10+ Essential Nursing Skills | Goodwin University (2023)

Nursing is an incredibly rewarding career path, in which you can make a real difference in others’ lives. At the same time, however, it is also a lot of hard work. Every day, Registered Nurses (RNs) are working diligently to keep patients healthy, to treat ailments and injuries, and to prevent the spread of disease. All the while, they are consoling family members, teaching patients about aftercare, and educating other, younger members of the nursing staff. This profession is multi-dimensional. And, for this reason, there are a number of skills that nurses must have in their back pockets at all times—some of which are vital to keeping their careers alive.

Due to all the moving parts within the nursing profession, aspiring RNs must achieve a college degree, hands-on training, and board-issued licensure before entering the field. These various requirements all add-up to a highly skilled and qualified Registered Nurse. If you are just getting started in nursing, you will need to start with a college education, at an accredited nursing school.

An accredited school, approved by theAccreditation Commission for Education in Nursing(ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education(CCNE), is an essential stepping stone. These institutions have met the highest standards for nursing education, and will equip you with the vital nursing skills and knowledge needed to succeed.

What are the most essential nursing skills, you ask? More importantly, which skills are needed to make nurses successful in their role, and to stand out amongst the rest? With over four million nurses in the United States, adopting the right skillsets now can give you a serious advantage down the road. Below are the top nursing skills you will want to develop, refine, and even highlight on your resume.

Soft Nursing Skills

  1. Effective Communication

On a daily basis, nurses must communicate with their patients, patients’ family members, and the larger medical team. They must be able to listen to and understand the concerns of their patients—this is essential for evaluating conditions and creating treatment plans. In addition, nurses need to be able to clearly articulate any instructions for patients, such as how to take a medication or change a bandage. Sometimes, RNs are responsible for training and directing other nursing staff, like Certified Nursing Assistants and Licensed Practical Nurses. They also must communicate with doctors and other nurses on a daily basis. For this reason, good communication is critical in every corner of the nursing field.


  1. Critical Thinking

Speaking of critical, critical thinking is another essential nursing skill. No day is the same in the life of a nurse. Nurses are constantly encountering new patients, new conditions, and new symptoms. Not to mention, health conditions change all the time. Existing patients may develop different symptoms, or react poorly to a treatment or medication. Registered Nurses must know how to think on their feet to approach all that comes their way.

  1. Attention to Detail

Nurses must be detail-oriented, as many of the situations they handle can be a matter of life or death. Nurses must be precise in ensuring that patients are given the correct treatments, in the right dosages and at the right times. In addition, they must pay attention to seemingly small details (like minor patient symptoms, or allergies), and ask questions to ensure nothing is missed.

  1. Flexibility and Adaptability

As noted above, no day is the same for a Registered Nurse. As a result, you must be able to adapt to all that comes your way. There may be last-minute changes to treatment plans, or shifts in your schedule. Paperwork may be delayed or accelerated. Patients may have bad days. Physicians may have some surprise requests catching you off-guard. As an RN, you must know how to juggle, stay flexible, and keep pressing forward.

  1. Commitment to Learning

Nursing is a field of constant learning. In fact, in order to maintain your RN licensure, you will need to complete several hours of continuing education every couple of years (requirements vary by state). This is common in the healthcare field, as things are always changing. New technology is coming forth, and new treatments are being established. In order to stay current, you must be committed to learning and developing your career. You can also stay up-to-date simply by asking questions in the workplace.

Clinical Nursing Skills

  1. Patient Care

Patient care is one of the core values of nursing, and truly the heart of the field. In order to provide proper patient care, it is important that RNs are competent in patient assessments and treatment planning. You must know how to listen to your patients, as well as strategize potential treatments, and determine what course of action they need. This requires training. You must learn how to deliver patient care through your nursing school. In a dedicated nursing program, you will learn:

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  • The basic, fundamental skills of nursing and care-giving
  • How to conduct physical and psychosocial assessments
  • How to deliver patient care across the lifespan (from pediatrics to geriatrics)
  • Strategies for developing effective treatment plans
  • Case management skills and the continuum of wellness
  • The legal and ethical standards behind patient care

This, and more, will equip you with the skills you need to effectively handle patient care.

  1. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)

All nurses must know cardiopulmonary resuscitation, more commonly known as CPR. This is an emergency, life-saving procedure that is performed when the heart stops beating (for example, when a person drowns). According to the American Heart Association, immediate CPR can double or triple a person’s chance of survival after suffering cardiac arrest. For this reason, all RNs are required to earn CPR training and certification, either during nursing school or as a prerequisite to entry.

