What You Need to Succeed as A Nurse

Few professions provide as great job satisfaction as nursing, which is also a highly noble career. Nurses play a pivotal role in the healthcare system, where they provide important care to patients while also providing support to them and their families. There are many benefits to this key role in healthcare, but it is also a work line that is not for everyone as it can be stressful, demanding, high-pressure, and you will be dealing with distressing situations every day. This means that you need a certain range of skills and traits in addition to qualifications like the DNP to succeed as a nurse – read on to find out what these are.

A Strong Work Ethic

You need a strong work ethic to succeed in any work line, but it is even more true of nursing. As a nurse, you will work long hours; you will be on your feet all day and have multiple responsibilities to manage and deal with high-pressure situations. You will also need to juggle your studies for a DNP and your personal life, so a strong work ethic is essential. Without a strong work ethic, you will never be able to provide the best possible care or stand out from the crowd, so this is just one trait that you will need to find success.

Soft Skills

Again, softs skills are required in most jobs, but in nursing, they are essential, and without them, you will struggle to find success. There are a few key soft skills that you will require, so if any of these are not strengths, then you should look into ways to improve these, such as research, practice, and possibly even courses. The main soft skills required in nursing include:

  • Time management
  • Critical thinking
  • Presentational skills
  • Communication skills
  • Teamwork
  • Leadership

Thick Skin

Nurses need to have thick skin, which is usually developed over time but will be vital both for success and not letting your work interfere with your personal life (more on this to come). Nurses have to deal with situations that may be distressing or disgusting, you will see your patients die often, and you are likely to be shouted at whether this is by a doctor, another nurse, a patient, or the patient’s family—not letting this effect you will be key for performing to a high standard each day and not letting it impact your confidence.


Following this, the best nurses and the ones that progress their careers are the ones that have a high level of confidence. This is so that you can instill confidence in the other healthcare professionals around you, your patients, and also so that you can make important decisions independently to provide the best level of care to your patients. Without confidence, nurses can be walked over. You will not want to get a reputation for this, so you want to portray confidence from the very start (you will quickly build it through experience and earn extra qualifications like the DNP).

Willingness to Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone

As a nurse, you quickly have to learn through experience, which means that you need to be willing to step outside of your comfort zone, and it is here that you will learn, develop and build your confidence. People often make mistakes in high-pressure situations like this, and this is to be expected, but the key is to not less this knock your confidence, and instead, you should view it as a learning opportunity and move on.


One of the most important traits that a nurse needs to have if they are to succeed and provide the best care level is reliability. When healthcare facilities have a nursing staff that they know that they can rely on, do not need to supervise, and work to a high standard each day, it makes them a hugely important asset. Nurses are considered to be the glue in a healthcare facility as they work both with the doctors and with the patients and their families so when they are reliable, they can make all the difference both the outcomes of their patients but also the patient experience, which is so important for developing a positive reputation for the healthcare facility.

Willingness to Go Above & Beyond

You need to have a passion for what you do and be willing to go the extra mile for your patients to provide the best level of care as well as stand out from the crowd. Great nurses will sit with their patients, find ways that they can make them more comfortable, and spend time with a patient’s family just as a few examples of ways that you can do this. While it is important to go above and beyond and connect with your patients, you also need to make sure that you do not get too attached. This can make it difficult to perform to a high standard after difficult situations and lead to interfering with your personal life.

Be A Team Player

Healthcare is a team effort, and nurses need to recognize this and be a team player even if this involves just a minor role. This also includes forming strong relationships with your fellow nurses, and nurses tend to stick together, help each other out and provide emotional support. You will want to become a part of this community not only for support but also if you have plans to progress your career.

Leadership Skills

Being a team player is certainly important, but if you have aspirations to land more senior positions in nursing, you will also need to develop and demonstrate leadership skills in your current role. This could involve a willingness to take control of situations, providing advice for other nurses, and being someone that people come to for advice, taking on additional responsibilities, and leading by example. This is also something that you will naturally develop when you continue to study for high positions, including the DNP.

