10 Qualities of a Good Nurse

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There are many components in how to be a successful nurse, but there are several characteristics that should be taken into account before making the leap. Here, Marquette reviews some of the qualities of a good nurse that will help you have a long, fulfilling career.

nurse holding patient's hand

Nursing is a rewarding career, offering the chance to make a life-changing impact on patients and families. The job also comes with challenges, and a nurse must possess specific characteristics to overcome them. The qualities of a good nurse include compassion and positivity, but courage and resilience are also part of a larger series of traits informing what makes a good nurse. These qualities help nurses sustain long, successful and fulfilling careers.

In Marquette University's Second Degree Direct Entry Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program, we prepare our students with the education and skills they need to succeed while emphasizing these qualities and encouraging real-world implementation.

If you are wondering how to be a successful nurse and considering whether you should pursue a career in nursing, read on as we explore 10 of the most essential nursing qualities before starting your journey.

1. Cura Personalis

Cura Personalis is a Latin phrase meaning "care for the person." A nurse's job is to care for the health of a person. However, caring for the person means caring for them as a whole — mind, body and spirit — while promoting human dignity.

When patients come in to receive help, they are often in positions where they feel diminished, embarrassed or weak. A nurse's job is to help heal the body and care for patients' emotions and dignity by treating them with respect and empathy.

2. Courageous Leader

The healthcare environment can be fast-paced, and urgent needs can arise anytime. This is why nurses must be leaders willing to step in and take charge of a situation. Acting with decisiveness and confidence can help the healthcare team address issues and provide patients with the best care possible.

Many of these circumstances can be high-stakes and emotionally charged. As such, nurses must be brave in leading patients and families through the treatment process, even when it seems frightening.

portrait of nursing student smiling

3. Advocacy for the Vulnerable

Self-advocacy is never easy, and it can be very difficult for patients in pain or experiencing health issues. This is where nurses make a difference for them. A nurse with knowledge of treatment, an investment in the patient's health and relationships with fellow patient care team members has the power and responsibility to advocate for patients in their vulnerable state.

Nurses spend the most time with patients of all healthcare workers, often building relationships and becoming familiar with patients' everyday needs. Within this context, being a keen advocate for the vulnerable will have a marked impact on patient care. Nurses work with physicians, patients and their families to make decisions and ensure patients' needs are met to promote the best possible outcome.

4. Critical Thinker

Within the healthcare field, minor symptoms or variables can indicate the root issue. As such, being aware of small changes in a patient's mood or condition (and communicating these) can make a world of difference in the patient's care. Remaining an engaged critical thinker in each patient interaction can heighten the level of care you can provide as a nurse and is a key characteristic for everyone working within the field.

Through Marquette's Direct Entry MSN program, we work to hone student's critical thinking qualities with the coursework, skills labs, clinical simulations and clinical courses in our 19–21-month curriculum. DE-MSN students gain clinical knowledge and skills and apply them to both simulated and real-world patient care scenarios.

nurse smiling and shaking hands with coworkers

Why choose a master's program over other nursing school options? Here is more about what you can do with a master's in nursing.

5. Social Justice Champion

While the healthcare field is constantly changing and developing, many issues must be addressed. Unfortunately, systemic issues within healthcare can result in variations in the quality of care each patient receives. For example, in many areas, the identification of conditions and differences in treatment for women and people of color may be under-researched.

Advocating for the highest care standards for all indicates that a nurse is empathetic and acting as a social justice champion. For prospective nurses who want to be social justice champions, awareness is the first and most important step to prioritize the preservation of dignity for all patients.

These first entries in our list are all characteristics of the Marquette-educated nurse. From caring for an individual beyond their symptoms alone, to standing up for those who need an advocate, Marquette believes that having these characteristics are among the most important for those who care for patients in mind, body and spirit. Now let’s go on to explore further characteristics which are also essential to nursing practice.

6. Hardworking

nursing students over manikin

While it is a rewarding profession, being a nurse is not easy. Nurses often work long and unusual hours on their feet. They must be diligent about self-care and willing to sacrifice to have a place in this essential field. This requires nurses to be hardworking individuals.

If you are willing to put in the extra effort to help those around you, or if you feel that hard work is its own reward, then a nursing career can help you make a difference in the lives of patients around you.

7. Lifelong Learner

While being a lifelong learner is essential in any field, continuing education is particularly important in nursing. Healthcare is an ever-evolving field where new practices and techniques are always being developed. Being a lifelong learner means staying engaged in your career. If you love taking on new challenges and learning new things, nursing could be the right path for you.

two nursing students studying at a table

8. Clear Communicator

Communication is a central element of nursing and is vital in providing care and ensuring the healthcare team operates smoothly. Nurses must convey information to patients and their families, who may have little to no knowledge about the intricacies of their medical issues or treatment plans. As a nurse, you must take a complicated piece of information and share it with the patient in a way that makes sense to them without omitting vital details.

Nurses must effectively communicate with each other and other medical personnel. Nurses work as a team, caring for patients in shifts and sharing the workload. For the sake of the patient, any developments must be shared and decisions made through collaboration rather than individual opinion. If you are a natural communicator, nursing will ensure you put those skills to use.

9. Adaptable

With the fast pace and stress in nursing, remaining adaptable and cool under pressure is one of the most essential qualities of a nurse. A patient's condition could potentially turn at any moment, and nurses must be able to respond quickly and rationally. This requires a high level of adaptability.

miling portrait of nursing student holding clipboard

Adaptability is an inherent skill but can be developed with experience as you gain confidence in labs and clinical rotations. With practice, you can remain adaptable and be ready to take on whatever new situation may arise.

10. Passionate About Nursing

While it may seem obvious, a passion for the field will make the greatest difference in your career. With all the challenges that come with nursing, you might ask yourself if nursing is worth it. If you know you are meant to be a nurse, it will all be worth it. A love for the job will sustain and fuel you as you continue throughout your nursing journey.

doctor with nurses around a patient on bed with monitors

Explore nursing specialties available to you with an MSN degree.

Develop Your Nursing Qualities Through Marquette's Direct Entry MSN

At Marquette, you can apply the qualities of a good nurse you already possess while in school to graduate as a fully prepared nurse professional. Not only do we emphasize these qualities in our online coursework, but you will have opportunities to develop these skills through practical application in simulation labs and clinical rotations. With Marquette's Direct Entry MSN program, all of this can be completed in 19–21 months.

To learn more about the Direct Entry MSN program and if it is a good fit for you, contact us today and speak with an admissions adviser.