  1. Life Support and Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)

In addition, all Registered Nurses must have some training in life support, both basic and advanced. Basic life support (BLS) is a foundational skill for nurses, and studies have shown that basic life support training can significantly improve a nursing student’s knowledge, practice skills, attitudes, and self-efficacy in the field. Those who know and are certified in advanced life support, specifically ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support), will be well-prepared to save patients suffering from cardiac arrest—which, in the United States alone, takes 475,000 lives each year.

  1. Emergency and Critical Care Nursing

About 60 percent of all Registered Nurses today work in a hospital setting. While some may have regular patients suffering from chronic conditions, most nurses in this environment will have a constant flow of new patients and emergencies. For this reason, RNs should be well-versed in emergency healthcare services, and be prepared to work in a fast-paced, high-stakes setting. It is also recommended that RNs learn about critical care. Critical care involvesworking in intensive-care units in hospitals, helping patients with serious, complex, and acute illnesses or injuries that need close monitoring.

  1. Case Management

Case management is related to patient care, but serves on its own as a vital nursing skill. The fact is, nurses work with a lot of patients on a day-to-day basis. They are constantly creating treatment plans, monitoring patient conditions, and taking action to keep patients healthy and safe. RNs must know how to juggle this all, keeping up with multiple cases at once. In addition, they must serve as advocates for their patients and ensure all their needs are met, which requires a constant monitoring of cases.


Other Technical Nursing Skills

The above nursing skills are just the beginning of a long list of proficiencies that Registered Nurses must master. Because in addition to patient care delivery, case management, and effective communication, nurses must have the nitty-gritty, technical know-how to keep their patients safe. This involves knowledge of:

  • Telemetry
  • Phlebotomy
  • Pharmacology
  • Wound care
  • Cardiology
  • Endocrinology
  • Oncology
  • Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Neonatal care
  • And more!

Do you have what it takes to become a Registered Nurse? Do not be intimidated by this checklist of vital nursing skills. If you have compassion, empathy, and a desire to help others in need, you are already on the right track! The right nursing school can teach you the rest.

Learn how to kickoff your nursing career at Goodwin University, and become a skilled and proficient Registered Nurse in less than two years’ time. Call 800-889-3282 or visit us online to learn more.

10+ Essential Nursing Skills | Goodwin University (1)

Goodwin University

Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.

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How many skills should I list on my resume for nursing? ›

Skills section

You should list three to nine nursing skills in this section. Each one of them should strengthen your qualifications and make you a more attractive candidate.

How do you pass skills in nursing school? ›

10 Study Tips That Will Make Nursing School Easier
  1. Follow the nursing exam study guide. ...
  2. Study a little every day. ...
  3. Focus on the material covered in class. ...
  4. Think in terms of action, not facts. ...
  5. Form a study group. ...
  6. Skim-read first. ...
  7. Use outside sources. ...
  8. Know your learning style.

What are the 10 nursing core competencies? ›

The following ten attributes represent the characteristics of nursing competency addressed: personal characteristics; cognitive ability; orientation to ethical/legal practice; engagement in professional development; collaboration with other healthcare professionals; providing teaching or coaching to patients and staff; ...

How do you answer 3 ways in which this individual can improve his her performance at work nursing? ›

  1. Dress for Success. You have probably heard the adage “dress for success” plenty of times throughout your career. ...
  2. Be People-Oriented Not Task-Oriented. ...
  3. Establish Goals. ...
  4. Make Communication a Priority. ...
  5. Take Care of Yourself. ...
  6. Never Stop Learning.
28 Oct 2021

What is a good amount of skills to list on resume? ›

Create a legible, separate skills section: list up to ten key job skills, optionally adding descriptions of your proficiency level. Refer to your top skills in your resume's work experience section to show how you put your abilities to use. Add 2–3 most relevant skills to your resume summary or objective.

How do you not fail nursing school? ›

But, one thing that keeps many people from pursuing a career in nursing is nursing school—because they have heard it is hard.
  1. Time Management. ...
  2. Get Organized. ...
  3. Use Mnemonics. ...
  4. Study Everyday. ...
  5. Complete Practice Questions. ...
  6. Participate in a Study Group.

How hard is it to pass nursing? ›

Nursing programs have a demanding credit load, and many nursing students stack challenging courses during the same term in order to fast-track their degrees. That could mean multiple critical exams falling on the same day or week. However, as long as you take the time to study and prepare, you should be okay.

