Personality Traits of a Nurse

In this article, you will learn all about the personality traits of a nurse so you can decide if nursing is the career choice for you.

There are few careers that offer as many rewards as nursing.

There is plenty of professional respect and potential for advancement. Not to mention the flexible working hours and opportunities to make a real difference in the lives of people.

What are the Qualities of the Very Best Nurses?

Of course, it is important for students to understand that just like in any other field of study, health care has its own set of challenges. While the work can be very satisfying, it is also physically and mentally demanding.

To succeed in this field and be happy while doing so, it is important to possess some important personality traits:

  • Caring
  • Communication Skills
  • Empathy
  • Attention to Detail
  • Problem Solving Skills
  • Stamina
  • Sense of Humor
  • Commitment to Patient Advocacy
  • Willingness to Learn
  • Critical Thinking
  • Time Management
  • Leadership
  • Experience
  • Emotional Stability
  • Open-Mindedness

So, let’s take a closer look at the qualities that make a world-class nurse

15 Personality Traits of a Nurse

To be successful and happy as a nurse, it helps to have certain personal characteristics and traits.

Check out this list of the personality traits that make a good nurse:

1. Caring

This first point seems only natural.

Most people assume that people enter into the nursing career because caring is one of their defining characteristics — but this should not always be assumed.

Many that assume the nursing career do so because of job security, are interested in using the career as a springboard for other pursuits or simply have a lack of alternatives.

But as a quality important to the nurse’s career, caring can make all the difference.

A nurse with the capacity to impart care to their patients, and by the same measure how they perform in their field, are a cut above the rest.

This will have a significant impact on their capacity to perform well and this makes caring an important task in the nurse’s personal success.

2. Communication Skills

The capacity to communicate well will be another important characteristic of a successful nurse.

The role of a nurse will be contingent on their capacity to communicate with other nurses, doctors, patients and their families.

If they are not able to communicate well, the nurse will have a greater chance of committing medical errors, leave patients feeling misinformed or neglected and the entire unit will feel the impact.

By improving communication skills, the nurse has an improved capacity to make patients feel safer, be a greater benefit to their recovery and benefit their unit and the entire hospital and health care system — not to mention improve their own career.

3. Empathy

Nurses will provide care for untold thousands of different patients throughout their career, and this carries the risk of becoming desensitised and forget what it is like to be a nonclinical person.

For this reason, one of the top characteristics of a good nurse is empathy, being able to place themselves in the shoes of their patients.

Through practicing empathy, nurses are better able to treat their patients like real human beings as opposed to merely following the routine.

When a patient receives treatment from an empathetic nurse, the quality of the care they receive is increased significantly.

4. Attention to Detail

There is tremendous pressure on the nurse to accurately balance the instructions they receive from physicians with their own resources of knowledge and experience when delivering superior care to their patients.

When this is combined with the need to care for more than one patient at the same time, the risk of human error increases dramatically.

A good nurse understands the gravity of their task and that the health and the very lives of their patients depends on their capacity to be methodical and careful in their work.

Being able to maintain a high level of attention to details reduces the chances of human error and greatly improves the success they have in their roles.

5. Problem Solving Skills

There is much clinical information and theoretical training in the nurse’s career, but the only way to improve problem solving skills is through on the job practice.

This will naturally improve through years of experience, but some nurses have a greater propensity for problem-solving and this is a crucial part of a nurse’s arsenal of beneficial characteristics.

Problems solving skills are of the utmost importance to a nurse as they have the most individual connection with their patients and are responsible for many of decisions that will result in recovery.

Even the smallest decisions can have considerable impacts on their patients’ health and can even have serious consequences if made incorrectly.

6. Stamina

One of the most underestimated aspects of the nursing career is the need for incredible physical endurance.

In any given shift, the nurse may be required to lift the equivalent weight of a fully grown hippo (1.8 tons) simply by lifting and adjusting the weight of patients.

They may even walk over 5 miles at the same time.

In any given 12-hour shit, the average nurse will have to face physical, emotional and mental challenges that few other industries will have to face.

Being able to manage this is part of what makes a good nurse. Their capacity for this type of stamina will affect the other nurses, the entire staff and the patients above all else.

Therefore, strong resources of stamina are something else that makes a good nurse.

7. Sense of Humor

Deriving satisfaction from the extremely demanding career of a nurse is tough, for this reason those with an exceptional sense of humor are typically more successful in their careers.

Nurses will typically find themselves in highly stressful situations.

But taking the time to enjoy their lives and cultivate a lighthearted attitude can greatly balance the stress they will experience on the job.

This capacity to remain positive will also help to pass on positivity to the other nurses and more importantly the patients and their families.

This is not only an important characteristic in a nurse, but it helps to remind patients and their families that nurses are also human.

This will improve the trust and communication with others and make them more open to hear feedback and advice.

In especially difficult situations, patients and their families will greatly appreciate a nurse that is able to bring cheer and hope to their lives.

8. Commitment to Patient Advocacy

This concept sits at the very foundation of medical care and is part of the Hippocratic oath.

In some way or another it can be found in any hospital’s mission statement: deliver top-quality care and attention and keep patients safe from harm.

Basically, it means that you will be the advocate of your patients and pay special attention to their overall care.

A great nurse will understand that this mindset is one that must be practiced continuously, with every patient and at every step of the care process.

It is not uncommon for patients to arrive at the hospital confused and disoriented with no capacity to speak up for their own benefit. This is where a nurse with a passion for her patients will be critical in fighting for the best care of their patients.