Desire to Earn Additional Qualifications

Following on from this point, you will also need to have a desire to continue to learn and earn additional qualifications like the DNP if you want to progress and be a nurse leader. DNP programs will allow you to build and develop the key skills that are needed to play a leadership role in today’s complex and fast-changing healthcare system, including key areas like quality improvement, health care policy, and evidence-based problem-solving. The DNP career outlook is positive, with the median salary for a health administrator with the DNP being $91k compared to someone without the DNP at $75k, which is a 21% difference. Additionally, you can take online DNP programs that can make it much easier to fit into your schedule and balance work, personal life, and DNP studies.

A Mentor

Having a mentor can be of huge help as a nurse, especially in the earlier stages of a career before you have taken a masters or DNP. This is because a mentor can help you avoid the common mistakes that people tend to make in the early stages of their career. They can provide emotional support and advice and potentially open up new opportunities for you. Nurses can work with a lot more confidence knowing that they have an experienced healthcare professional looking out for them and with their best interests in mind. This can certainly help nurses who have aspirations to climb the ladder and find greater success in their career.

A Large Professional Network

It is also helpful to have a large professional network if you aspire to reach more senior positions as a nurse. It would be best if you networked both online and offline at every opportunity to build your network and keep in touch with key contacts (this is easier than ever thanks to the internet). You will find that having a large professional network can improve your professional reputation as well as open up new opportunities for you. A few of the best ways for nurses to network in today’s day and age include joining professional organizations, attending medical and nursing events, joining online communities, and using social media.

Passion for Healthcare

For nurses who want to reach the top and qualifications like the DNP, they will also need to have a passion for healthcare. Those that succeed in healthcare see it more as a way of life than simply a job, and this means that they make it an important part of their life even outside of their working hours. This might mean carrying out research and writing papers, attending medical events, networking, listening to podcasts, and generally staying current with all the latest trends, developments, and technologies. Healthcare is always evolving and changing, and those that want to succeed will need to keep pace and show their commitment.

Ability to Make Self-Care A Priority

Self-care is, ironically, an area that many nurses and other healthcare professionals often struggle with because of the demanding nature and the fact that they work long antisocial hours. This could be costly, though, because not looking after yourself will negatively impact your workplace performance, it will stop you from enjoying your free time and lead to burnout and mental health issues. This is why the nurses that progress their careers also know how to look after themselves even with a busy schedule. A few basic tips for how they go about doing this include:

  • Meal prep and eating healthy snacks while working
  • Drinking enough water throughout the day and limiting caffeine
  • Finding ways to get at least 6 hours of sleep every day or night
  • Finding ways to relax and de-stress after work
  • Exercising in their free time
  • Spending time with loved ones
  • Having people to speak to when struggling
  • Being able to separate home and work

Ability to Separate Home & Work

Leading on from this, it is also important that you are able to separate your home and work life and put everything behind you once you leave the hospital for the day. This is much harder to do than a typical desk job due to the high-stakes, difficult experiences, and emotions that you are likely to expert each day, so it is an area that many struggles with. The key is to use your time off effectively and to mentally change gears when you leave work, such as getting changed and having plans or going to bed. You need to use your time management skills and apply them to your time off to make sure that you can rest and recover, socialize and spend time with loved ones and enjoy hobbies and have some fun.

Willingness to Change Jobs & Try New Experiences

As with most jobs, sometimes, in order to progress and climb the ladder, you will need to move to a new healthcare facility or try an alternative job opportunity. You should always make your desire to climb the ladder clear to your superiors, but you should also be looking elsewhere as often you will have to move to make a positive change. This can be difficult when you enjoy where you work and have built relationships over the years, but sometimes this is a necessity if you want to progress.

These are the main things that you need if you want to succeed as a nurse. Nursing is a job quite unlike any other and there are many perks to playing such a key role in healthcare, but it also has its own difficulties and challenges and many people struggle with this role. If you want to provide the best possible care to those in need, progress your career as far as you want to go, earn more money, and play a bigger role in the changes that are made within healthcare, you should focus on the above areas that will help you to reach the top.