8 Traits of Great Nurses

May 4, 2021 | Aussie Nurse

Sometimes it seems as though nursing involves a person to go on a journey, we all start as students who are excited and curious, then the next stage is becoming a qualified nurse


Once a new nurse becomes a graduate and is working, we see them transfer the learning from theory into a practical setting of course the learning curve is steep and at times challenging.

As the journey continues and a nurse becomes more established with experience and confidence, they start to form a path of which speciality they would like to focus on in nursing. Then some nurses than take it to the next level a bit like a Michelin star chef they have a story of progression where some of these nurses seem to transform in whats seems like a blink of an eye into overnight successes by becoming exceptional within their role. 

You know these overnight successes that actually took years and years of hard work and dedication behind the scenes, yet they make it look like it’s simple to achieve these attributes.

I have worked with a few of these nurses who demonstrated through their actions at work a commitment to nursing that has graceful ease- like Michelin star chefs, they have worked with deliberate thought to improve and refine their skills.

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It’s the only thing”

-Albert Schweitzer

I can’t help but give admiration to these nurses and I was wondering what leads a person to a new direction to improve within their career, they have a confidence where they just know things. Also even if they are in a senior/hierarchical role they are able to distinguish that and not let their ego pull them in any direction by not trying to prove but by striving to improve.

I have to question? 

– What motivates the exceptional nurse? 

– Do they have different metrics to success?  

To help them grow and develop within their nursing practice, it must take reflection to look back at an event in the workplace in an introspective manner. Looking back highlights any mistakes to learn from and it gives self awareness to remove any blindspots that we didn’t recognise before and change the way we make decisions in the future if a similar event was to occur again. Also, its important as an individual nurse not to forget celebrating any successes on the way as well. 

Participating in regular reflection may start the series of actions that started with thought and guides a nurses direction for future career growth. This may empower a person on what they want to achieve within their nursing practice, especially anything that involves personal passions as well.


Once becoming a great nurse their work just speaks for themselves and in no order here are some traits that are special to great nurses-

  1. Adaptable to roles, they can step up to senior roles when needed
  2. Open to learning & teaching others
  3. Ask questions instead of having the answers all the time
  4. Don’t blame others, will give constructive feedback & guidance
  5. Calm in high stress situations/events
  6. Can be firm appropriately when required
  7. Watches out for co-workers & offers to listen
  8. They know when to have breaks for self-care


The years of care, of mistakes and the experiences are not seen on the outside, yet the identity of these nurses may be crafted from years of work a bit like an artist such as a Michelin star chef. They offer a confidence which is consistent especially in nursing where we can’t plan whats going to happen on any day and in return it’s always a pleasure to work with nurses with these attributes because they bring a unique energy to the workplace environment.

(Picture from Canva)

“Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment, full effort is full victory”

-Mahatma Gandhi

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