Is nursing school hard to pass? ›

But nursing school is notoriously difficult. Most nursing programs require high GPAs and impressive scores in math, chemistry, biology, psychology, and other demanding subjects. It's also extremely fulfilling.

What are the 11 core competencies in nursing? ›

The students shall have an awareness of the competency-based approach in the curriculum and the core competencies under the 11 key areas of responsibility: safe and quality nursing care , communication, collaboration and teamwork, health education , legal responsibility, ethico-moral responsibility, personal and ...

What is nursing Short answer? ›

Nursing encompasses autonomous and collaborative care of individuals of all ages, families, groups and communities, sick or well and in all settings. It includes the promotion of health, the prevention of illness, and the care of ill, disabled and dying people.

What are the 10 most common interview questions and answers for nurses? ›

Common nursing interview questions
  • Do you work well with other nurses, doctors and staff? ...
  • How would you handle a difficult patient? ...
  • How do you handle workplace stress? ...
  • What do you do if your replacement does not arrive? ...
  • How would you handle a disagreement with a doctor? ...
  • Describe how you manage a busy workload.

What is your weakness best answer nursing? ›

How to talk about weaknesses in your nursing interview
  • Spending too much time on paperwork.
  • Paying too much attention to detail.
  • Attempting to complete too many tasks at once.
  • A lack of clinical experience, which may apply to recent graduates or new nurses.
  • Not being familiar with recent software updates.

What is your biggest weakness as a nurse? ›

Examples of common nursing weaknesses our experts say they hear include: Paying too much attention to detail. Wanting to do everything at once. Spending too long on paperwork.

What are 3 items that should not go into a resume? ›

11 things not to put on your resume
  • Too much information. ...
  • A solid wall of text. ...
  • Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. ...
  • Inaccuracies about your qualifications or experience. ...
  • Unnecessary personal information. ...
  • Your age. ...
  • Negative comments about a former employer. ...
  • Too many details about your hobbies and interests.

What are 3 things you should not put on your resume? ›

Certain personal details are unnecessary to put on your resume and could even send the wrong message.
Don't include:
  • Your marital status.
  • Sexual orientation.
  • Religious or political affiliations.
  • Social security number.
  • Anything else that a prospective employer can't ask about.

How do I list my skills on a resume 2022? ›

Chronological format: If you have extensive experience in the career field you're interested in, go with a chronological resume, including a list of key skills. Focus on your top 8-10 soft and hard skills for your resume, and give examples of how you've deployed your skills in past jobs.

How many skills are too many skills on a resume? ›

You should list 4 to 10 skills on a resume. The number of hard and soft skills you include on your resume depends on the job you want, but 4 to 10 is enough for most candidates.

How many skills is too much on a resume? ›

Key Takeaways: You'll want to have anywhere between 5 and 10 skills in the skills section of your resume. Your resume's skills section is a key part of impressing a hiring manager and recruiter. It's important to tailor your resume to the specific job, and put any skills that the job description is asking for.

How do you rate your skill level? ›

Ways to list skill levels on a resume
  1. Beginner. As a beginner, you can perform basic tasks and have a preliminary understanding of the skill. ...
  2. Intermediate. Generally speaking, you should only list a skill if you have at least an intermediate-level proficiency. ...
  3. Proficient. ...
  4. Expert.
22 Apr 2021

How many nursing students fail out? ›

How many nursing students fail? According to the National League of Nursing, the dropout rate for nursing programs in the United States is around 20%.

Why do student nurses fail? ›

Nursing students who leave their courses blame finances, academic issues, placement quality, workload and lack of support.

How many times can you fail nursing? ›

If they fail, they'll need to wait 45 days before retesting. After failing three times, though, they'll need to complete a board-approved remediation program before the next retake. Candidates have six attempts to pass in total.

How many people actually pass nursing? ›

According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, in 2021: Over 83 percent of first-time takers who were educated in the U.S. passed the NCLEX-RN, which is the exam for becoming a registered nurse.

Which nursing is the easiest? ›

Easy-to-get-into nursing jobs can be found in extended care facilities. Nursing homes, rehab facilities, and assisted living all fall under this umbrella. Although you should be able to find a job in many of these environments, working in an assisted living facility may be your best option.

How many hours a day should you study while in nursing school? ›

Everyone is different, but in general, it is recommended that nursing school students study anywhere from 2-4 hours a day. Committing class material to memory is essential to becoming a registered nurse, so the more time studying, the better!

