Many people will choose a career in nursing because they feel called to help others in need. Typically, they are compassionate, yet also resilient, individuals who desire to make an impact in some shape or form. The nursing field provides an array of essential and meaningful career opportunities for those who are ready to take the plunge—for those who are willing to put in the hard work to improve patient health. Yet right now, you may find yourself still on the edge, wondering, “Do I have what it takes?”
You may be asking “Is nursing for me?” because you already know what it takes to become a nurse. While nursing often involves saving lives and comforting patients, there is a lot more to the role. In addition to bedside care, the nursing job description also requires you to be a teacher, an advocate, and to make critical decisions right on your feet. As a nurse, you can expect to have both happy and difficult conversations. You can expect to have ground-breaking days, as well as days that just involve the more nitty-gritty work. A nursing career is not always easy, but one thing is for sure—it is always rewarding.
“As a nurse, we have the opportunity to heal the heart, mind, soul and body of our patients, their families and ourselves. They may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
If you are considering a nursing career, rest assured that there are steps you can take to prepare you for the field. Registered nurses (RNs) must hold an associate or bachelor’s degree, which allows them to acquire the knowledge, skills, and experience needed to be a great nurse. And as many nurses will tell you, the journey is well worth it.
Is Nursing for You? – Find out!
Below we’ve compiled some of the top traits of registered nurses (RNs) today. Some of these qualities are inherent and come from the heart. Some can be learned in nursing school or through on-the-job experience. To find out if nursing is right for you, you may use this list as a guide. However, if you are here and have a passion for helping others, we have a feeling you’re already in the right place.
- Compassion and Empathy
Showing kindness and concern for others is an important part of the nursing role. These traits are essential for developing relationships with patients. Nurses who demonstrate understanding and consideration for what patients are going through, are typically better able to engage and connect with those they are treating. This can promote compliance, satisfaction, and even healing among patients.
- Critical-Thinking Skills
As noted above, nurses must make decisions on their feet. Sometimes, these decisions can be a matter of life or death. Nurses must be able to evaluate the symptoms and experiences of their patients, combined with any lab results, and decide on the best course of action. Of course, nurses often collaborate with physicians and other medical professionals to determine the proper treatments. However, it is well-known that nurses are given great autonomy in their roles. Which brings us to…
- Confidence and Leadership Skills
No matter what scenario they are in, nurses must demonstrate confidence in their decisions and their actions. This quality helps patients establish trust in their care providers. Even if you do not know an answer (and it’s okay if you don’t!), be confident enough to admit that you don’t know, but that you will do your best to find the answer. Confidence and leadership skills can be earned over time, as you gain more experience with different patients, conditions, and treatment plans.
- Communication and Listening Skills
From day one, communication and listening skills are essential nursing skills to possess. Nurses must be able to listen to patients’ situations and needs. This will help them provide accurate evaluations. In addition, nurses must also be able to communicate with their patients – clearly explaining conditions, procedures, and how to manage treatment at home. Nurses will also find themselves communicating with patients’ family members, and with other medical staff members, on a daily basis.
- Observant and Detail-Oriented
Nurses must be observant to every detail. This means recording every symptom, no matter how minor it may sound. It means noting down every behavior or potential indicator of an illness or injury. It means monitoring every dosage, and how much medication is given, to all their patients. These seemingly little details can all add up to being a great nurse.
- A Willingness to Learn
It is often said that nursing is a career of lifelong learning. After all, no day is the same for a registered nurse! Nurses are always encountering new cases, new conditions, new research, and new technologies. This is what makes the nursing profession so exciting. Of course, these evolutions and advancements also mean that nurses must always be ready to learn. Staying up-to-date on the latest research and technology in healthcare will help you stay on top of your A game.
The ability to adapt is one of the greatest skills a nurse can have. As noted above, the healthcare field is constantly evolving. In addition to technology evolutions, we also see laws, policies, and workflows change all the time. Not only this, but patient conditions are constantly changing – and quickly! What will you do when a new symptom arises? What will you do when the test results come back inconclusive? Nurses who are flexible to change, and who can think quickly in the face of it, will thrive in their roles.
There is a well-known quote in the nursing field: “Nurses are patient people.” Yes, nurses work directly with patients who are sick and injured. At the same time, however, nurses are also patient with those they are treating. Sometimes, you will have a patient who refuses to take their medication. You may have a patient (or family member) who is angry or frustrated at their situation. You may have patients with mental health conditions, or disabilities, who require more care and attention. This is where patience, combined with compassion, comes into play.
- Emotional and Physical Endurance
Finally, nurses must be able to stand up to the daily demands of being a nurse. On one hand, this means being able to spend much of your shift on your feet (hello, compression socks!). It also means having the emotional strength to cope with the more difficult days, which might involve helping patients in critical conditions.
Nursing may not be the right fit for everyone. However, if you feel in your heart that you are meant to help others, and if you have the emotional and physical strength to handle the challenges of the job (including a stomach for blood and needles!), then rest assured that nursing is a great field for you. Many of the other skills – the communication, the leadership, the technical know-how – can all be acquired along the way. Through classroom and clinical experiences, your nursing program will ensure you are fully-readied to practice as a nurse before you hit the hospital floor.
Is nursing right for you? If so, do not hesitate to get started in this career. Contact Goodwin University to learn more about our available nursing degree programs, or to find out why we’re a leading nursing school in CT.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.