Are you a person who can create a stable routine out of chaos and notices every detail? Do you have a strong stomach? Are you physically fit? Believe it or not, every one of these characteristics can be connected to good nursing. Nursing brings you in contact with all kinds of people in many different situations. While nursing specializations may require different personality traits, there are a general set of ‘dos’ that every potential nurse should have available in their toolbox. Consider these personality traits at the top of any nursing A-list:

Caring and Empathetic

If you can’t put yourself in someone else’s shoes, particularly a person who is in pain and may be terrified, you might as well stop your studies right now and go into a different profession.  Nurses need these two characteristics, some might argue, more than anything else.

Physical Endurance

Nursing is quite a physical job. There is very little sitting at desks.  You are on your feet for many hours, sometimes an entire 12-hour shift!

Eagle-eyed, Organized and Detail-oriented

You’ll need to know everything about your patients, write it down in numerous places, and be able to notice and record changes that might seem very minute or unimportant to the average observer. This is hugely important. The smallest sign might mean a patient is in distress or their illness is somehow changing.

Able to think and act quickly

Nurses are the ones who spend the most time with patients, and, therefore, are on the front lines to notice if anything goes wrong.  You’ve got to be able to note any changes in a patient, and act immediately if something is distressing them.  It could be the difference between life and death.


During a recent study of cancer patients, the most important quality, by far, was that nurses be cheerful, kind and unflaggingly optimistic, even in the face of devastating news.

Excellent Communicator

This is a general across-the-board requirement. You’ll need to communicate diagnoses, ailments, treatment processes and other things clearly to patients. You’ll need to communicate up-to-the-minute changes in your patients’ care to doctors and other specialists. You’ll be writing this all down, not once, not twice, but frequently. That means your written and verbal communication skills had better be good.


No day is the same at a nursing station. One moment your shift may contain calm, happy, recovering patients, the next it might involve screaming, pain, or other urgent patient scenarios. You should not be one of those people who likes routine, but you need to be able to establish order amidst an always dynamic work environment.

Able to handle bodily fluids

This blogger and ICU nurse puts it best on his blog: “When you are a nurse, you will be surrounded by germs, and be constantly splashed with body fluids. Sometimes you will get blood in your eyes, injure yourself with a used needle, or have to eat lunch after just having your hands elbow deep in someone’s abdominal wound.” There you have it, folks, the non-sugar coated version straight from the horse’s mouth.


Your job is always focused around people. You should like people, generally, even if specific cases get on your nerves. And you are going to have to learn to pretend to like the patients you don’t get along with. Remember, people aren’t all at their best when they are ill which leaves it up to you to raise the bar.

If none of this fazes you, nursing is definitely the career for you. If you’ve got the personality, register for school to get the requisite skills.

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