Personality Traits of a Great Nurse

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

Nursing is a career that provides constant challenges. Not only are its practitioners faced with new situations on a regular basis, but they have a responsibility to provide care for people who are often experiencing their most vulnerable, unpredictable states. Between the physical demands, the emotional moments, and the stress of thinking under high pressure situations, some personality traits, whether innate or developed through education and experience, are required for success in the nursing profession.

A Checklist of Nursing Personality Traits

In 2018, Everynurse.org listed the following list of personality traits with descriptions that nurses have identified as being required and valuable for success in their profession that is always asking more of them.

Compassion, described by one nurse as “where every patient is treated as you’d want your own mother cared for.”

Dedication to Nursing, which can mean “serving without seeking accolades” and ”the inner yearning to want to make a difference in the quality of life for another human being.”

Commitment to Patient Advocacy, which means “helping to bridge the gap between patients and their health care providers, nurse advocates strive to improve or maintain the quality of care that a patient receives.”

Patience with the conflicting demands of emergent care, legal and institutional policies, grief-stricken families, and never-ending customer service needs.

Willingness to Learn, because “Health care is constantly changing, and we must change with it.”

Anticipatory Focus, which is invaluable. The article shares that “Early identification and escalation of potential concerns can, at times, be the difference between life and death.”

Listening Skills for all involved parties—“Not only is it important for a nurse to listen to orders given by a physician, but to also pay attention to the verbal cues of patients, as well as the remarks of their relatives.”

Communication Ability is essential. For example, “Using a soft, polite voice makes patients feel at ease during appropriate times, whereas a firmer tone is necessary when explaining medication and discharge instructions.”

Critical Thinking requires that you “have to be a detective trying to figure out the cause and be mighty quick about it.” Often a situation requires snap judgment.

Time Management must be learned, because “In addition to tending to new patient arrivals… patient’s families often request updates and emotional support. This can take time away from a nurse managing patient care.”

Physical Endurance for when emergencies occur, like “being able to help lift a patient from bed to wheelchair.”

Leadership is important at every level—“effectively developing leadership skills allows a nurse to better steer patients towards wellness and away from sickness, guide new co-workers, and even lead physicians towards achieving a better understanding of their patients.”

Experience involves constantly learning. The article offers how “nurses build upon their experiences not only from receiving formal instruction but also from observing previous shifts working in similar situations, as well as from watching how older nurses carry and conduct themselves.”

Humility that allows a nurse to accept that he or she does not know everything and can constantly learn, even from patients.

Servanthood Orientation allows a nurse to “extend a hand of selflessness and servanthood to those who have, perhaps, treated us poorly in the past” (everynurse.org, 2018).

Not all nurses will have every one of these qualities. Patients, however, benefit when more than a few of these characteristics are present in the clinicians that serve them. Inherent personality traits can also serve to insulate nurses from some of the insidious challenges they face in their profession: disengagement and burnout.


Everynurse.org, “Is Nursing the Right Profession for You?,” October 20, 2018, Retrieved at https://everynurse.org/blog/is-nursing-right-for-you/.

Pérez-Fuentes, MC; Molero Jurado, MM; Martínez, AM; and Gázquez Linares, JJ; “Burnout and Engagement: Personality Profiles in Nursing Professionals,” Journal of Clinical Medicine, March 2019, Retrieved at https://www.mdpi.com/2077-0383/8/3/286/htm.