level can be dangerous; remember, you’re dealing with people’s health and even their very lives. 

Communication is crucial in this regard, but it also links to the idea of being empathetic, as we mentioned above. You can use your communication skills to help your patients understand more about what is going on and to feel more at ease. 

Critical Thinking 

Critical thinking is a hugely beneficial skill when you are a nurse. When you can think critically, you can take all the important bits of information and create a plan from them, making sure that everything is accounted for. To be able to do this in the right way, you will need to ask plenty of questions – and think carefully about the answers you’re given. 

This is particularly important during triage. Triaging is a task that nurses need to do before a patient can see a doctor. They must assess the situation quickly and think critically to determine the next course of action, whether that’s seeing a doctor, being prescribed medication, or anything else. Being able to think critically and take the right steps can be extremely useful. Not only will it ensure the patient gets the right care, but it can also save everyone a lot of time and stress. Not only will this particular skill help you in your day-to-day nursing career, but if you choose to enhance that career, it will certainly be of benefit when studying for your FNP online programs as well. 


Some people like their routines, and having to be flexible around their jobs is something that causes them a lot of discomfort – they might even feel stressed and anxious about it. If you feel like this and you need to know exactly what you’re doing at all times, nursing won’t work out for you – you’ll feel uncomfortable every day because when you are a nurse, it’s crucial you are versatile and flexible. Sometimes you’ll be helping patients, other times you’ll be writing notes, then there might be emergencies to take care of. It could even be that there are slow times too. The fact is, you’ll never know what one day is going to be like from the next. 

For some, this is the ideal working situation. It is the routine they dislike. If you can be versatile and can use your many skills for a variety of different things throughout the day, you will enjoy the work and thrive in this environment. If you can work shifts, changing from day to night, working weekends and different hours, then again, nursing could work out well for you. If you prefer to start each day at the same time and finish it at the same time and you prefer everything in between to be the same as well, no matter how much you want to help people, you may need to find an alternative to nursing. 

Physical Stamina 

Something that you might not have considered when thinking about what qualities a good nurse needs to have is physical stamina, but it’s actually a hugely important part of every nurse’s day. Unlike some jobs where you will be sitting in one place all day, nurses move around a lot – they will walk between patients, rooms, even different departments in the hospital. They will also carry medical equipment (or push a trolley), and they will need to move patients too; this might be turning them in bed, taking them in or out of bed, and taking them to different areas in the hospital, for example. On top of this, there is a physical labor involved in cleaning up the mess, making beds, giving medication, and so on. Nurses will be on the move all the time, and when you consider that this might be through the entirety of a twelve-hour shift, that’s a lot of physical exertion. Of course, you will have breaks, but even so, it’s an important element of nursing to consider. 

You don’t have to be completely physically fit and healthy to be a nurse, but you do need to have plenty of stamina. If you still want to help people but worry about the physical aspect of what you are doing, there will be options open to you, but this may require additional research to be sure of what you can do. 


The best nurses are the most assertive nurses. When you are assertive, you’ll feel confident about voicing your opinion, and you’ll be happier to put your ideas forward. This might even go on to help others who will feel confident themselves because of what you are doing. Being assertive is not the same as being ‘bossy’ or trying to shout over other people. There is a balance to be struck, and it’s important to understand how to be assertive without annoying other people and becoming disliked as a nurse. 

It’s crucial to remember that you might not be right just because you are being assertive, and sometimes you will need to change your mind when you see the alternative options. However, being able to put your point of view across is important nonetheless, and it’s good to be heard. In this way, you can establish yourself as a leader, another skill that can be of great benefit to you and your career. 


This article started with one of the most important nursing qualities, and it will end in the same way; nurses have to be reliable. Although there are some careers in which you can work alone, choose your own hours, and essentially do your own thing, nursing is not one of them. If you have to be somewhere at a certain time, that’s where you have to be. If you say you’re going to do something, you must do it. Working in the medical field means you’ll have many people relying on you to help them, whether that’s patients or your colleagues. It only works because everyone can be relied upon to do what is expected of them. 

Are you a reliable person? If so, you could make an excellent nurse. It’s important to be honest, and give yourself a true self-appraisal.