What Interpersonal Skills Are Needed for Becoming a Nurse?

Updated April 17, 2017

Nurses not only work with doctors and other medical professionals, but they are often the first point of contact for patients and their families. Nurses work with patients on an intimate basis, and good interpersonal skills are required for the job. Many times nurses have to interact with others who are under stress, not feeling well or who may be difficult to care for. With the right communication arsenal, nurses can help ease those stressful situations.


Aside from medical knowledge, the most important skill a nurse can possess is the ability to really listen to a patient or their family member. Often times a person who is in need of medical attention won't have the medical knowledge to explain exactly what their symptoms are. However, a good listener can pick up on verbal cues and effectively determine what a patient needs by what he or she is describing. Good listening skills can lead to a more accurate diagnosis.


While listening, nurses need to be patient. Although you might think you already know what is wrong with your charge, they may say something that will surprise you or lead you in another direction entirely. Also, a family member who is asking a lot of questions may be doing so because they are worried about something critical to the patients needs. Patience is a highly valued skill in nursing, because often times a life may depend on your ability to really be able to stick with a situation and hear people out.

Verbal communication

Strong verbal communication skills are a must in nursing. Your ability to take what a fellow employee or patient tells you and regurgitate that information to the necessary parties is paramount. Also, your verbal skills may come into play during a high-stress situation where communication is the key to saving a life. You need to able to tell the doctor about what ails your patient and relate any care information to the patient and his or her family.

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About the Author

Laura Carroll is a writer based in Las Vegas. Since 2004, her work has appeared in the “Las Vegas Business Press,” “View Neighborhood Newspapers” and “Las Vegas Review-Journal.” She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and is studying Spanish.