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What Do You Need to Become a Successful Nurse?

  • November 16, 2022
  • 10 min read
What Do You Need to Become a Successful Nurse?

Nursing is an incredibly challenging and under-appreciated profession. Nurses are important to all kinds of medical care, from giving routine injections to helping the recovery process after surgery. People decide to go into nursing for a whole variety of reasons, and some are more likely to succeed than others. There are certain qualities that a person must possess or work towards obtaining as well as official certifications, before they can expect success as a nurse. If you are curious whether or not you have what it takes to pursue a career in nursing, look at this detailed list of the qualifications, skills, and personality traits you will need.

What Types of Nurse Are There?

Before you learn what you will need to become a nurse, you should understand a bit better just how many varieties of nurses there are within healthcare. This is important since some nurses will require different qualifications and personal attributes than others, depending on their roles and duties. There are also different levels of hierarchy within each nursing area, which means that there are more senior and experienced nurses with different responsibilities and skills than those at the lower levels.

Nurses are relied upon throughout healthcare to provide high-quality care to patients who suffer from all kinds of conditions. Some nurses choose to work specifically with dentists, surgeons, the elderly, children, people with mental illness, and so many more. When looking closer at the different needs each smaller area of medicine deals with, it quickly becomes apparent precisely why nurses require such a wide array of skills depending on their specific role. If you are keen to begin becoming a nurse, you will first need to learn more about which areas interest you the most and what those employers ask of potential candidates. You may not know which area of nursing you want to enter right away, but finding a pathway into the industry can be a first step to help you on your journey.


As already mentioned, different kinds of nurse need different qualifications to apply for their roles. At each level, from beginner to more senior positions, the qualifications indicate the level of education a nurse has in their field. The qualifications you need will depend on your previous experience, existing qualifications, geographic location, and the roles you want to apply for.

You may already have begun your journey to becoming a nurse, or perhaps you are an experienced nurse looking to develop your skills in a particular area. This is a common route of growth within nursing since the variety of roles across the healthcare sector has something for everyone. If you are a calm and cheerful person, you may seek out a position where you can help infants and children. If you are resourceful and quick-thinking, you might want a role where your decisions carry a lot of weight.

Know What You Want From Your Job as a Nurse

Think about what you want to get out of the job. While nursing can be hugely fulfilling and rewarding, it is also incredibly tough, and no matter which role you go for, you will need to be able to cope with the intensity of emotions that come with it. Stress, frustration, and despair go along with the job’s satisfaction, delight, and relief. When you research the different kinds of nursing roles, bear in mind what each will demand of your inner strength before taking the next step. Being prepared for the obstacles ahead is much easier when you have a rough idea of what they might look like. For example, the challenges that face a nurse in a senior care home will involve grief and loss. Still, if you are prepared for these difficult emotions and can continue providing excellent care, you should consider pursuing this route. Similarly, the potentially distressing sights that come with working alongside surgeons is not something that everyone can easily face each day. If you have a strong stomach and a stronger desire to help people, this role could be for you.

Previous Relevant Qualifications You Might Have

Your existing qualifications should also be taken into account when thinking about which nursing path you want to follow. If you are already a registered nurse and are looking for opportunities to advance, you will need to find out precisely what requirements must be met so you can apply with a chance of success. For example, with an existing related degree, you could apply for a post masters AGNP certification online. This type of qualification could permit you to expand your knowledge in adult gerontology and look for possible positions in this area. With a broad and unspecified foundation of experience and qualification, you can begin to direct your education and your career toward a role you will truly thrive in.

Preparing to Take the First Steps Toward Your Next Milestone

Studying to gain the necessary qualifications for any nursing role can be extremely tough, especially if you must also juggle employment and your personal life. Many nurses at the beginning or middle of their careers have trouble balancing these important aspects of their lives and so give up on possible progression. If, however, you want to succeed as a nurse, then rethinking how to manage your time should be a top priority. Decide which areas you need to focus on, such as finding the right school to offer the program you need or making a calm workspace in your home to focus on your studies, then set your plan into action.

For anyone hoping to become a nurse or progress in their career in nursing, it is essential that you are dedicated to learning. The experience you gain from the pressure can help you manage future stressful occasions in your nursing role.


