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Essential Skills and Qualities for Nursing

A degree may open the door to a variety of opportunities and diverse career paths. The degree programs offered at CTU will not necessarily lead to the featured careers. This collection of articles is intended to help inform and guide you through the process of determining which level of degree and types of certifications align with your desired career path.

The job outlook for registered nurses (RNs) is projected to grow by 16% through the year 2024, according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.1 While this projected growth may be regarded as a positive sign, those interested in joining the nursing workforce may want to consider the skills and qualities needed before entering a career in nursing.

Dedicated Leadership

Successful leaders in nursing must inspire others to work together effectively toward a shared goal. Examples of these goals can include providing excellent care, reducing infection rates, designing cost-saving procedures, or challenging ethics of a new policy. Other common traits of nursing leaders include helping others find meaning or purpose and developing trust through displaying reliability and consistency.2


A nurse should have exceptional stamina and a strong work ethic since their occupations often require long shifts and heavy patient loads while operating in stressful environments. Physically, the job demands that RNs remain on their feet for long periods of time as well as lift heavy equipment and provide physical support to patients.3, 4

Mental stamina and emotional stability are also crucial in a field like nursing. Nursing professionals may encounter pressure and difficult emotions that occur when dealing with trauma, human suffering and other emergencies on a daily basis. Nurses must be able to stay focused and attentive when meeting the challenges and responsibilities involved in caring for patients.3, 4


Empathy allows nurses to let others express their concerns and provide feedback without taking on grief or other burdening emotions. Being compassionate and caring are also key elements involved in empathy. Empathetic and kindhearted nurses can understand what patients or family members are going through and provide comfort by listening to and addressing their concerns.3, 5

Positive Attitude and Sense of Humor

A positive attitude can be a great attribute in any aspect of someone’s life, but it may be especially critical for a career in nursing. Those with optimistic or positive attitudes tend to handle stress better, and a sense of humor may help alleviate the toll that stressful situations can have on nurses, colleagues, patients and families.5, 6

Effective Communication

Time spent at a hospital is typically stressful for patients and their families. Therefore, it is up to nurses to bridge the communication gap that may exist between an institution and the patient or the patient and a physician. Strong communication skills can help mitigate frustration and ease anxiety for the patient and their loved ones. A large part of effective communication is speaking politely and patiently as well as active listening. In order to solve problems, especially in emotionally charged situations, it is critical for nurses to have exceptional speaking, listening and interpersonal skills.4, 5

Furthermore, clear communication with other members of a health care team can save time and help make completing medical tasks easier. In addition, effective communication can assist doctors and nurses in determining diagnoses and developing treatment plans.5


Nursing can be challenging when dealing with diverse patients at different levels of care. A nurse may want to take into consideration the likelihood that he or she will treat an assorted patient population with varying personalities, cultures and religions. Also, they should prepare to work with a diverse level of diagnoses. RNs are required to perform multiple tasks and handle numerous patients throughout a day and in many environments. Attributes of adaptability and flexibility are essential for those in nursing positions.4

Whether pursuing nursing or another position in the health care industry, certain personal attributes and qualities are important and may help contribute to success in an RN career.

Pursue a Nursing Degree at CTU

Colorado Technical University’s mission is to provide industry-related higher education to a diverse student population through innovative technology and experienced faculty, enabling the pursuit of personal and professional goals. If you are interested in obtaining a degree in nursing, Colorado Technical University’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education ( Learn more about CTU’s nursing programs.

1. "Registered Nurses: Summary." Retrieved from: (Visited 8/23/17).
2. Weiss, Sally A. and Ruth M. Tappen “Essential of Nursing Leadership and Management.” Retrieved from: (Visited 10/11/17).
3. "How to Become a Registered Nurse." Retrieved from: (Visited 8/23/17).
4. “Top Ten Traits of a Great Nurse.” Retrieved from: (Visited 8/23/17).
5. Kapoor, Swati. "10 Qualities That Make a Great Nurse." Retrieved from: (Visited 8/23/17).
6. Bergland, Christopher. “Optimism Stabilizes Cortisol Levels and Lowers Stress.” Retrieved from: (Visited 8/23/17).

For important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended this program, go to CTU cannot guarantee employment or salary. Not all programs are available to residents of all states. Financial aid is available for those who qualify.
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