Caring for ill and injured patients in busy health care settings requires a unique disposition and set of skills. Students may have what it takes to be a nurse if they are intelligent, hard-working and passionate about helping people. Training is intense because nurses must be up to the challenge of remaining calm and proficient in life-and-death situations. Nursing education helps students develop the special qualities and technical competencies needed in this occupation.


Nursing careers tend to appeal to sensitive and compassionate students who wish to alleviate human suffering. Those who truly care about the feelings of others are better able to understand and comfort patients who are frightened, angry or upset. Patients are more likely to disclose important health information, such as illegal drug use, to someone who is warm and nonjudgmental. In a study published in a 2003 issue of The Journal of Clinical Nursing, researchers reported that nurses who are empathic experience long-term job satisfaction.

Stress Tolerance

Students are given increasing responsibility as they progress through a nursing program. The workload can feel daunting. Successful completion of coursework depends on being able to meet deadlines and work under pressure. Laramie County Community College indicates that nursing school prepares students for a career where they’ll be expected to “think and act under extreme stress.” Nursing students can better cope with the emotionally and physically demanding aspects of training by taking care of themselves and by finding time to enjoy outside interests.

Focus on Details

O*Net indicates that nurses must be precise, analytical and well-organized in order to juggle the needs of multiple patients at the same time. Accuracy is important when taking vital signs, recording information on a patient’s chart and performing procedures under supervision. Any mistakes must be disclosed immediately to a supervisor and corrected. Students can benefit from having a detailed planner to manage time, identify goals and measure progress.

Emotional Stability

Nurses must be able to manage their emotions because of the intensity of their duties and daily interactions. Providing ongoing support for patients and families dealing with serious or terminal illness can take a toll on caregivers, including nursing students. Having a pleasant disposition, a positive attitude and an even temperament can help de-escalate tension in the workplace. Nurses must also trust themselves to take decisive action in difficult situations, according to the College Board. Students are encouraged to seek counseling if they struggle with self-doubt or boundaries.

Ethics and Integrity

Patients rely on nurses to be honest, reliable, sincere and competent. Nursing students must act in accordance with rules and regulations of their academic program, the nursing profession and clinical placements to ensure proper patient care. For example, the code of ethics adopted by the National Student Nurses Association stresses the importance of maintaining confidentiality, advocating for patient safety and refraining from actions that could harm the patient.

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