How To Be A Good Nurse

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  • 16 Dec, 2021  |
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1 How To Be A Good Nurse

Have you ever come into contact with a nurse in any setting? Maybe you were sick and needed help, or perhaps you went to visit a loved one who had to stay in hospital. What were those nurses like? Although the majority of them will be extremely kind and very helpful, they will all be different – they will all work differently. Perhaps you didn’t notice it at the time, but the fact is that some nurses are simply better than others because they complete their certification. Some nurses are good at what they do, and others are just going through the motions.

If you are thinking of becoming a nurse and, or you are already a nurse, and you want to progress your career or make some changes to the way you work, it’s important to understand how to be a good nurse and what makes a nurse good (or even great) as opposed to just someone doing their job. Read on to find out more about what you can do to ensure you are a good nurse and that your patients – and to some extent, your colleagues – benefit.


Every nurse has to learn a lot before they can be qualified and able to work with patients. This includes a lot of technical information and clinical knowledge, but there are other skills involved as well, such as how to speak to patients, how to understand what is being asked of you, and how to be as helpful as possible. Much of this information will be learned through your nursing degree course, and as you continue to learn – something, all good nurses will need to do – and perhaps even study for an online DNP program later on in your career, you’ll gather more and more knowledge.

However, there are some things that you need to be and do if you intend to be a good nurse, and these include:

• Being able to assess patients accurately
• Having excellent knowledge of the human body
• Being able to think on your feet
• Having a good level of critical thinking
• Having excellent communication skills
• Knowing how the patient is feeling – being empathetic, in other words

It’s often hard to combine all the different elements of being a good nurse together, which is why, even if you love what you do, you will need to work hard to be the best you can be – it won’t always come naturally to you.


Nursing is about a lot more than simply understanding medical issues and treating them. Dressing wounds and providing the right kind of medicine to heal someone is certainly one part of nursing, and it’s a very important part, of course, but it’s not everything, and if you only do this, then you won’t ever be considered a good nurse, no matter how much knowledge you actually have or how quickly you can make a patient feel better.

To be a good nurse, you need to have a high level of compassion as well as everything else. The reason this is a separate category in this article compared to other useful personality traits that we might have mentioned above is that compassion is something you can’t really learn – you’re either a compassionate person, or you’re not. You can either feel empathetic and sympathetic towards someone’s predicament, or you simply get on with your work and don’t feel anything much at all.

Neither is right or wrong because this is your personality, and it is what it is. However, if you do have compassion for others, or you know you can learn to be more passionate (a difficult task, as we’ve said), then you can be a good nurse who does more than ‘just’ the technical elements.


All patients deserve respect. They are unwell, they need help, and they don’t want any judgment, no matter what might be wrong with them or what their background is. Everyone gets sick, and everyone deserves the same kind of assistance. As a nurse, you need to offer that respect, and even if you are being treated unfairly, you still need to be as good as possible to the patient.

Sometimes, the patient will be embarrassed and may take their shame and frustration out on those around them. Although this is not right, it is understandable, and good nurse will continue to respect their patients no matter what happens. This respect could even save lives. Imagine if a patient were unable to speak to a doctor because they were embarrassed about some of their symptoms. If you respect the patient and show them this, they will be more likely to open up to you, and you can pass this crucial information on to the doctor who will be better equipped to make the right diagnosis.

Staying Calm Under Pressure

Something that can often be underestimated if you want to be a good nurse, but that is actually incredibly important is the ability to stay calm under pressure. If you can remain calm and level-headed no matter what is happening around you, this will enable you to see the entire situation and not just the immediate panic. In this way, you can adjust your thinking, come up with a plan that will work, and help the patient in the best possible way. Or you can follow instructions without having to ask for more information. In either case, having a calm head and being able to think past the immediate issue is hugely important.

This is not an easy thing to do, however. For a nurse, the best way to stay calm is to have plenty of experience. This will allow you to know exactly what to do in every situation and to have the confidence to do it. When you have this confidence, you won’t have to stop and think about whether you’re doing the right thing in any given situation; you’ll know you are. You’ll be calm and helpful and do your job to the best of your abilities, making you a good nurse all around.

Be Good With Details

Some people look at the big picture, and others look at the small details. When you’re a nurse, it’s the details that count, and you must be detail-oriented to ensure that you don’t miss anything important. If you’re not an observant kind of person, it will be hard for you to be a good nurse – although not impossible, of course.

Being able to focus and concentrate solely on what you’re doing without being distracted is an important element of understanding the details well. When you can do this, you will be meticulous, able to check everything quickly and accurately, and therefore do a great job.

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