The Good Nurses: Qualities of A Good Nurse

by | Oct 20, 2020 | New Nurse | 6 comments

What are the qualities of a good nurse? You need to be empathetic, hard-working, and so much more. Read the complete list.

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The Good Nurses: Qualities of A Good Nurse

Qualities Of A Good Nurse

I’ve been very blessed in my short career as a nurse. I have worked at some amazing hospitals, and have had some even more astounding coworkers. I’ve worked in various areas of different hospitals, and through that, I think I have discovered what it means to be a good nurse.  

There is something about a good nurse.  Having a nursing license and job doesn’t make you a good nurse. Working for 30 years doesn’t make you a good nurse. It’s not about being a good IV starter or being best friends with all of the physicians.

It’s so much less defined and measurable than that. It isn’t measured in letters after your name, certifications, professional affiliations, or by climbing the clinical ladder.

It might be tough to describe, but I think these qualities of a good nurse are pretty close.

1. Qualities of a Good Nurse: Protective

It’s something you feel when you see a good nurse care for their patients.  It’s that security you see in their patient’s eyes when they come in to care for them.  It’s that nurse whose patient’s family member will finally go home to sleep and shower because they know their loved one is cared for with that nurse.

2. A Good Nurse Is Discerning

Good nurses breathe instinct.  They breathe discernment.  Good nurses can pick out seemingly insignificant things about a patient, interpret an intricate clinical picture, somehow predict a poor outcome, and bring it to the doctor’s attention, literally saving someone’s life.

3. A Good Nurse Is Empathetic

And then there’s that heart knowledge that good nurses have that blows me away even more.

There are those nurses that always know the right thing to say.  They know how to calm an apprehensive and scared mother enough to let them take care of her son.

4. A Good Nurse Knows How To Communicate

They know how to re-explain the worst news a husband is ever going to hear because it didn’t quite make sense when the doctor said it 15 minutes ago.  And they know how to comfort and reassure him when they see it click in his mind that his wife is forever gone.

5. Qualities of a Good Nurse: Knows How To Listen

They know when to just sit and listen to a man tell his entire life story, who just learned that he’s essentially dying slowly.  They know how to make him feel important, valued, and cared for.  They know that is now their priority, not charting the assessment they just did on their last patient, or seeing if their coworker needs to go to lunch.

They’re the nurses whose instincts all of the doctors trust.

6. A Good Nurse Encourages Teamwork

They know how to make coworkers who hate each other, work together.

They know when they need to have a come to Jesus meeting when someone is in denial about the severity of the decisions they’re making that are literally killing them.  And they listen.

7. A Good Nurse Is Honest

They are the ones with whom patients, families, and coworkers feel comfortable being painfully and embarrassingly honest.

They also know, when things start going downhill, how to quickly grab control of a room full of frantic people.  They know how to convey urgency, not terror.  They somehow make you feel safe when someone’s life is literally a breath away.

Those nurses are my heroes.  They’re who I aspire to be every time I put my badge on in the morning.  They’re who I hope I have been when I clock out.  They’re the good nurses.


Read more

In my book, Becoming Nursey, I dive deep into what I believe it means to be a good nurse.

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Hi, I’m Kati.

Kati Kleber, MSN RN is a nurse educator, author, national speaker, host of the FreshRN® Podcast, and owner of FreshRN® – an online platform created to educate, encourage, and motivate newly licensed nurses in innovative ways.

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  1. Tammy Colatruglio

    Kati ,
    I am the director of an AAS -RN nursing program , I would like permission to share your post in my address to my graduates at their Pinning Ceremony .
    Are you ok with this ? I think your comments are very impactful and I’d like to send my graduates into practice understanding the a real depiction of a good nurse and the difference we make in the lives of our patients , families , and communities .

    • Kati Kleber

      Tammy, absolutely, feel free to share. I always ask for credit either in the address or in some printed material.

      • Tammy Colatruglio

        Kati ,
        Thank you and of course I will include your name and how I stumbled upon your post . It’s interesting that you spell your name Kati , that is how my daughter’s name is spelled and it is an unusual spelling for the name .
        I appreciate your sharing and will gladly cite you as the source of your post .

        • Kati Kleber

          Wow! I think I’ve only met one other person who spelled their name the same. How wonderful 🙂

        • Kati Kleber

          Also, I am honored to be included in a pinning ceremony – I remember mine fondly and it was really important to me. Thank you again.

  2. Deb E

    Yes, honesty is a good one. I’ve seen clinical instructors not be good at conveying urgency, not terror, as you noted. I’m glad I’ve had some experience from another job field to call on when things go south and a cool head is needed. You have to work at it though and keep learning and practicing.


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