7 Must-Have Soft Skills for Every Exceptional Nurse

There are about 5.13 million registered nurses in the United States and over 900 thousand registered PNs. Nursing is a growing industry, and it can become hard to stand out when there are many other applicants going for the same opportunities. As a staffing agency, we discover applicants’ hard skills through their resumes, by seeing their performance level in a skills checklist, and seeing proof of certifications and other credits.

Every applicant showcases their hard work and dedication to their field, proving they are the best person for the job. A nurse can have all the qualifications a client is looking for, but without soft skills, like any job, any candidate can risk losing out on a job opportunity. According to Indeed, “some employers may even prefer candidates with a stronger set of soft skills as hard skills are often easier to teach through on-the-job training.” Here are some soft skills that are essential in the nursing field:

1. Communication Skills

A big part of a nurse’s job is to communicate with others, whether that’s other nurses, physicians, patients, and families. A person with good communication skills is articulate in their speech, has good listening skills, and can understand and empathize with the speaker.

soft skills for nurse

2. Trustworthiness and Discretion

Nurses handle patients who are scared, confused, disoriented, or anxious. It’s important for them to be able to put the patient at ease and build trust to help the patient get the treatment they need. Nurses are entrusted with each patient’s personal medical information and must abide by HIPAA guidelines. A good nurse knows information shouldn’t be shared outside of the healthcare workers directly assisting the patient and those with permission to know that information.

3. Open to Learning

In a field where there are new developments in technology and scientific discoveries, healthcare workers should be able to adapt to new information. A procedure that worked ten years ago may not be the most effective or efficient way to perform it. It’s a nurse’s responsibility to ask questions in the work place, as well as stay up-to-date with their continuing education credits.

4. Critical Thinking

Nurses gain a lot of knowledge when earning their license and through their experience; however, how a nurse applies that knowledge is really important—especially when it comes to thinking quickly on their feet. Situations change on a case-to-case basis, and not every patient will be the same. When a problem arises, a nurse with good critical thinking skills will be able to come up with a solution without much hesitation.

5. Reliability

A nurse who is reliable will always be a great asset to any team. They show up to work, are there for their teammates, help out when someone can’t make it in, and they always do their jobs well. Of course, the world isn’t perfect and there will be times when personal matters will take priority—no one is expected to sacrifice everything for their job.

6. Organization and Attention to Detail

A nurse’s job can get overwhelming if they don’t have good organizational skills or attention to detail. Being able to successfully prioritize tasks, manage how much time is spent on each task, and delegate how their teammates do their jobs can help create an efficient work environment and reduce stress.

7. Open-Mindedness and Empathy

Nurses treat many patients during their careers, so it can become an issue if they forget to treat a patient as a person. These patients come from different cultural, religious, economic, and social backgrounds, so being open-minded and empathic will make sure they are getting the proper care they need. A difference of opinions should not deny a person proper medical treatment.

Showcase Your Soft Skills

Soft skills revolve around a person’s character and can show an employer how well a candidate can work within the team and with patients. Medicine is an ever-changing industry, so developing and enhancing one’s soft skills can give an employee a serious advantage in the long run. Though soft skills can’t always be documented on paper, they can be recognized when speaking with recruiters, staffing coordinators, and credentialing specialists. How a person speaks with their employers, how their references vouch for them, and how clients will want to keep employing them is reflective of a strong, successful nurse.


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