Ever wonder if you should become a nurse? Here's the good news: When it comes to job security, nurses have it made. The United States is currently in the middle of a nursing shortage—thanks in part to aging baby boomers retiring from nursing positions while simultaneously increasing the demand for nurses in retirement homes and other settings.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the registered nurse workforce will grow by 12 percent between 2018 and 2028, significantly faster than other occupations. If you’re looking for steady employment, nursing could be a great option—but are you cut out for the profession?

Nursing is not one size fits all. It requires a unique combination of qualities and strengths that enables you to care for patients in high-stress environments. Here are a few key qualities of good nurses:

1. Empathy and Compassion

The ability to relate to people and demonstrate compassion is crucial for nurses in just about every setting. Whether you end up working in labor and delivery, the ER, or a pediatrician’s office, you should genuinely care about the patients you serve. As you line up children’s shots or insert a patient’s IV, you should be able to put them at ease with a few words and your overall demeanor.

2. Energy and Stamina

It’s typical for nurses to work long hours and spend a lot of time on their feet. Good footwear goes a long way, but you still need to have the energy to be up and about—and mentally alert—for whatever your shift entails. 

However, not every nursing job requires 12-hour shifts (see: private physicians’ offices) and once you’re in a job, you may surprise yourself by how well you do on long days. It’s still a good idea to know your limits so you don’t angle for a specialization (intensive care, for example) that falls outside of your physical limitations. 

3. Resilience and Emotional Health

Nurses are in the room, up close with trauma, on a regular basis. Emotional burnout is a reality, though with healthy coping strategies, it can be avoided. If you’re emotionally healthy and resilient, you may be particularly suited to more difficult nursing settings, like the ER, ICU, or children’s cancer treatment. And, due to turnover, those settings may desperately need you.

Related: Are you suffering from compassion fatigue?

4. Detail-Oriented

Reading patient records, administering correct dosages, crossing the Ts and dotting the Is—if you’re working as a nurse, you need to sweat the small stuff. Make sure everything is done properly and on time so that patients get the best care possible and nothing is overlooked. You could say nurses provide quality control—in fact, quality assurance nursing is an entire field in its own right.

5. Science-Minded

If you failed high school biology, this might not be the best career for you. Nurses need to have a solid grasp of human biology and basic biochemistry. They might not be performing experiments, but they need to understand cause and effect as it relates to the human body and how the drugs and immunizations they administer support the health of their patients. This understanding can’t be just enough to pass an exam—it needs to be actively engaged in their daily nursing practice for years.

6. Interest in Continual Learning

Education isn’t once and done for nurses; it’s an ongoing part of the profession. After you earn your BSN or MSN, you’ll need to continue your education (how often varies by state) in order to maintain your skills and knowledge and keep up with the changing field of medicine. Completing your degree or earning a second degree through our programs is just the beginning of a lifetime of learning that will support you in caring for patients well.

7. Communication

Part of putting patients at ease (see #1) is clearly explaining to them what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. This ability to clearly communicate helps you get on the same page as your patients, and it also supports your collaboration with doctors and other medical personnel as you notice details that are falling through the cracks or recognize the hazards of the prescription cocktail given to a patient.

If reading these points was like reading a description of yourself, it might be time to start pursuing the education that will pave your way to a career in nursing. Whether you’re looking to level up from an associate’s degree to a BSN or finish your BSN and earn an MSN simultaneously, we have a program for you.

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