What is the toughest class in nursing school? ›

Hardest Nursing School Classes
  • Pathophysiology. In this course, students learn how different anatomical systems work and how diseases or injuries affect these systems. ...
  • Pharmacology. ...
  • Medical Surgical 1 (also known as Adult Health 1) ...
  • Evidence-Based Practice.

Which semester of nursing school is the hardest? ›

Health Assessment: the hardest semester of nursing school

Health assessment will likely be one of the initial courses you'll take in nursing school, and it involves delving into the various body systems and learning how to assess patients from head to toe.

What is the hardest part of nursing school? ›

The Stress of NCLEX and Proficiency Exams

Nursing school is different from other majors because you must pass the required proficiency exams each semester to advance. Furthermore, obtaining a degree still isn't enough. You must then pass the NCLEX exam before you can become licensed.

What is the strongest skill as a nurse? ›

The key to being a successful nurse is communication.

Communication skills are one of the most important requirements of a nurse's job—both following directions and communicating with patients and families. Patients who are sick or suffering often are not in a position of strength to speak up for themselves.

What is your strongest nursing skill? ›

Having empathy to interact with the patient and their family and helping them to cope with problems is very important in a nursing position. Having the ability to understand and share those feelings with the patient and their loved ones is an essential strength for a nurse.

What are the 15 competencies? ›

What are the competencies?
  • Service Orientation.
  • Social Skills.
  • Cultural Competence.
  • Teamwork.
  • Oral Communication.
  • Ethical Responsibility to Self and Others.
  • Reliability and Dependability.
  • Resilience and Adaptability.

What are the K to 12 competency? ›

The four core blended teaching competencies—(1) Online integration, (2) Data practices, (3) Personalization, and (4) Online interaction—can be mastered by any teacher in any subject area. These competencies are built on a foundation of positive dispositions and basic technology skills.

What are the 13 competencies? ›

The 13 Competencies includes Drive for Results, Service Orientation, Quality Orientation, Planning & Organizing, Analysis & Problem Solving, Entrepreneurial Orientation, Risk Management, Relationship Management, Adaptability & Change Management, Team Leadership, People Development, Visionary & Strategic Thinking and ...

What is the full name of nurse? ›

2. RN is an abbreviation for registered nurse.

What are the 4 types of nursing? ›

There are four key areas of nursing you can choose to specialise in, with each leading on to a wide range of rewarding roles with plenty of scope for progression.
  • Mental health nurse. ...
  • Learning disability nurse. ...
  • Adult nurse. ...
  • Children's nurse. ...
  • Nursing associate.

Who was the first nurse? ›

Florence Nightingale (Figure 1), the founder of modern nursing of professional nursing, was born in Florence, Italy, on 1820, in an English family; she was named of the city of her birth.

What is the hardest part of nursing interview question? ›

The hardest part of being a nurse is seeing a patient in pain or unhappy and being limited in the extent I can comfort them. The reality is that as a professional I can only do so much. However, I realize this helps me so that I do not become too emotionally invested in my patients."

How do I pass my nursing interview? ›

Nursing Interview Tips
  1. Know where you're going. Healthcare facilities are often big and confusing. ...
  2. Dress professionally. Professional attire tells interviewers you take them and the job seriously.
  3. Rehearse your nursing interview questions. Don't just prep answers. ...
  4. Pamper yourself. ...
  5. Listen and take notes.
17 Jun 2022

What questions do they ask in a university interview for nursing? ›

Nursing University Interview Questions
  • Tell us about yourself.
  • Talk us through your personal statement.
  • Why do you want to be a Adult/Child/Mental Health nurse?
  • What have you done to prepare yourself for a career in Nursing?
  • What strengths do you have that will help you deal with all the work involved?

What are your top 3 weaknesses answer? ›

How to answer What are your greatest weaknesses? Choose a weakness that will not prevent you from succeeding in the role. Be honest and choose a real weakness. Provide an example of how you've worked to improve upon your weakness or learn a new skill to combat the issue.

What are the 6 C's of nursing? ›

The 6Cs of nursing are:
  • Care.
  • Compassion.
  • Competence.
  • Communication.
  • Courage.
  • Commitment.

What is your strength best answer? ›

When answering, mention what your top strengths are, provide examples on how you've used them in the past, and finally, describe the results you've gotten. Be super specific with your answers. Don't just say “I'm good at X” - really dive deep and give the interviewer a comprehensive answer.

