Are you wondering if you should become a nurse? Is there any way to tell if it’s the best career for you? Are there some signs that show nursing could be right for you?
Maybe you’ve dreamed of being a nurse since you were little. Maybe it became appealing when you found out about the opportunities that nurses have. Or maybe you’re just now learning that nursing could be the way to meet your personal and professional goals.
No matter how you arrive at the point of considering a career in nursing, there are some traits that are common to most people who decide to enter the profession. No one has every single trait, but there are some useful attributes that seem to contribute to being a successful nurse.
Personalities of Great Nurses
- You care about others.
Even with rigorous job demands, a nurse ultimately focuses on the patients and how to make their lives better. Before entering nursing school, you probably asked friends how they were feeling or offered to assist them without being asked. You may have automatically cared for family members or looked for ways to make them feel better. You checked with a neighbor to see if they needed anything before you went to the store. These are all signs of a natural sense of caring.
- People tend to like you.
Your personality appeals to all kinds of people. Perhaps you’re easy-going or have a good sense of humor. Others may comment on how well you listen or on your ability to be a team player. There’s no specific skill; you’re simply pleasant to be around. Overall, others are glad to see you. They enjoy spending time or working with you.
- Energy and enthusiasm abound.
No, you are not expected to be the Energizer Bunny, never stopping, no matter what. You’re human, and sometimes you get tired. But being a nurse does require a solid supply of energy, which includes staying alert and observant. Knowing how to pace yourself is important, too. Being enthusiastic means you stay upbeat during all interactions. Both energy and enthusiasm show that you want to be there, ready to provide the best possible care.
- And yet, you can stay calm.
Even before thinking about becoming a nurse, you are able to avoid panic when unexpected events happen. Whether your child falls and gets a bloody lip or plans get canceled at the last minute, you can remain composed, assess the situation, and figure out a quick solution. As a nurse, you’ll encounter different situations every day. The ability to step back momentarily, stay steady, and then take appropriate action is crucial.
- You know how to balance your life.
Nursing can be extremely stressful, no matter what area of healthcare you choose. After a shift of nonstop giving and caring, it’s important to be able to have ways to separate your career from your personal life. Family time, friends, exercise, travel, meditation, hobbies…you can truly enjoy your time away from the job. Work-life balance prevents burnout and improves your happiness.
Skills and Habits of Successful Nurses
- You’re a multi-tasker.
Believe it or not, not everyone can juggle more than one responsibility at a time. At home, you seem to get everything done without breaking a sweat. For a nurse, managing multiple assignments is second nature. The ability to keep track of your patients and easily switch back-and-forth between duties is essential. Whether you use a list or an app, your level of organization is top-notch.
- You are also very organized.
Maybe you use a calendar or planner to make sure you don’t miss anything. Or you keep your kitchen, drawers, and closets in an order that makes perfect sense to you. When you prepare to take a trip, you think of every possible detail. Nurses must be organized in order to be efficient and avoid mistakes. Sloppiness or poor time management could cost a life.
- Critical thinking is easy. You may not know that you already know how to think critically. But every time you face a problem or decision, gather information and use it to think of a creative solution, you’re doing critical thinking. In nursing school, you learn the components and process, as well as how to apply them to your nursing practice. The NCLEX emphasizes critical thinking, so if problem-solving is easy for you, you’ll do well.
- Learning never stops.
Are you curious? Do you enjoy learning about new subjects? It’s not necessary to be a brilliant student, but rather, to have the ability to informally tackle new projects or figure out how to do things better. Healthcare is constantly changing, and nurses are always being trained on new techniques, procedures, medications, and anything else that crops up.
- You can be a leader.
Maybe you’re the one in the family that organizes holidays. At school or work, you head the food drive or charity 5K run. These are signs of being a leader. Even as a staff nurse, you will always lead at some level. You might assign a Certified Nursing Assistant tasks or you may be the spokesperson for changing an outdated policy. Perhaps you will arrange the staff potluck meal on a weekend. These are small examples of everyday leadership.
More Traits You May Already Have
- Blood doesn’t make you faint.
Can you deal with cuts and bruises without a thought? Or does just the thought of a bloody nose make you ill? Not every nursing job involves blood, but at some point during your training, you’ll see blood in different settings: surgery, wounds, birth. You may also watch blood being drawn for testing or being administered. Blood—and other body fluids—are hard to avoid in a nursing career.
- You can follow rules.
You already know how to follow driving laws. And you comply with health regulations, such as wearing a face mask. Healthcare is full of standards and rules, designed for the safety of patients and workers. Federal guidelines are strictly enforced. Institutional policies and procedures are not negotiable or optional. Nurses work independently during their shift, yet always within the rules that protect client safety and confidentiality.
- Flexibility isn’t a deal-breaker.
Your personal life probably has plenty of scheduling snags or last-minute changes. If you can “roll with the punches,” then being a nurse won’t be a challenge. Nurses work different shifts, get floated to other units, and take their turns on holidays. Even during a shift, patient care can require your meals to get delayed or your assignments may get changed. Adaptability is expected.
- You trust science.
Medicine is based on research and data. The scientific method is rigorous, resulting in treatments and cures. It operates outside of factors such as popular opinion or politics. In 2020, the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic experienced surges when people believed the virus was a hoax and refused to comply with basic medical principles. Nursing practice is evidence-based: using critically appraised and scientifically proven evidence to delivering quality health care to specific populations.
- Service is a priority.
If you understand that every human deserves respect and compassion, then you are also willing to contribute to their health and welfare. As a nurse, you listen to your patient’s concerns and try to assist. You show empathy and compassion, no matter what their issue. You don’t judge, but always provide the best possible care in any situation. When it’s necessary, you advocate for your patient and their family.
Are You Ready for Job Satisfaction?
If you share any traits of successful nurses, you should consider pursuing your own career as a nurse. No job or career is perfect, but nurses tend to report high satisfaction with their work. In the 2017 Survey of Registered Nurses, by AMN Healthcare, 83% of respondents agreed that they were satisfied with their career choice. About 82% of Millennial and Gen X nurses and 84% of Baby Boomers were glad they were nurses.
In 2018, Medscape produced a Nurse Career Satisfaction Report. No matter which degree, license, or certification they chose, nursing professionals enjoyed their work. In answer to “Are you glad you became a nurse or advanced practice nurse?” here are the percentages who responded YES: 94% of Registered Nurses; 95% of Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurses; and 96% of Nurse Practitioners.
Over 40% of LPNs and RNs stated that “making a difference in people’s lives” was the most rewarding aspect of their jobs. Other perceived rewards included:
- “Patients stay healthy because of me”
- Flexibility in time and hours
- Educating the next generation of nurses
- Balancing life, work, and spiritual health
If you think that nursing could be a good fit for your traits and skills, find out more from your local community colleges or universities. There are many career paths and opportunities—one or more will make you happy that you decided to become a nurse.
Article By: Winona Suzanne Ball (RN)