What skills do I need to become a nurse?

Updated May 10, 2017

Nursing jobs pay well and, as the ageing population steadily grows, they are also in great supply. In addition to being plentiful, nursing jobs are diverse. Some nurses work in patients' homes while others run from gurney to gurney in emergency rooms. If you become part of the nursing field, you will be joining a group of professionals who are skilled in both compassion and science in order to help others.

Emotional Strength

A nurse needs to be able to empathise with the circumstances of patients and their loved ones, and be patient with people who are going through difficult times. A nurse also needs to be able to detach enough from these circumstances to be able to offer professional support. This professional support includes offering medical assistance as well as educating patients and/or their family members about conditions and treatments. Emergency-room and intensive-care nursing require the ability to empathise and detach simultaneously.

Communication Skills

Nurses need to be able to speak and listen well, as they are going to be in a position that requires communication with coworkers, patients, patients' families and doctors. Nurses must be able to listen to doctors' orders and carry them out without error. Bilingual nurses are in great demand.

Management Skills

Nurses are responsible for managing nurses' aides and sometimes other nurses. Some become head nurses and nurse supervisors, and they should be able to negotiate, lead others and perform administrative tasks.

Thinking Skills

Nurses must be intelligent and organised. They gather patients' medical histories and know how to ask the appropriate questions in order to make important medical decisions. They must also be able to handle multiple tasks at once without letting stress get in the way of their decision-making process. Math skills are especially important because nurses must work with complicated machines and dispense medications.

Observational Aptitude

Nurses must be able to pinpoint anything that is not normal. Behavioural anomalies and specific wounds in patients are a couple of issues a nurse should be able to notice. Nurses are the communication link between patients and doctors, and patients do not always notice their own symptoms. (Or, if they do notice a symptom, they may not think it is out of the ordinary.) Therefore, nurses must be especially observant in order to make sure that patients are examined thoroughly.

Physical Fitness

Nursing demands a lot of physical activity, including walking, lifting patients and moving medical equipment. Nurses often work together in order to handle physically demanding tasks, but emergencies do occur and a nurse needs to be able to take care of them alone. In addition, nursing shifts can be long (12 hours or more) and so they require that a nurse is properly rested and able to handle long periods of work.

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About the Author

Christa Miller is a writing professional with expertise in massage therapy and health. Miller attended San Francisco State University to earn a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing with a minor in journalism and went on to earn an Arizona massage therapy license.