6 Personality Traits of Successful Nurses

Oct 11

In the United States alone, there are over 2.7 million registered nurses, from the NICU to the emergency room to the ICU they play a vital role in our lives and our healthcare system. So many of them work extremely hard to care so well for the patients they serve, and we are consistently amazed by their tenacity, loyalty and empathy. In an effort to celebrate the kind of people they are and to encourage students looking to find a career in nursing, we’ve gathered a few of our favorite personality traits of successful nurses.


Nurses interact with people all day with various illness, they often care for people who are overwhelmed, vulnerable, scared and frustrated. Great nurses approach their patients with a love and compassion for their pain, seeking to understand and show grace in the midst of getting their jobs done. Especially when the people they serve are ungrateful, unintentionally rude or just plain unpleasant to be around, having empathy is truly a discipline.

“Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.” -Daniel H. Pink


Overtime? Late shifts? Overnights? Double shifts? Flexibility is key to being a successful nurse. We all know that they get asked to do above and beyond their job description – and that’s hard to do with an inflexible personality. Not to mention the very nature of their jobs which is to adapt to the ever changing needs of their patients and the doctors and other professionals they work with every day. They are constantly adapting and changing for the needs of others.

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” ― Albert Einstein


Listening to every detail from patients and relaying that very specific information to the team can be one of the most important qualities in a nurse. In the medical world, every single step can have far-reaching consequences, awesome nurses follow the protocol and stick to the seemingly monotonous tasks no matter how detailed they get.

“The difference between mediocrity and excellence is attention to detail.” -Sebastian J. Barbarito


All of those details require a great deal of organization, nurses keep precise records and notes that are clear and understandable. And on top of keeping the data straight, they make sure each patient has exactly what they need at the exact right time. Nurses have to be some of the most organized people on the planet.

“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.” – Benjamin Franklin


Perhaps the most obvious trait, but everyone loves someone who can hold a conversation. Helping people feel known and at ease is a great quality for any nurse to have – it allows patients to feel more comfortable and helps everyone communicate most effectively.

“Being positive in a negative situation is not naive. It’s leadership.” -Ralph Marston

Emotionally Stable

Last, but certainly not least, being emotionally stable makes for an extremely successful nurse. Every day they get thrown into crazy situations, they interact with unstable, broken, sick people. Stable doesn’t exactly describe Being a nurse who can hold their emotions together no matter what gets thrown out them is an amazing trait.

“If our emotional stability is based on what other people do or don’t do, we actually have no stability.” -Marianne Williamson

You are the experts! Do you think these personality traits are essential for successful nurses? If you're looking to advance your career, learn how you can grow in your nursing job here.

Alyssa McNally