9. Willingness to Learn

The healthcare industry and medical professions are constantly making new breakthroughs and it is imperative that all healthcare workers take the time to improve their knowledge in an effort to provide the best care possible for their patients.

Nurses will spend more time with their patients than any other medical worker and their capacity to learn continuously will greatly improve their practice and this makes it one of the most important characteristics of a good nurse.

Multidisciplinary training, personalized training and other improvements in educational approaches can all benefit learning environments.

But it is critical that the individual nurse has the desire and willingness to learn for them to truly benefit from these approaches.

This applies equally to nurses of all ages and experience levels.

10. Critical Thinking

While the capacity to learn is of great importance, it must be coupled with the capacity to think critically as well — this is especially true in high-stress situations.

Highly functional critical thinking skills are of great importance to the professional nurse.

There will be many years of training and then more ongoing learning in the nurse’s career, but the capacity to apply this wealth of knowledge and best practices on the job will depend on the level of critical thinking the nurse possesses.

This will be easily noticed by other nurses, superiors and, in the end, by the patients being treated.

While this is something that can be cultivated, some nurses demonstrate a higher capacity for critical thinking than others.

11. Time Management

There will be a need to address the needs of various patients, balance competing priorities and juggles stressful care situations during any 12-hour shift.

For this reason, those with superior time-management skills will have an advantage.

Time-management will allow the nurse to properly discern which are the true priorities which is not always the most demanding family or patients.

Furthermore, the nurse will also have to place importance on their own need for self-care.

Refusing to take a needed break during their 12-hour shift will not be a benefit to anyone.

12. Leadership

Most nurses will enter the career with the idea of helping patients, but will soon find out that their career has placed them in the position of leader.

Sadly, there is not enough emphasis placed on leadership in the training and development of a nurse’s career.

An important quality in a nurse who will go far in their career is the capacity lead successfully.

But this must be balanced with the capacity to know when a role or position is not right for them and voice their concerns.

Exercising leadership in a nurse’s career shows that the individual is aware of their own capacity and willing to grow at their own pace.

Mentorships are an important part of learning valuable lessons on how to become a great nurse.

13. Experience

When veteran nurses leave the healthcare industry and enter retirement, they take with them a treasure trove of accumulated knowledge and experience that is nigh impossible to replace.

Then, most of the new candidates entering the industry who lack the same patient skills that can only come with time and extensive practice.

Nursing leaders can set new nurses up for success in their careers by engaging with them and instilling the values of continuous learning.

Passing on experience in this way has a wealth of positive benefits to the industry, individual organizations, nurses’ careers and, of course, patients themselves.

14. Emotional Stability

The job of a nurse is emotionally taxing. Difficult situations are part of the task and can bring with them moments of frustration, sadness, joy and surprise.

To effectively navigate this potential minefield and address the needs of patients, colleagues and family members, a good nurse must remain calm and collected in the most upsetting experiences.

This doesn’t mean that nurses should try to deaden their emotions and approach the task with dispassion.

Rather, it means that in order to provide the emotional support and care that people will need, a nurse must be able to control their own emotions and focus on the tasks at hand.

Research shows that nurses with the capacity to focus and concentrate make far better nurses and can better keep their patients safe from harm.

Much like empathy, this is a skill that can be honed, but this also takes a lot of time and effort. It also requires that nurses are patient with themselves.

Diffusing tension, balancing perspectives and staying mindful in the face of emotional upheaval are some of the practices that can help in learning this difficult quality.

15. Open-Mindedness

Nurses will encounter people from all walks of life.

Some will have different experiences and backgrounds that will greatly affect their thinking and behavior.

These can create unusual opinions and beliefs about healthcare and this can be difficult for many nurses to accept.

For example, one patient may refuse a blood transfusion for religious reasons, another may refuse a vaccination for their child or others may refuse life-sustaining treatment.

All of this can present difficult emotional challenges to the nurse. It is essential to understand that a patient has the right to make their own decisions when it comes to their own healthcare without undue pressure from the medical staff.

A nurse today will have to remain culturally competent.

This means being capable of caring for patients of all different backgrounds and cultural beliefs.

This may involve working with interpreters, assigning a religiously sensitive person with their preferred gender and respecting the need for modesty in specific situations.

Most nurses enter the industry with a strong desire to help their patients achieve wellness.

But in a professional and therapeutic setting, only an open-minded nurse will be able to provide culturally competent, effective and patient-centered care they need to recover.

Further Reading (+ Statistics About Nursing)

As new nurses are entering the workforce, identifying and encouraging specific nursing qualities will help hospitals and health systems recognize strong nursing candidates for hire and understand which current nurses on staff would make great leaders. With an estimated 2.86 million RNs in the U.S., it’s helpful to consider these 13 qualities of a good nurse that will help them be successful in navigating and thriving in today’s fast paced and everchanging healthcare landscape.


“More than four in five Americans (84%) again rate the honesty and ethical standards of nurses as ‘very high’ or ‘high,‘ earning them the top spot among a diverse list of professions for the 17th consecutive year,” Gallup reported again in December.


According to the 2016 Gallup Poll Americans identified nurses as the most honest and ethical profession for the 15th straight year in a row! Nurse practitioners are naturally viewed as trustworthy; however, we must continue to demonstrate this trait to each and every one of our patients. Possessing integrity means putting the patient first and standing up for their rights, even if you have to defend them against your boss, your employer, the insurance companies, the pharmaceutical lobby, or the national government.


There are nearly 220,000 of us , and that number is growing rapidly, with an estimated 20,000 new graduates every year.


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