How do you handle difficult patients? ›

7 Tips for Handling Difficult Patients
  1. Don't Get Defensive. ...
  2. Watch Your Body Language. ...
  3. Let Them Tell Their Story and Listen Quietly. ...
  4. Acknowledge the Situation. ...
  5. Set Boundaries. ...
  6. Administer Patient Satisfaction Surveys. ...
  7. Be Proactive.
8 Jul 2019

How do you introduce yourself in a nursing interview? ›

“TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF!” for Nursing Interviews ... - YouTube

How do you handle stress and pressure? ›

2. Commit to a Positive Attitude
  1. Decide what you can do. Pinpoint which parts of the situation you have the power to change or influence for the better. ...
  2. Get support. Find someone to talk to about your situation. ...
  3. Care for yourself. Take especially good care of yourself when stress in your life is high.

What are 5 skills you need to be a nurse? ›

Ten Essential Skills for Nurses
  • Communication. ...
  • Attitude and confidence. ...
  • Teamwork. ...
  • Networking. ...
  • Critical thinking and creative problem solving. ...
  • Professionalism. ...
  • Empathy. ...
  • Conflict resolution.
16 Jan 2021

What skill should every nurse have? ›

Effective Communication

They must be able to listen to and understand the concerns of their patients—this is essential for evaluating conditions and creating treatment plans. In addition, nurses need to be able to clearly articulate any instructions for patients, such as how to take a medication or change a bandage.

How can a nurse stand out on a resume? ›

Five Ways to Make a Nursing Resume Stand Out from The Competition
  1. Include an objective statement. ...
  2. Communicate workplace value. ...
  3. Be specific and relevant. ...
  4. Highlight clinical experience and areas of expertise. ...
  5. Earn an MSN.

What is your strongest skill as a nurse? ›

The key to being a successful nurse is communication.

Communication skills are one of the most important requirements of a nurse's job—both following directions and communicating with patients and families. Patients who are sick or suffering often are not in a position of strength to speak up for themselves.

What are the 6 C's of nursing? ›

The 6Cs of nursing are:
  • Care.
  • Compassion.
  • Competence.
  • Communication.
  • Courage.
  • Commitment.

What are three skills needed to be a nurse? ›

Higher Education Standards
  • Compassion. For many, the nursing profession is a calling. ...
  • Critical Thinking. As a nurse, you need the ability to quickly assess a situation and determine the course of action needed to provide the best healthcare possible. ...
  • Communication. ...
  • Calm and Cool. ...
  • Organization.
15 Jun 2021

How do I describe my skills level on my CV? ›

Tips for including skill levels on your resume
  • Enlist the help of a template. ...
  • List the skills you are most experienced in, first. ...
  • List your technical skills before interpersonal skills. ...
  • Include more expert and proficient skills than novice skills. ...
  • Choose skills that reflect the job position. ...
  • Use horizontal space.

What is a skill example? ›

For example: Good communication skills. Critical thinking. Working well in a team.

What are soft skills in nursing? ›

Soft skills are personal strengths, traits, and behaviors that you exhibit in various situations. The American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACCN) considers soft skills as an essential component of nursing that leads to healthy working environments and patient safety.

What is basic nursing skill? ›

As a nurse, you will be learning and developing an array of skills during your time on the ward, including the following: Emotionally Support Other Nurses. Share Compassion & Empathy. Excellent Communication Skills. Remain Professional.

What skills do new nurses need? ›

Top 10 skills nursing students need to succeed
  • Confidence. ...
  • Ability to connect the dots. ...
  • Critical thinking. ...
  • Relation-based care. ...
  • Leadership. ...
  • Lifelong learning. ...
  • Think like a nurse. ...
  • Work well with colleagues.

What should not be included in a nursing resume? ›

Don't list hobbies or non-nursing activities. Your resume is to show your professional skills and qualifications. Therefore, avoid listing hobbies or personal activities, especially if they are unrelated to the nursing position you're applying for.

What do nursing employers look for? ›

You are More Than Your Resume

It is clear that nursing employers are looking for more than just academic credentials and meaningful experience. These employers are looking for high-quality human beings who can lead, inspire others and provide genuine care to those in need.

Can you tell us about your experience and skills as a nurse? ›

My greatest strength as a nurse is my ability to connect with patients and provide them with compassion and care. I am also very patient and efficient in my work. My greatest weakness is that I sometimes have trouble dealing with the emotional aspects of the job.


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