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Key Skills for Registered Nurses (RN)

September 2, 2021

Nursing is not a career for everyone, as whoever wants to pursue it must feel a calling or at least a real passion for caring for others, and must possess certain skills that will help them succeed in this field. If you (or someone you know) want to become a nurse or have already chosen nursing as your lifelong career path, it is never too late to learn what are the essential skills for nurses and key skills for registered nurses (RN) that you will need in this occupation. Keep reading to find out more.

Essential Skills for Nurses

Finding success in registered nursing is not just a matter of education, credentials, or qualifications. The most successful nurses are those who have developed several skills either before entering the field or throughout years of experience on the job. These essential skills for nurses are not even technical or medical, they are actually soft skills that help to perform their duties and responsibilities with patients, but also to work well in teams, whether it is alongside other nurses or a multidisciplinary group of physicians.

Let’s take a look at these skills needed for RN:

Communication skills for Nurses

Communication is essential in the nursing field as nurses should be able to communicate well with patients, their relatives, and other healthcare workers. In fact, knowing how to communicate effectively is vital to gain patient’s trust and provide them the care they need. Plus, communicating well with patients’ relatives (spouses, children, or parents) can help nurses make better decisions about the treatments, recovery actions, and home care they can prescribe to each patient.

Positive attitude and confidence

Patients are usually under lots of stress. Laying down in a hospital bed, nobody is in the best of moods, but we can all agree that counting on an optimistic and confident nurse by our side can make all the difference. In addition to this, having a positive attitude and feeling confident on the job can help nurses get more opportunities to develop their medical knowledge and advance in their careers as opposed to someone who is always nervous about trying different approaches or learning new techniques.


Nurses can work on their own, but in hospitals and other medical settings they usually work as part of multidisciplinary teams that include doctors and other healthcare workers. As good team players, nurses should behave with professionalism, and respect for others, and should also showcase a strong work ethic. Ultimately, being able to work well in teams gives nurses an upper hand to succeed in their careers, while it guarantees better outcomes for patients.

Empathy, kindness, and compassion

These are great traits for anyone to have, but in nursing, empathy, kindness, and compassion are also great soft skills that can help nurses connect better with patients, comfort them if they feel afraid, and advocate for them when physicians are discussing treatment options and making decisions about their health. Being empathetic and kind can also allow nurses to treat all patients in a similar way, regardless of their religious affiliations, race, gender, etc.

Dedication and Patience

Working effectively as a nurse without dedication and patience can be extremely difficult. The quality of patience can help individuals conquer anxiety, overcome misunderstandings, and help in making the right decisions. If anybody wants to be successful, then they should be committed to their work. Showing dedication and patience can help prospective RNs improve their education, gain better experience, and ultimately become leaders in the medical field.

RN job

Key Skills for Registered Nurses (RN)

Apart from the general skills that all nurses should have, registered nurses could also benefit from these key skills:

Physical and mental fitness

Being physically strong may not be considered a skill for most people, but this is a key skill for RNs, and it is just as important as being mentally stable. RNs often work long hours and are always on their feet, going from one place to the other, and moving quickly in certain situations, which is why they need to be fit and strong enough to tolerate this level of activity. Also, RNs are constantly under pressure and deal with many traumatic situations, which means they need to have great mental and emotional stability to survive in this occupation.

Stress management skills

As previously stated, registered nurses experience constant mental and physical trauma, usually accompanied by stress. These feelings are often a consequence of being overworked, understaffed, dealing with complicated patients, and other situations. Knowing how to cope with stress is a key skill for RNs if they want to stay in this field in the long run and make a positive difference in their patient’s lives.

Organizational Skills

RNs have numerous duties and responsibilities and are often assigned to work with multiple patients at the same time, which translates into numerous room visits, charts to fill out, relatives to talk to, medical procedures to perform, and much more. Developing good organizational skills is probably the only way these healthcare workers can take care of everything without losing track of anything or anybody. Mastering this particular skill doesn’t just help RNs feel more in control of their workload, but it also helps patients receive better nursing care.

Attention to detail

RNs need to pay attention to every aspect of their job, from patient charts to medications, diagnosis, allergies, and more. Failing to do this could result in harmful and even fatal mix-ups that could cost them their license. That is why nurses need to develop outstanding attention to detail skills to make sure nothing goes unnoticed, especially when part of their job is supervising the work of other healthcare workers, like personal support workers or nursing assistants.

So, what do you think? Do you have most of these essential skills for nurses or even some of the key skills for registered nurses (RN)? If you’re already in nursing field, we hope you do because these are the skills that will allow you to get employed and advance in your career. If you are not yet in the field, but are in nursing school or thinking about it, take a closer look at this list and work on developing some of these skills, as they will help you succeed in this occupation. Thank you for reading! 

About The Author
Laura Woodman
Content Marketing Specialist

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