What Makes a Good Nurse?

Nursing is considered one of the most rewarding jobs. It is more than a career – it is a calling. It takes a special kind of person to pursue nursing with diligence, passion and commitment. But that is not all there is to nursing.

Rewarding as it is, the nursing profession is riddled with challenges and unpredictability. It is more than just completing the rigorous education and testing requirements. Before you join nursing, it’s essential to know if you would make a good nurse. Not just based on the grades (which play a critical part) but other qualities and traits as well.

  1. Caring

Caring is the foundation of nursing. Without caring, it doesn’t matter how good your nursing skills are; you cannot be compassionate and provide quality care to others.

The entire profession of nursing is about caring for other people at their most vulnerable and scary times of their lives. Most of the time, the nurse is the most accessible and regular access point for families and loved ones of the patient. It calls for compassion, concern and sympathy not only for the patients they serve but also for their families and loved ones.

  1. Great communicator

Communication is one of the core requirements of any nursing job. A great nurse should be able to follow directions and communicate effectively with patients, colleagues and families.

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Good nurses are supportive, which includes being an effective advocate for the patient and being able to anticipate problems or see a concern that needs to be addressed and addressing it before the patient can ask.

Communication in nursing takes various forms. It includes genuine smiles and good body language. A good nurse has multiple ways to communicate to make the patient feel comfortable and at ease knowing they are well cared for.

  1. Empathy

Empathy is often confused with being caring and compassionate. But empathy is the ability to hear and share the patient’s feelings. You don’t always have to agree with what the patient or their family thinks, but you should try to understand where they’re coming from.

You don’t have to internalise their pain or suffering, which is important for your well-being, but you should listen and try to understand where they are coming from.

With empathy, a great nurse can make a patient feel seen and heard. The nurse shouldn’t make the patient feel judged, and they should feel that their opinion matters and their values and life experience have been heard and at times considered.

  1. Attention to detail

Providing quality medical care requires keen attention to detail which is critical for the profession. Even in the most chaotic circumstances, a good nurse should be detail-oriented and ensure that instructions are followed to the letter.

A good nurse should be observant and ensure proper medication dosages are administered and keep accurate medical records for the patient.

In the home setting, the nurse serves as a detail-oriented coordinator of the patient’s care. Good nurses are always the first ones to notice subtle changes in the patient’s medical condition and alert physicians and other healthcare team members of potential concerns before they get worse.

  1. Excellent problem-solving skills

Good nurses can think on their feet, act quickly and anticipate and address problems. Although patients might suffer from similar illnesses, most nurses will tell you no two patients are ever the same. It’s the nurse’s job to individualise the best care for each patient.

Quality care is dynamic and, at times, unpredictable. A good nurse is always willing to be flexible and adapt to unforeseen circumstances. The nurse should have a calm head, make important and potentially life-saving decisions while facing unexpected events. Finding creative ways to make a difference and approach different situations is also in line with the career of nursing.


Formal training is just a small part of being a good nurse. Most of the factors that separate nurses and good nurses are inborn characteristics and qualities that are impossible to teach. That is why nursing is often considered a calling and not a profession.

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