5 Characteristics Every Nurse Should Have
- Emotional Resilience
- Scientific Passion
- Physically Fit
What characteristics make a great nurse? With a constantly evolving healthcare field, the huge variety of nursing fields and the ever-changing education and licensure requirements, the most important trait any nurse can have is flexibility. That’s not the only characteristic that matters. Here are five personality traits that any potential nurse should possess.
1. Emotional Resilience
Nursing school isn’t easy. It takes an ability to roll with the punches, to shake off a bad grade on an exam and put on a smile before heading into a patient’s room. Life as a nurse doesn’t get easier after graduation, either. Nurses help patients navigate trauma, unwanted diagnoses and struggles with the healthcare system. Whether it comes through meditation, journaling or time with family, successful nurses must be able to move past difficult events and recover in time for the next shift.
2. Scientific Passion
Nurses don’t just change bedpans, give sponge baths and follow doctors’ orders. In modern healthcare, nurses are an important part of the healthcare team. The average floor nurse cares for 12 patients; a typical doctor manages more than 100 cases at a time. Nurses know their patients – their allergies, support systems and cultural backgrounds. This means nurses have an obligation to advocate for their patients’ unique needs. Without a strong scientific background, other healthcare providers won’t respect nurses or their suggestions. An important trait for successful nurses is the scientific understanding to explain why a patient needs a special order or a different therapist. Nurses also double-check medication dosages and interactions, often catching serious errors before they affect patients.
Nurses have great power. A home health nurse might be the only person interacting with a mentally challenged patient. Without ethics, that nurse could lounge around the house all day and ignore the patients’ needs. Unethical nurses might steal opiate medication, abuse patients or deliberately lie on patients’ medical charts. The vast majority of nurses would never actively harm a patient, and the nursing profession takes great pride in being ranked as the most honest and ethical profession in America by Gallup International for over 15 years. That’s why an important trait for nurses is being ethical – nurses without ethics will quickly face disciplinary hearings and possibly lose their licenses.
4. Physically Fit
Nursing is not an easy profession. The average nurse spends twelve hours a day rushing between patients with barely enough time to visit the restroom or scarf down a meal. Without physical fitness, nurses will struggle to find work in bedside care. Of course, hospitals need nurse managers and nurse educators, but it’s important for nurses to be physically fit enough to build up work experience before moving behind a desk.
Patients don’t always share their medical issues. A good nurse needs great listening skills to encourage patients to open up. This means an ability to deftly navigate conversations to build rapport with patients while preserving enough time to deliver quality care to everyone. Plus, nurses need to communicate with other healthcare providers.
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These aren’t the only five traits that matter. Cultural competency, empathy, problem-solving abilities and critical thinking are also important characteristics for successful nurses.