16 Skills Nurses Must Possess To Move Ahead In Their Careers

Although nursing can be a rewarding career, it is not for everyone. Becoming a registered nurse is a conscious decision.

Nurses will always be in demand. According to the BLS, the demand for RNs is expected to rise by 7% through 2029. This also includes nurse practitioners, midwives, and even anesthetists.

Nurses have intangible qualities that make them great. A prestigious organization quickly hires a nursing student with these skills. 

The following are the top sixteen skills nursing students should possess as they begin their careers. Are you able to check off all the qualities on your list? Let’s find out.

1. Genuine intentions

It seems natural for nurses to have good intentions. However, with extended hours under your belt, it is easy to become exhausted or burnt out, which can adversely affect your intentions.

Maintain a positive attitude at all times – your behavior significantly impacts your patients and can be crucial to your success, particularly if you are seeking administrative employment.

2. Primary Caregiving

If you want this skill, decide a career between AGACNP vs FNP in your initial years as a nurse.  Both professions allow you to go beyond basic nursing practices and act as a primary care provider.

Additionally, these professions deal with patients of all ages and work alongside doctors. They are capable of prescribing medications, ordering tests, and diagnosing patients.

This experience allows them to offer both primary care and urgent care services. With an increased demand for healthcare personnel, this factor makes both these professions high in demand. 

3. Excellent Communication Skills

Nursing involves constant communication with a variety of people. Nurses must possess practical communication skills with medical staff, patients, and their families.

It requires fostering strong working relationships with all professionals involved in healthcare, including doctors, nurses, and medical specialists.

Additionally, nurses must learn how to communicate with and support patients who are often distraught.

4. Be Confident

You might second-guess your decisions when you step into nursing, regardless of your grades in school. However, you must be confident and prepared for this job based on what you learned in nursing school. A positive attitude, independence, assertiveness, and passion for your work will help you excel.

5. A sense of how things fit together

Have you been paying attention in school? You’ve completed your tests, and now you’re all set to put what you’ve learned to practice.

Making informed decisions means asking the right questions and comprehensively understanding whatever you’ve learned.

6. The ability to think critically

Nursing success depends on observing, analyzing, and making good decisions. You might be adept at dressing wounds or giving IVs as a nurse.

However, you’ll struggle if you lack quick decision-making abilities under high-stress circumstances.

7. Ability to follow Gut

As a nurse, you should always listen to your intuition. Make sure you know your limits – take breaks when needed, and don’t overwork yourself if you have any doubts; you won’t be able to perform at your best.

Consider how your actions fit into your long-term strategy – today’s choices may influence your career prospects tomorrow.

8. Patient-centered care

Good bedside manners are one of a nurse’s most valuable skills at her disposal. It has the most significant impact on the experience of the patient or family.

Using patient-centered care as a framework improves an organization’s safety, employee satisfaction, and quality of service. 

Suppose you can make real connections with patients and their families and create a learning environment that keeps them informed, cared for, and safe.

In that case, you have an essential skill that increases morale and, in turn, the organization’s reputation.

9. Lifelong learning

A commitment to success in nursing requires constant practice, reflection, and learning.

10. Think like a nurse

Adapting to changing situations and thinking on the spot is essential to a successful nurse, but they also need critical thinking skills.

With 12-hour shifts, exposure to blood and bodily fluids, obsessive cleanliness, and juggling multiple tasks constantly, it’s hard not to think like a nurse.

11. Maintain good working relationships

It is expected that new nurses will be able to communicate effectively and work with colleagues from day one in an urgent care near me or other medical organizations.

Maintaining composure, respecting others, and remaining flexible is not a skill you can learn in a textbook or by studying. It is an intrinsic quality that you acquire over time.

12. Consider alternative viewpoints

There is nothing wrong with becoming emotionally invested in a patient’s case or feeling passionate about the best course of action or procedure.

However, it is necessary to keep an open mind to other ways of doing things and be open to taking advice. 

In most situations, treatment is not binary; we learn something from different situations if we accept the points of view of others.

13. Patient advocate

Nurses are responsible for advocating for their patients. You will often interact with the patient the most and be the person who debriefs the rest of the team or interprets tests, directions, and procedures for the patient.

14. Leadership aspirations

The best way to progress to upper management is by leading by example. If you have new or less experienced nurses under your charge, make every experience a teaching opportunity.

To earn the respect of the next generation of nurses and pass on good habits, you need to share your knowledge considerately.

15. Protecting the privacy of patients

Keeping their medical information private can be challenging when a patient has a complicated diagnosis.

Even in clinical settings, limit how much information you openly share. The patient’s legitimate expectation is that their private information will be handled with the greatest care and respect.

16. Compassion

Many people consider nursing to be their calling. For nurses to be able to help people experiencing life-changing medical situations, they must possess a great deal of compassion and sensitivity.

It is essential to have empathy and compassion towards patients, their families, and employees when in leadership roles.


So, could you check off all the skills from your checklist? Don’t worry if you’re not an expert at all of them.

The majority of these skills are honed and developed over time. However, if you have a basic understanding and practice of these qualities, you can be an invaluable asset at your workplace.

Photo by Klaus Nielsen