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What Are Some of the Best Qualities to Have as a Nurse?

Great nurses have strong leadership and communication skills

High quality nursing practice requires today’s nursing professionals to not only have extensive knowledge and skills but personal characteristics of compassion, empathy and a desire to heal. In addition, the modern health system calls for nurses to be leaders, critical thinkers, and effective communicators who can collaborate with diverse stakeholders. Nurses must be willing to continually learn, grow and adapt to change.

The accelerated, online RN to BSN program from the University of Texas at Arlington fosters these sought-after skills and gives nurses the ability to thrive in a more complex health system.

Qualities That Define a Great Nurse

Great nurses are steeped in the science of nursing practice, and they can understand a situation from a patient’s perspective. In the ever-evolving healthcare system, the following are other important qualities to have as a nurse.

Leadership and Management

According to The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, nurses are key to a better-integrated, patient-centered healthcare system. They are necessary in an assortment of roles, such as advising on healthcare policy, solving problems, and utilizing and building technology. These roles require an aptitude to lead and manage.

Effective Communication

Good Communication is crucial to patient care, and it includes an aptitude for listening as well as speaking. New nursing roles require effective dialog with a number of stakeholders, including other healthcare professionals, community leaders, legislators and diverse patient populations.

Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking and Nursing suggests critical thinking — prioritizing and making decisions — is at the center of good nursing. For instance, the IOM calls for nurses who can identify areas of waste, implement improvement plans and make necessary adjustments to achieve these goals. Understanding the different components as they relate to the bigger picture is important for success in this area.


The IOM also suggests that nurses should act as full partners with physicians and other healthcare providers. In the hospital environment, nurses are moving beyond delivering bedside care; they are accepting roles involving education, integrating medical technology and serving on advisory committees. These newer roles require collaboration with other stakeholders.

How Nurses Can Continue to Learn and Grow

One of the IOM‘s recommendations is that nurses should pursue additional education and training. In a rapidly changing healthcare system, it is essential to continually learn, grow and adapt. There are a number of options for keeping up with developments in the field.

Pursue Higher Education

Completing an RN to BSN program is a pivotal first step in developing the enhanced qualities that nurses need. According to DiscoverNursing, BSN-prepared nurses often become leaders and assume roles with more responsibility. A BSN can lead to learning opportunities that might otherwise be inaccessible, and it prepares nurses for further study, such as a graduate degree.

Keep Up With Current Nursing Literature

Reading key nursing books and journals is a good way to keep up with recent developments. Ask colleagues, your instructors and other students for their recommendations.

Donate Time

Volunteering exposes you to new situations and lets you test-drive new skills. The Leadership Center at the University of Texas at Arlington maintains a database of volunteer opportunities for its students.

Join Professional Organizations

Professional nursing organizations can be great resources for pertinent news, continuing education courses and networking with other nursing professionals. A quick web search can provide a comprehensive list of professional nursing associations.

To develop and maintain strong critical thinking skills, leadership skills, as well as effective communication and collaboration skills, nurses must continue to learn, grow and adapt. Completing an RN to BSN degree online is an excellent way to begin reaching this goal.

Learn about the UTA’s online RN to BSN program.


Front Matter. (n.d.). The National Academies Press

The Value of Critical Thinking in Nursing + Examples. (n.d.). Nurse Journal

The Future of Nursing: Focus on Education. (2011, January 26). The National Academies of Sciences

Find Your Path In Nursing. (n.d.). Discover Nursing

The Leadership Center. (n.d.). University of Texas at Arlington

Critical Thinking and Nursing. (n.d.). The Critical Thinking Community

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