You already know that you are an empathetic, energetic, organized and caring person. Those are the top personality traits required to be a good nurse. But beyond that, what does your personality tell you about what direction your nursing career path could take? Are you, for instance, a good team player who doesn’t like to rock the boat? Working in a medical surgery unit might be your best bet. Are you cheerful and do you enjoy interacting with people? Maternal-child nursing may be calling your name.

It just depends on what type of nurse you want to become, because there are as many different jobs in nursing as there are personality traits. Thank goodness, right? Nursing brings you in contact with many different kinds of people in a wide variety of situations. It would make sense that there is no “one size fits all” policy on personality traits that make a good nurse. Below are a few different nursing careers and the personality traits associated with them:

Surgical Unit Nurses:

In surgeries, which must be conducted with extreme precision, a nurse must display a strong sense of collaborative effort with other people in a team. Surgical nurses tend to be more passive than their counterparts in other professions, research studies show.

ICU/Critical Care Nurses:

A 30-year-old nurse writes in his blog The Intensive Art: Diary of an ICU Nurse that one of the crucial elements in nursing is to be an adrenaline junkie.

“We care for the sickest of the sick patients. We respond to code blues. We deal with unstable and ‘crashing’ patients all the time,” he writes.  “But nothing is more frustrating than a nurse who hides away, hoping they get the easiest patient, and cringes at the thought of getting called to a code blue, or lives in fear that their patient’s blood pressure may change.”

Additionally, there has been research showing that ICU nurses also have high levels of mechanics, mathematics and organizational ability.

Travel Nurses:

If you are a travel nurse, on the other hand, it may be your outgoing personality, or ability to make friends easily that will be most helpful. You’ll be constantly landing in places where you don’t know many people. Travel nursing can be lonely if you aren’t prepared to enter a new social scene. Adaptability is another key trait, as you’ll constantly be assessing the specific needs at each new job location and adjusting accordingly.

Oncology Nurses:

In a recent literature review of cancer patient surveys from around the world, patients overwhelmingly required that besides the general character traits of optimism in the face of often devastating news, a good nurse was someone who was very knowledgeable about cancer treatments and options, and could explain them well.

Hospice Nurses:

It takes a specific personality type to deal gracefully and well with people who are dying. A hospice nurse’s job is to make death a painless as possible as patients go through the process in the comfort of their home. That requires an exceptional degree of caring, patience, and calm. It also requires a certain capacity for spiritual and emotional counseling (primarily for the surviving family members, but also for the dying person as well). Tests have also shown hospice nurses to be more assertive, independent, rebellious and creative than those in other disciplines.

Holistic Nurses:

Since a holistic nurse treats the whole person and is not just concerned with the medical causes of illness, but also the impact of the person’s psychological, emotional and spiritual states on their health, the most important traits for this career are to be a  good listener and very open-minded.

Public Health Nurses:

Because public health nurses are often working with statistics and numbers to try and prevent widespread health problems, a good analytical mind, and the ability to recognize patterns are very important traits.  You must also be a good communicator, since much of the information you will be both giving and receiving comes from the general public.

Psychiatric Nurses:

Often dealing with people who have severe mental disorders, a psychiatric nurse must possess an exceptional emotional stability, plus the ability to bond with these challenging patients and gain their trust. Because of this, like hospice nurses, psychiatric nurses tend to be more independent, creative, assertive and rebellious than their counterparts in other areas of nursing.

In short, if you are willing to work hard, and are caring and smart, there is probably a specific nursing career for you.

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