Although the official qualifications are vital to landing your dream nursing job, it isn’t always enough to have what it takes on paper. Certification, qualifications, registration, and degrees only prove that you are hardworking and capable of dedicating yourself to your career, which are both valuable qualities in a successful nurse. You must also demonstrate that your temperament and attitude is fit for the role you are applying for. An excellent midwife could make a terrible dental nurse, depending on their personality traits or bedside manner. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to honing the best qualities for a nursing role since the variation within the industry reflects the varied personalities needed to fulfill each distinct role.

The Right Attitude

Understanding your own attitude better can be hugely helpful when considering your future nursing career. It can be disappointing and painful to land a nursing job that you quickly discover successfully is completely at odds with your personality, making it difficult to do your best work. To counter this, take some time to reflect on your values, and beliefs, and how they affect your actions in your day-to-day life. For example, if you are generally a calm and laidback person, does this make it easier to address difficult problems at work, or do you find it hard to deal with conflict? These subtle details about yourself may only become apparent in certain environments, but knowing about them before moving on to a new role can save you time and maybe even disappointment.

Personal Growth and a Desire for Positive Change

Successful nurses understand that growth is necessary for improvement, and improvement is necessary for the care of the patients. As part of the successful nurse’s temperament, a tendency towards optimism and a belief that change can happen is crucial. Accepting stagnation or stasis can threaten patients’ welfare since it can easily lead to apathy and nurses who have lost their drive to help the vulnerable. Despite the hectic nature of many nursing roles, success requires a positive outlook that hinges on the knowledge that self-improvement is part of helping to improve the world around you. There is nothing selfish in developing your personality so that it better aligns with your beliefs around patient care and wellbeing.


As a nurse, you will need to have enough energy to complete your tasks and handle challenges as they arise. Low energy levels can very quickly lead to making mistakes, which is potentially dangerous when in a position that other people’s wellbeing depends upon. Successful nurses want to do their best, so they have enough energy each day to meet their own high expectations.


Although resilience is gradually emerging as a new buzzword, it is highly relevant to anyone hoping to achieve success in the field of nursing. Honing your resilience takes practice and patience but will ultimately help you not only in your nursing career but in your everyday life as well. Resilience is about developing the mental ability to recover from hard times or bad news in a healthy manner. Since nurses are close to people in pain on a daily basis, witnessing so much suffering can build up negatively in the subconscious. This can lead to feeling overwhelmed by stress, sadness, or frustration. Resilience helps nurses cope with difficult times without diminishing their importance or dwelling on the pain.

Leadership and Authority

Even the most junior nurse should be able to speak with authority and make strong, well-considered decisions. This is largely because patients are already feeling vulnerable and uncertain, so if they interact with a similarly unsure member of staff, they may start to feel even worse. However, when a patient interacts with a confident, capable nurse, they are more likely to feel reassured that their health is in good hands. Leadership is about context and necessity, not just job roles and titles. Being able to build an opinion based on solid information and trust your intuition is what makes both a great leader and a successful nurse.


Sometimes all a patient truly wants in the moment is someone who is willing to listen. When nurses have compassion for the people they help, it comes across in their actions. This is why it is so important to put aside your prejudices and show compassion to every patient through respect and kindness. Of course, unfortunately, nurses experience occasions of abuse from patients, and this should never be tolerated. When patients are frightened, sad, or bored, the presence of a compassionate stranger can be enough to brighten their mood.


Whichever area of nursing you look at, there will always be times when nurses must exercise immense patience to continue working at full functionality. The job itself is hugely stressful, but on top of this, colleagues and patients can sometimes make it worse. Having to deal with a coworker’s contradictory opinion or a patient’s unkindness can make nursing even harder than it already is. When you are able to practice patience and maintain an inner feeling of calm despite external disruptions, you will be able to tackle problems with a clearer mind and achieve better results.

Focus and an Eye for Details

Since nurses are dealing with people’s health and wellbeing, they must always be on the ball. Focus is a vital quality for anyone wanting to find success as a nurse. Being able to pay attention amid distractions, observe details quickly, and come up with actionable solutions to problems all make a nurse more competent and reliable. Whether administering medication or listening to a patient’s description of their pain, a nurse must be able to pick up on important details and pay attention to changes so that the right treatment is delivered without risking the patient’s health or safety.

If you want to become a nurse or are looking to advance your existing nursing career, hopefully, this information has provided some useful insight that will lead you to success. While it can be a tough and demanding job, it is also a very rewarding one as you are making a difference in peoples’ lives, and everyone always remembers those who were kind to them when they were most vulnerable.

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