Qualifications and Skills That Nurses Need to Succeed

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Nursing is one of the most caring and rewarding career paths worldwide. Not only does it offer professionals the chance to work in a career that allows them to make a real difference to the lives of the people that they interact with on a daily basis, but nursing is also a career choice that is highly rewarding in terms of potential earnings, career progression and advancement, job satisfaction and security. It’s no surprise that an increasing number of people are considering pursuing a career in nursing. 

Nurses are crucial to good healthcare, and over the years, an aging population has led to a situation where good nurses are in higher demand than ever before. Over the last year, the global COVID19 crisis has highlighted just how important nurses are to the world as a whole. If you are a caring person who wants a career where you can be there for others and make an impact with the work that you do, nursing could be a good fit for you. But are you a good fit for a career in nursing? Let’s take a look at the qualifications and skills that nurses will need to succeed. 

Associate’s Degree in Nursing:

You can get started in this career with an associate’s degree in nursing. However, this degree program is no longer as popular as it once was since more and more employers are hoping to gain Magnet status by employing nurses who have at least a BSN (bachelor’s degree in nursing). With an ADN, you can become a licensed practical nurse or in some cases, a registered nurse. Depending on the state where you plan to practice nursing, you may be required to upgrade your credentials to a BSN within a certain amount of time. For example, in New York State, the BSN-in-10 rule requires all nurses to have gained a BSN within ten years of starting in the profession if they do not already hold this qualification. There’s a wide range of options available for those who want to get an ADN including community college classes, nursing school classes, and online classes. 

Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing:

An increasing number of healthcare employers are looking to improve their status and provide a better standard of care by requiring a greater number of nurse employees to hold a BSN. This degree program is often the best way to get into nursing and you do not need to have any previous nursing qualifications in order to enroll. BSN degree programs will typically take around four years to complete, although there are part-time options available for students who will benefit from this. With the BSN becoming the most popular option for aspiring nurses looking to get into this profession, there are several study options available to choose from including online BSN programs that are growing in popularity. An online BSN will qualify you to work as a registered nurse while allowing you to attend classes and conduct a lot of the necessary work online rather than attending in-person lectures. This makes it an ideal choice of degree program for career changers and nursing students who have other commitments to uphold throughout their degree studies. 

Accelerated BSN:

If you already have a bachelor’s degree in a different subject but have realized that nursing is your calling, you can change careers faster with an ABSN degree program. These degree programs are designed for individuals that already have a bachelor’s qualification in a different subject to nursing and want to build on the knowledge that they already have to change their career to become a nurse. They are the ideal choice for current healthcare professionals with a different qualification, but you can get an ABSN with a bachelor’s degree in any subject. They are a fast-paced, intensive degree program choice that will allow you to gain your BSN in half the traditional time, making it easier and cheaper for you to get into the nursing profession after deciding that your past career choice isn’t right for you. 

Advanced Nursing Degree Options:

Once you have gained a BSN, you will have the opportunity to study for a range of advanced nursing degree programs that will allow you to work in more advanced nursing practice roles. For example, if you desire to become a nurse practitioner in the future, you will usually be required to hold at least a master’s degree in nursing. A master’s degree in nursing is usually also the minimum qualification required for nurse managers and executives, nurse educators, and other advanced career options. Aspiring nurse practitioners can also take advantage of further advanced learning programs after getting an MSN, such as the Texas Womans University’s Post-Master’s Certificate – FNP Online Program to prepare nurses to become a family nurse practitioner. Visit the Texas Womans University website for more information. 

For those looking to attain the highest level of qualification available to nurses, there is the doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree program. This qualification might be required for nurses who aspire to work in the highest levels of nurse management or want to teach nursing to the next generation of professionals as a lecturer at a nursing school or college. With this qualification, you are set for a wide range of advanced nursing roles whether you want to lead and manage the direct care of patients in clinical settings or move into a role that is more administrative and behind the scenes. DNP students might also go on to become advanced nurse-midwives, nurse informaticists, and more. DNP programs are available in both practice and research-based settings, with several options for advanced student nurses to choose from based on their future career aspirations. The program will usually take around three to five years to complete and you can choose from full-time, part-time, online, classroom-based, and blended study options. 

