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What makes a good nurse?


As a former nursing assistant and student nurse, I thought I knew...but now as a new grad nurse, I feel like all of that has changed! Of course, if you ask a patient, another nurse, or doctors, the answer would probably be different. So nurses, what do you think makes for a good nurse?

In my opinion, initially, compassion, safety and intelligence is key to being a good new nurse. You need to care about your pts, have a solid foundation in your chosen specialty and practice cautiously. After you get to know these basics, the ability to think ahead and see the whole picture will be key, but this does not come right away. I always tell new nurses to find a good nurse that you know you can come to and ask questions!! Never be afraid to ask- it could save a life! Being a new nurse can be scary, but it's awesome!! You'll learn so much!!


Specializes in TELEMETRY. Has 12 years experience.

I think what makes a good nurse it you willingness to be 1. flexible, 2. knowing that you DO NOT know everything, 3. willing to accept you made a mistake but willing to learn from them, 4. Empathy for people 5. sincere care for what you do and what you stand for as a NURSE

I agree with the two above responses. A good nurse not only looks at the whole picture, labs, dx etc but looks at the person, does a throrough nursing assessment by providing direct patient care. A true nurse realizes the importance of offering a patient the opportunity to brush their teeth or removes the "toe jam and umbilicus stones." in the elderly and realizes good direct, hands on patient care is still being a "good" nurse.

canesdukegirl, BSN, RN

Specializes in Trauma Surgery, Nursing Management. Has 14 years experience.

It is such a broad question to ask what makes a good nurse. It really depends on what drives the nurse. I am always hesitant to judge another person because I have no idea what dynamics that person carries with them daily. I can only speak for myself when answering this question in that I am:

1. Driven by what is best for the patient. Hands down, this is first in my book. From personal experience, I treat every single patient like they were my family. My mother's battle and subsequent death from cancer is what made me change careers and go into nursing.

2. Organized. My dad taught me early in life that the key to success is organization. It sounds so silly and elementary, but seriously...if you can't find it, you may as well not have it.

3. Attentive to every detail. These are people's lives that we are dealing with. There is no room for error. That being said...

4. A humbleness and a recognition that I make mistakes. The key is to admit it and to correct it. IMMEDIATELY, and without excuses.

5. A respect for co-workers. Even if they are downright mean and nasty. There is a reason WHY people are nasty. Something must have happened to a person to make them full of pi$$ and vinegar. I try to realize that and I don't take it personally. It is their problem, and I don't add to it, but rather find a way to work around it.

6. A realization that everything I do and everything I say can have a serious impact on someone. Whether it be a co-worker, doc, patient or visitor, I must represent myself as a nurse and the institution that I work for in a positive way. I may WANT to say negative things, but that only breeds more negativity. In the words of Gandhi, "Be the change you wish to see in the world."

7. Aware of my shortcomings and strive daily to overcome them. I take vacations, I vent here (I love this site!), I share my frustrations with my husband and I take ONE day out of the week to just chill and center myself. I can't very well take care of another if I don't take care of myself.

I want to be a "good nurse". I want to be able to impact everyone around me in a positive manner. I don't know if I will ever reach the goal line and spike the football, but I sure as heck know that I will use every single player on my team to make sure that my PATIENT reaches that goal line.

RedhairedNurse, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med Surg, Ortho.

What has made me a good nurse is having been on the other side of nursing for so many years while caring for a loved one. All the times we've been in and out of hospitals made me see the good and the bad. I've been there and done that. I treat my pts as I'd want my loved ones treated.