To make it as a nurse, you will need to study and get qualified.  However, alongside that, there are many soft skills you will need if you want to be good at the job and well-respected by your colleagues.

, The Skills You Will Need to Succeed as A Nurse, Days of a Domestic Dad

What It Takes To Be Good Nurse

It would help if you already had many of these when you start, as this will make it easier to settle into the job.  However, some of these skills can be learned as you go along.  Here are the skills you will need to succeed as a nurse.


Compassion is one of the most important skills you can have, and this is the soft skill people think of when they consider what qualities a nurse has.  The good news is that you probably already have a lot of compassion, otherwise, you are unlikely to be considering a career in nursing. Compassion will help you to deal with the sick and the dying and this is the skill that will help you to look after people to the best of your ability.  The more of it you have, the better you will be at your job.


Nursing is more than just a job or career; it is a vocation.  You need to be dedicated to your role and really believe in what you are doing.  You will be making a huge difference in people’s lives, but it is not an easy job to undertake.  You will be dealing with sick people who you care about and trying to do a lot of different things at once.  This can make you tired and stressed and the shift work you will be expected to do will add to that.  You need to be dedicated to the job in order to look past all that, get your head down, and carry on in the bad times as well as the good.  If you aren’t dedicated to your vocation, you may not last long.

Communication Skills

A nurse has to be able to communicate with people from all demographics.  One minute you could be having a technical medical conversation with a specialist doctor and the next minute you will need to find a way of putting that conversation into words that your sick patient will be able to understand.  The ability to communicate plays a huge part in how good you are as a nurse, and it is something that is not easy to pick up.  If you have a natural ability to communicate with lots of different people, you will find the job easier.

Organizational Skills

Being organized is a very important part of being a good nurse.  You will have a lot of patients to deal with at the same time and there will be colleagues to communicate with and other issues to deal with too.  A lot of people are going to want your attention and if you are not incredibly organized you will become quite overwhelmed. The ability to prioritize is crucial too, as this will assist you in deciding who to help first.  You will need to be able to assess the situation and see if one matter will need your attention before any other, or whether you can add it to the list of things you need to get done before the end of your shift.

Detail Orientated

The ability to look at the finer detail and small print, even when you are under stress, is crucial to the role of nursing. It is literally a matter of life and death, as mixing up patient notes or giving the wrong amount of medication could be fatal.  The ability to quickly and easily assimilate complex information is going to be crucial to the role. This is a skill that will have to come naturally to you, as learning it on the job will take time and mistakes could happen.

Stress Management

The ability to cope well with stress is a must-have.  Nursing can be a very stressful job. It is likely that you will never have found yourself under that amount of stress before, so you will not know how well you cope with stress until you start doing the job.  There are ways of combatting stress such as trying to leave your working life at work rather than worrying about your day once you have finished your shift.  Meditation and relaxation can help you with this.  Always try to eat properly, don’t skip meals because you are too busy to eat, and make sure you get a good night’s sleep.  If you don’t look after yourself then your ability to look after others will suffer.

Physically Strong

As well as being mentally strong, being physically strong is also a good attribute in a nurse.  While you are not expected to be a champion bodybuilder, you will be expected to lift and move patients, push drug trollies, and carry out other physical activities.  A certain amount of physical strength is necessary to carry out these tasks.  Try to stay fit while you are not working by playing sport or going to the gym.  This will help you physically, but these activities can also be good for you mentally as it gives you an outlet for your energy and emotion.


You will need to be strong-willed to be a good nurse.  Sticking to your guns and getting the job done can be difficult when you have stressed colleagues and demanding patients to deal with, and sometimes you will have to be able to fight your own fight and do what you need to do.  A strong will and the determination to succeed at all costs will stand you in good stead here and help you be efficient and good at your job.

Desire to Learn

A nurse is the heart of the healthcare community. To become a nurse, you will have to go to college and get the relevant qualifications.  This enables you to enter a ward and nurse patients.  However, this is not the end of your learning journey, it is the beginning.  There are a lot of things you will need to learn on the job.  You will often have a mentor or senior nurse to look after you and assist with your training at first. 

Once you are competent and confident in your job you may want to consider the next steps in your career.  As a nurse, you will have the opportunity to take additional qualifications to aid your promotion prospects or specialize in a particular type of patient.  You will need to learn more skills to do this and undertake more studying to get your qualifications.  The world of nursing is constantly changing as new drugs are invented or new working practices are introduced.  You will need to learn about all of these as you go along.  Nursing is a career where you will spend a lifetime learning new skills, so don’t go into it if you want your education to end at your graduation.


You will need to be flexible to make a good nurse.  Your world will change constantly as new patients are brought in and others are sent home. You will have ever-changing priorities and some days it will feel as if everything is being thrown at you at once.  Some days your ward will be short-staffed, so you may need to have the flexibility to work longer hours or change your shifts at short notice.  This is not a good job for people who want to know exactly what they are going to be doing for the next day, month, and year, as the nursing world simply isn’t run like that.  A huge degree of flexibility will be expected of you, and you need to be able to accommodate that.


Nursing is a hugely responsible job.  Although you may need to take orders from senior colleagues, ultimately the buck stops with you. There are often times when you will need to listen to your own intuition and make difficult decisions. Sometimes you will find yourself in charge of a lot of patients at the same time. 

As you progress in your career you may find yourself in charge of a team or award.  You need to be able to take your responsibility seriously and enjoy taking charge in difficult situations from day one to be a good nurse. A great nurse can’t wait to get started and thrives on being in command.

Here are the top skills you will need to become a good nurse.  Some of these can be learned on the job but others are skills that you will already have.  A career in nursing is a great choice for many people and it is a lifelong vocation, and you will love it if you have these skills, or you can learn them. 

There will always be a need for nurses, especially great ones, so you are unlikely to be made redundant, and if you are, you will not be out of work for long.