Skills You Need to Succeed in Nursing:

Along with the professional education that is required in order to become a successful nurse, you will also need to develop a range of important skills that will help you get far in this career. Many of the nursing-specific skills that you’ll need will be taught throughout your nursing degree, however, being a successful nurse requires a range of skills and qualities that might come more naturally to some people compared to others. Some of the key skills that are required for a successful career in the nursing profession include:


As a nurse, it’s imperative that you are able to see things from your patients’ point of view and put yourself in their shoes. In this career, you might often find yourself in a situation where you are treating patients who are going through some of the worst and most terrifying times of their lives. Even if you have never personally been in their situation, it is important that you are able to imagine how they might be feeling and treat them accordingly. Having empathy for your patients is crucial when you are dealing with people who might not be acting as well-behaved as usual due to fear or pain. You might be working directly with people who have suffered life-changing injuries or are receiving a serious diagnosis that will change their life as they know it. Your empathy and kindness are essential to helping your patients feel heard, seen, and supported. 


Being a good nurse is all about good communication. Whether you are listening to others or getting your point across, communication skills are something that no nurse could possibly go without. As a nurse, you will be regularly communicating with other members of the healthcare team to update them on patient progress and care plans, and it’s absolutely imperative that you are able to get this information across in a way that it can be clearly and easily understood to avoid patient care mistakes that could have disastrous consequences. In addition, you may also be responsible for showing and telling patients how to care for themselves after a visit to the clinic or hospital; once again being able to get the information across in a way that is clear and easy to understand will ensure that these patients are able to recover well. Listening skills are also crucial as a nurse; you will be spending a lot of time listening to your patients and using the information that they provide you with to ensure that they get the best possible standards of care. Finally, nurses are often working directly with people who are frightened and in pain, which could impact their ability to communicate well. Therefore, becoming skilled at interpreting various forms of non-verbal communication is absolutely essential to success as a nurse. 

Critical Thinking:

Being able to think quickly in a range of situations is essential to working as a successful nurse. Nurses will often find themselves at the center of crisis situations and will need to be able to keep a level head, think critically, and make the best decisions on behalf of their patients even when it seems like everything is going wrong around them. Anything could happen at any moment in your career as a nurse, and you need to be able to think clearly and critically under pressure no matter what is going on. If a patient’s vital signs suddenly change out of the blue or a patient is rushed into the hospital in a critical condition, nurses need to be able to act quickly and swiftly adapt to the changing situation. 

Organization and Attention to Detail:

As a nurse, even the smallest of potential errors that you make could have disastrous results for your patients. Accidentally writing a different digit on a patient’s chart for medication, for example, could be an easy mistake to make but lead to huge complications for the patient who may end up getting not enough or too much medication as a result. Because of this, good nurses know that there is no room for the usual scope of human error in their job. They need to be extremely organized and pay a lot of attention to even the smallest of details to ensure that each and every patient receives the highest standards of care. 

Physical and Mental Strength:

Nursing is not a career for the faint-hearted and those who succeed in this position will often possess a huge amount of physical and mental strength. The job can be hugely physically demanding as nurses are often required to spend a lot of time on their feet each day and dealing with patients who might be going through some of the toughest times of their lives can also take a toll on a nurse’s mental health. Because of this, it is important for nurses to be committed to looking after themselves just as much as they are committed to looking after their patients. Nurses need to regularly work towards keeping themselves strong in every way in order to continue succeeding in this career choice. 

Eagerness to Learn:

Last but not least, nursing is a profession that is subject to a lot of change with new healthcare technologies and techniques being introduced on a regular basis. As improvements to the healthcare system are made all the time, nurses need to be dedicated to continuously learning new things in order to ensure that their knowledge is current and up to date. Nurses are regularly tested on their knowledge to ensure that they are staying up to date with the latest developments in this career path. From learning about new treatments for diseases to machinery that is used to facilitate patient care, nurses will often find that a lot of things change over time, and they have to be up for a new challenge on a regular basis. No matter what area of nursing you decide to work in, there is always going to be something new for you to learn and master at every level. 

The current nursing shortage has led to more encouragement for caring and empathetic people to get into nursing. Understanding the qualifications and skills required is essential for anybody considering this rewarding career path.


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