Nursing is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling careers out there for those who are interested in pursuing work in the health care field. Nurses have the training and unique skill sets to be able to deliver high-quality care to a wide variety of patients, making a direct difference in their outcomes.
A nursing career can be demanding. Nurses, particularly ones who are just beginning their careers, often work long hours and have grueling schedules. In addition, they have to be adaptable and ready for whatever comes their way. For these reasons, it takes a special type of person to be a successful nurse.
If you are interested in a nursing career, it’s important to understand the job requirements as well as the traits that will help you along the way. The most effective nursing professionals share the following characteristics:
- Excellent communication skills: For nurses, being able to communicate well is one of the most important skill sets to have. They frequently work directly with both patients and other medical professionals, which makes speaking and listening critical — both in terms of understanding patient needs and physicians’ care plans.
- Empathy: Nurses should be empathetic toward their patients, providing comfort and explaining complicated medical terms when needed. The hospital experience can be difficult for patients, so nurses serve the role of ally as well as care provider.
- Detail-oriented: Nurses should pay close attention to the nuances of patient care. The smallest details can have far-reaching consequences when it comes to patients’ health, so being able to take in a large amount of information and act on it is part of what it takes to be a nurse and excel in the role.
- Creative thinking and problem solving: Nurses frequently find themselves in surprising situations, especially in emergency or trauma care. They have a short time to make care decisions that can be life-or-death, so being able to think creatively and make the right decision quickly is important. Successful nurses prepare for the unexpected.
Now that you know what it takes to be a nurse, take our quiz to find out which nursing career path may be right for you.
Do I Have What It Takes to be a Nurse? [QUIZ]
Ready to determine whether you have what it takes to be a nurse? Take our “should I be a nurse” quiz to find out!
Your ideal Saturday involves:
- Volunteering at a local charity
- Meal prep and getting organized for the week ahead
- Consulting Google to figure out where your group of friends should meet for brunch the next day
- Teaching your best friend how to make your signature dish
To study for an important exam, you:
- Get a study group together so you can help others learn while you study
- Create flash cards and organize your time into study blocks to make sure you cover everything
- Head to the library to read up on everything you think might be covered
- Tutor someone who is struggling in the class
Your favorite kind of dinner plans are:
- With a big group! You love sharing dishes and having great conversations.
- One-on-one with your significant other or a close friend
- Alone, so you have more time to read while you eat
- At a new restaurant so you can learn about a style of food you haven’t tried before
When you are stressed out, you:
- Reach out to your friends for moral support
- Make a to-do list (or several)
- Research your body’s response to stress and the best ways to decompress
- Go to a yoga class to learn restorative poses
Your ideal vacation would be:
- A trip to another country to provide aid
- A multi-city European trip with a packed itinerary — organized by you, of course
- The chance to participate in an archaeological dig in a remote location
- Somewhere you’ve been before so you can show others the best places to eat and sightsee
In your group of friends, you are:
- The listener
- The planner
- The quiet one
- The “mom” of the group
What population are you most comfortable interacting with?
- Vulnerable populations and people who have experienced trauma
- Fellow professionals
- Academic types
Which word best describes you?
Nursing Career Paths
Depending on your results from the quiz, you may be well-suited for a specific nursing specialty, from education to research and more. The following are just some of the many career options available in the nursing field.
- Patient care and advocacy: Nurse advocates serve as a liaison between physicians and patients. They help patients understand their illness and treatment so that they can make informed decisions about their health. If the patient disagrees with a doctor’s treatment choices, the nurse advocate’s role is to be the patient’s voice in the clinical setting.
- Administration and leadership: Clinical nurse leaders oversee the process of patient care and the medical team they work with. They work with care teams to determine treatment plans and evaluate outcomes. This role is what is known as “advanced generalist,” meaning nurse leaders have a deep understanding of general medicine rather than one specific area of specialty.
- Research: Research nurses work in a scientific setting, conducting research to drive innovation in the nursing field. They may develop studies, assess data, and report their findings, along with writing grants to fund research. This career path is critical for making new discoveries that shape the future of nursing.
- Nurse education: Nurse educators prepare the next generation of nurses to provide excellent patient care. They teach students who are studying for their nursing degree, often in continuing education settings. This career path involves designing academic curriculum and evaluating student performance.
Concordia University, St. Paul offers an online RN to BSN designed for registered nurses who are interested in deepening their knowledge of nursing practice and advancing their careers. It combines theoretical inquiry and practical application to give you insight into ethics, evidence-based practice, collaboration, care coordination, community health, and more. In addition, the flexible online format gives you the convenience to fit your studies into your busy schedule.