Whether or not you are a nurse or hoping to become one, you may ask this question: Am I cut out for nursing? Or, would I make a good nurse? You are not alone in asking this question. I sometimes ask myself the same thing!
It is common as a new nurse or after a particullarly hard day to wonder if you are cut out to be a nurse. It is easy to question our abilities and our decision to become a nurse because of how hard the job can be. Many nurses say that they would have changed their mind if they really knew what they were getting into. This is why I am writing this post.
While there are a lot of skills and attributes that I think are helpful to have in order to make you a good nurse, there are some that are more important than others. Most can be learned over time, a few must be apart of you. Here is a list that I came up with and I will also link a couple of other sites that offer quizzes that you can take.
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that nursing is a difficult career. Medical/surgical or “floor nursing” is probably the most difficult. Every day is full of challenges big and small. Sometimes a solution is hard to come by or takes a lot of work to accomplish. Sometimes patients are very sick and require lots of attention. Some are mean or confused and combative.
You will make it through these tough times but you’ve got to push through. Our patient’s health and well being often depend on it. You can’t just give up when it gets hard. It is important to keep going and finding a solution to whatever problem is at hand.
You like people(mostly) and want to help them
Nursing is all about helping people. Helping them heal. Helping them learn how to take care of themselves. While reading some other posts about what you need to be a nurse, they often say you can’t be an introvert. I don’t think this is true. I call myself an introvert and am also shy. But I still make an ok nurse. Yes, it is hard, but I can do it and I enjoy it for the most part. I think it is important to like to work with people though. If you would rather be by yourself all day, nursing will be hard. There are lots of people to deal with. Patients, family members, co-workers, doctors, other hospital workers, etc. etc.
Good organizational and prioritization skills:
You need to know which task is most important and which is not as important. Some tasks take a while, while others are short. Some can be delegated while others cannot. All of these things have to be taken into account when you are planning your next task. The well being of your patients often depends on this. Spending too much time doing any one task can also interfere with the care that your other patients need. It also may mean that you will never be done with all of your tasks and charting by the end of the day.
Observation and assessment skills
It is important to be observant as a nurse. To notice when details about your patient that are important. And to ask them good questions to get to know them and understand their perspective.
Assessing your patient at the start of your day is so important. This is where you establish a baseline. That way when things change later on in the shift you can pick up on it quickly and act accordingly.
Ability to deal with bodily fluids
Not only is nursing hard, nursing is messy. You will have to clean people up. You will see blood, urine, vomit, and poop. Way more than you ever thought. This was hard for me at first. I highly recommend becoming a CNA first. This gives you lots of experience cleaning up people messes. It helps you to know if you can handle it or not. It helped me adjust to this new world.
When you are a new nurse it can be hard to have confidence because there is so much to know and you don’t seem to know much even after 2-3 years of nursing school. While you don’t have to appear to know it all, your patients still need you to be confident in your decisions. If you don’t know something you need to know who to ask. There is always someone around you that has more experience that you can learn from.
Confidence is something that grows over time. The more we do a particular task or have a certain event happen, the more confident we become.
You will meet lots of interesting people as a nurse. You meet some of the nicest people around. But you will also meet some of the meanest, self-centered, rude, entitled people as well. People will say extremely rude things to you sometimes. It is so important to not let these things get to you. It is also important to not overreact to certain situations. You don’t want to scare your patients if you can help it.
Over time I have acquired what I would call “resting nurse face”. Even if you are freaking out on the inside, your facial expression needs to remain calm. I am a nervous laugher too. People say some crazy things sometimes but it is important to remain professional even if what they say is slightly ridiculous.
Compassion and empathy
While I may not be super organized, or have a super memory, I do have compassion. I think that this is The most important quality that a future or current nurse must have. Your attitude sets the tone for your day. We recently had some very difficult patients on our floor. It was hard coming into work knowing that these patients would still be there. Being compassionate and changing your perspective on why a patient may be the way they are is so important. It is easy to be negative and angry about the hard things you have to deal with, but it only hurts you and your ability to do your job. I try to look for the good in every person. This helps me meet the patient on their level and hopefully meet their needs. As nurses, we are responsible for the total care of the patient, not just their medical treatments.
Still not sure?
All of these attributes are just my opinion on what is important to have as a nurse. If you want some other opinions Scrubs magazine and Registered Nurse RN have some quizzes you can take.
Scrubs Magazine: Do you have what it takes to become a nurse?
Registered Nurse RN: Would I make a good nurse?
Nursing is Versatile
The great things about nursing is that there are so many options within the career. You don’t have to be a floor nurse forever. And there are many different specialties as well. You can work in a clinic or in the community. Or as a case manager. Or if you like computers: nurse informatics. There are seriously endless options.
So it’s ok if you’re not cut out for floor nursing, you could be cut out for another type of nurse profession. What is most important is that you want to help people. That you like working with people. If you don’t like people, nursing may not be for you. I still think that a nursing degree is a great degree to have though. Even if you change your mind later. You get a great foundation of health topics and information about the human body. It is definitely helpful in my everyday life to know the things I know, not just at my job. I highly recommend getting a nursing degree!
For more on why I became a nurse, see this post: