Is Nursing Really For You? 5 Crucial Characteristics of a Skillful Nurse

Written by: Colea Owens MBA, BSN, RN


If you're thinking of becoming a nurse, Congrats! You’ve decided to embark on a selfless and noble profession. But be forewarned, the expectations are higher than most people would think. Long gone are the days where a nurses’ job was simply to keep water pitchers filled, rooms cleaned and patients bathed. Complex medical needs coupled with rising healthcare cost has challenged nurses to wear the role of many hats. Because black nurses are minorities in healthcare, we have the disadvantage of lack of resources and information presented to us prior to embarking on the career. With more information, we can make prepare better and make more informed career choices. The Black Girl Blue Scrubs Community has provided you with the top 5 characteristics of a skillful nurse.

Here's an inside look at becoming a nurse and what it takes to survive the profession

Hard work. Nursing requires endurance and hard work. From long 3-4 hour classes during the day and additional nights spent studying in nursing school to 12 hour shifts at the hospital. If you thought about nursing because of the money-- think again. Although nursing provides great job security, many nurses will tell you we don’t get paid enough. Often times the work of a nurse goes unrecognized and for that you have to have a deeper reason to endure the day to day in the profession.

Going hours without a break to eat or go to the bathroom requires time management and prioritization skills. Managing several medical issues at once means staying focused and organized, while teamwork is crucial to recognizing you can't always do it alone. Communication is key to keeping everyone on board informed. Nursing brings out the best in us, but only if we accept the challenge. How hard are you willing to work to ensure the care of others?

Critical thinking. One of the very first skills we are taught in nursing school and the most crucial is Critical Thinking. Critical thinking skills are what weed those interested in nursing from those who become skillful successful nurses. While you may be used to memorizing information and regurgitating data for an exam, critical thinking in nursing requires reflective, open minded systematic thinking and reasoning to apply what you have learned to managing a patients care. Critical Thinking is important because it used to ensure safe nursing practice and quality of care.

It's one thing to memorize and recognize a symptom or illness from the book, but can you translate that information into a well thought out resolution that will save a patients’ life or prevent further harm? Critical thinking is an art of the wise. Probably why nurses are so wise beyond their years.

Patience. Working with people requires patience (Ha PATIENTS!). The nurse is the central hub for all patient care and concerns. The average nurse can expect to be responsible for anywhere between 2-6 patients a shift depending on the specialty. Take into account each patient has visitors and family members who has needs that are part of the process of care and cannot be neglected, then you are easily considering concerns of 12 or more people in a day. You think that’s all?

Hospital care is TEAMWORK. Which means the doctor, pharmacist, nurse aide, dietician, physical therapist, speech therapist and other disciplines also have daily input on the patient’s care. And you know who manages all of their input? You got it- THE NURSE. Have you developed patience and tolerance when working with people? If not I suggest you gain some introductory experience in patient care prior to deciding on a career in nursing.

Unbiased. In a world filled with criticism and judgment it is our jobs as nurses to remain unbiased while caring for our patients. This is an important skill as sometimes the community we care for can be murderers, drug users, abusers or have practices and beliefs that aren’t congruent with our own. Remaining unbiased means recognizing how a patient chooses to live their life does not not effect to what extent they deserve to be cared for. We maintain a high standard of care, even when the biases are towards us as Black and Minority Nurses. Despite their race, ethnicity or life practices, we care for everyone with cultural sensitivity and love.  Are you ready to put your pride and beliefs aside to do so?

Positive Attitude. Coke and a smile anyone? As much as we hate to say it, healthcare has transformed into a customer service based industry. If you didn’t think our jobs were a lot before, with the Affordable care act on its way out- who knows what standards healthcare will place on Nurses next. Currently, there are standard measures that the government uses to decided how well a patient was cared for. Patients fill out a survey after their hospital stay and depending on how they rate the hospital in each category, determines how much money the hospital can retain for caring for that patient. This is a BIG motivation to provide quality (customer service based) healthcare. 

So What does that have to do with NURSES? Well several of those survey questions are related to care that nurses are responsible for. Was your call light answered fast enough? Did the nurse explain everything to you? With the constraints of multitasking, while caring for several people at once,  this means putting on a super woman (or man) cape to meet these seemingly unrealistic expectations. Why do we still do it? Because hospitals are counting on you as the nurse to set the positive tone.  And if none of that motivated you to keep a positive attitude- just remember, Patients are uncomfortable and sick. No one wants a Mrs. Trunchbull caring for them. So smile- it's contagious. 


Black Girl Blue Scrubs is dedicated to empowering Minority Nurses to find their purpose and advance in healthcare. Want to learn more about becoming a Nurse? Subscribe to receive our monthly newsletter & Follow us @BlackGirlBlueScrubs for more tips and information on Nursing! 

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