Many would agree that nurses are the heroes of our generation—especially after watching frontline nurses put their lives on the line while treating patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. And while health care workers were seven times more likely to contract a severe form of COVID-19 compared to other non-essential workers, nurses persevered in the face of adversity and stayed close to their patients.
Bystanders could assume that nurses are natural caregivers and compassionate enough to sacrifice themselves for their patients. Yet, according to an editorial piece published in The Conversation, “labeling nurses as heroes is a harmful narrative,” and most nurses don’t want to be branded as saviors. Nurses are human and can experience compassion fatigue and burnout if they feel overworked and underappreciated. That being said, nurses have proven their dedication and bravery time and again.
Based on the profiles of outstanding nurses, we believe the following five qualities make a great nurse.
Ah, yes—compassion: It’s a great trait to possess, but not all individuals have it. According to the Compassionate Action Network, compassion can be defined as “a feeling when we are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering.” It almost goes without saying, therefore, that it’s essential that a nurse be compassionate by nature.
A compassionate nurse is empathetic. In other words, good nurses can stand bedside with a patient and genuinely empathize with their pain and suffering. Additionally, showing compassion as a nurse involves listening authentically and calming any doubts a patient may have. As a result of nurse compassion, patients feel less alone, and showing compassion may even speed up a resident’s recovery time.
When push comes to shove, compassion is an essential quality to possess while working as a nurse.
Perseverance & Stamina
Starting from the education required to become a registered nurse (RN), a career in nursing takes a tremendous amount of commitment and dedication. After graduation, a nurse may work long hours. A nurse is also expected to be punctual, mentally sharp, and ready to work in a high-pressure environment. Furthermore, a great nurse may boast strong physical stamina, as many RNs must be on their feet for up to 12-13 hours per shift. In summary, both emotional and physical perseverance are must-needed qualities to possess to make it as a nurse.
They say patience is a virtue. With that in mind, a nurse without patience is like an accountant who is bad at math; it just doesn’t add up. Considering that nurses may be expected to treat and monitor a patient’s health progress (which can take a while), it’s only logical that nurses should possess a great deal of
patience. Moreover, working at facilities requires nurses to work as a team—otherwise known as collaborative care coordination. Patience means listening to fellow nursing peers and taking steps back when needed. Nurses also need to stay calm under pressure while a patient’s treatment is being carried out. This quality can also include having patience with a sick resident’s family when difficult questions arise.
All things considered, having patience as a nurse is paramount in keeping communication fluid with colleagues and developing optimal care plans in order to achieve the most favorable patient outcome.
One of the key characteristics of a diligent nurse is paying attention to detail. A nurse’s ability to pay attention to the fine details can prevent medical errors. And if there is anything more important in medical practice, it’s to make sure preventable medical errors happen infrequently. Essentially, detail-oriented nurses create a safe environment for their patients and the medical team.
Sense of Humor
Perhaps possessing a great sense of humor isn’t listed as a criterion for becoming a registered nurse, but being able to laugh a little as a nurse can take some weight off of an otherwise serious role. That is to say, humor can be a powerful tool to prevent nurse burnout. In fact, one study shows that using humor in clinical settings can promote better health for nurses. Subsequently, having a sense of humor as a nurse can improve patient care. And while a nurse doesn’t need to be a stand-up comic to possess a great sense of humor, the ability to stay lighthearted while on shift can create a happier and healthier work environment.
“Nurses Are a Unique Kind.” ~ Jean Watson
Some say nurses are a different breed of humans. Maybe it’s because great nurses put their hearts in the line of service to provide the best possible care for their patients. Hardworking, compassionate, and brave—nurses deserve to be recognized.
Are you a nurse? What makes you a great nurse? We want to know, so join the conversation or leave a comment below.