The Qualities of a Good Nurse in Action

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A nurse making the rounds in a hospital ward.

Nurses play a critical role in administering patient care. Depending on the context, they may contribute to patient admission and triage, diagnostics, care delivery, or helping a patient recover after surgery. Nurses also provide invaluable support to doctors and other providers, collaborating with them to ensure patients’ needs are adequately met.

Skilled nursing professionals are more vital today than ever. Several factors make nursing a more consequential field, including the projected shortage of physicians, an aging population with a rising number of health concerns, and the need to deliver more cost-effective care.

Success in such a fast-moving and multifaceted role requires a number of clinical, administrative and leadership skills. Through formal training, such as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program, students can develop the qualities of a good nurse and prepare to apply them in a health care setting.

Job Description of a Registered Nurse

In considering the qualities of a good nurse, it’s important to acknowledge that different types of nurses are responsible for different levels of care. By far the most common and in-demand nursing role is that of the registered nurse (RN). RNs may work in a hospital, health clinic or medical practice, performing a wide range of important functions, including the following:

  • Assessing patients’ medical needs
  • Accessing patient records to document treatments, procedures, medications and diagnoses
  • Providing pharmaceutical intervention, through both injections and IVs
  • Ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests
  • Educating patients and their family members about different treatment processes

Additionally, RNs can serve as points of contact between patients, physicians and other treatment providers, coordinating medical care and providing diligent case management. While registered nurses may share some general responsibilities, their specific duties can change depending on the department or setting in which they practice. It’s important to note that nurses can practice not only in hospitals but also in nursing homes, skilled care facilities, home health services and more. Still other RNs become educators, either equipping the next generation of nurses or providing health and wellness guidelines to patients.

Nurse Leadership Roles

Some RNs may attain leadership roles, providing oversight to a team of nursing professionals. An RN who rises to the nurse manager or nurse supervisor level may be tasked with recruiting and training new nurses, ensuring all regulatory and facility-specific guidelines are met, and overseeing the general standards of patient care.

The Qualities of a Good Nurse

As they seek to provide high-level patient care, nurses benefit from a number of skills and character traits. These qualities enable them to provide for their patients while also offering dependable support to other providers involved with the case.

  • It’s essential for nurses to have empathy. Each day, they may find themselves working with patients struggling with minor injuries or with more serious, chronic or even terminal conditions. Bringing a sense of compassion to the workplace is key.
  • Nurses also need to be equipped to remain level-headed and composed even in highly emotional or traumatizing times. It is not uncommon for nurses to care for patients or family members who are struggling to cope with life-and-death situations.
  • RNs typically play a central role in managing a patient’s care plan, something that requires strong organizational skills and an eye for detail. RNs are often responsible for coordinating different treatments, such as medications or physical therapy, and it’s important that they be able to take both high-level and up-close views of a patient’s needs.
  • RNs should have excellent communication skills, as they will be working with physicians to create treatment plans, helping patients, and communicating with patients’ families.

These are just a few of the qualities of a good nurse in action, and developing them is essential not just for adding value to a clinical team but also for rising to new positions of nurse leadership and authority.

Pursuing a Career as a Nurse

Both current and aspiring nurses can benefit from earning a BSN. Nursing degree programs provide students with the opportunity to hone these skills and develop the traits necessary to administer empathetic patient care.

Enrollment in a BSN program allows not only for classroom learning but also for hands-on clinical experience. Nurses can develop the necessary clinical and administrative skills and then gain experience applying them in a real-world, potentially high-pressure environment.

In a BSN program, students benefit from a well-rounded curriculum that covers health care policy, population health, speech communication, information technology and other important concepts. These fields of study provide professionals with the knowledge base needed to thrive in a nursing career. While a BSN is not required to become an RN, it is generally preferred and serves as a smart stepping stone toward a long-term career as a nursing professional.

Learn More About Careers in Nursing

In Rider University’s online Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, students can take courses focusing on organizational and health care leadership, information management and the application of patient care technology, population health, and more. The curriculum provides them with a firm foundation in all the qualities required to be an exemplary nurse and an effective clinical care provider.

Start developing the qualities of a good nurse, and become an integral member of a clinical care team. Learn more about the program today.

Recommended Readings

What Is Health Communication? Its Importance in Health Care and Other Industries

What Is Health Information Technology and How Does It Impact Health Communication?

Why Is Health Literacy Important, and How Can Communication Experts Promote It?


The Balance Careers, “What Does a Registered Nurse (RN) Do?” 

Career Builder, “What Does a Registered Nurse Do?” 

Minority Nurse, “10 Qualities That Make a Great Nurse” 

National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Registered Nurses Leading Innovative Changes”, “7 Great Qualities of a Nurse” 

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered Nurses