What It Takes to Be a Nurse

Caring, motivation, persistence, expert knowledge, and the ability to translate knowledge into action are vital qualities that successful nurses use each day in their profession.

Caring is essential for a nurse and a client to interact and help each other. (You’ll notice I did not say “for the nurse to help the patient.”) Jean Watson, founder of the Watson Caring Science Institute, developed her theory of Caring Science which explains how two people meet, interact, and how the interaction can benefit both parties, like the nurse and the client. Caring (personal concern) is the essential component that facilitates this.  A desire to help can be a driving force for the person considering nursing. The nurse must set the stage to develop and provide caring moments for the clients. Although caring is seen by some as a one-way street from the nurse to the client, Watson’s two-way perspective offers a more symbiotic relationship between the nurse and the client. The caring interaction greatly enhances the nurse’s satisfaction.

Motivation is necessary as nursing practice continues to change based on new information and studies. New nursing theories and evidence-based practices arise from developments in science. The nurse must be a lifelong learner, changing his or her practice to use the best new techniques supported by evidence. Being motivated to help the client stimulates the nurse to continue to improve their practice. The registered professional nurse role can be a challenging one and motivation helps the nurse move forward each day.

Persistence and tenacity are the staying power of the nurse. A nurse’s role is not necessarily an easy one and being highly focused helps when times become challenging.  Oftentimes the nurse needs to fine-tune a plan of individual nursing care or an action plan to resolve a unit problem.

Knowledge/expertise associated with the science and art of nursing is the basis of what it takes to be a nurse. Knowing how people/clients respond to different diseases, situations, and circumstances is important to anticipate how an individual may react.  The nurse uses this data to develop a patient-centered plan to help the patient meet their goals.  A nurse’s knowledge is layer upon layer of anatomy and physiology, microbiology, psychology, and sociology at a minimum. The broader the nurse’s knowledge base, the easier it may be to help the client to achieve desired goals.

The ability to translate knowledge into action is important in nursing. Knowing evidence-based practices that might help with a problem; the individual client and their preferences; and one’s self, helps the nurse prepare for a successful interaction. The nurse must be confident and able to coordinate and/or perform psychomotor skills.  Evaluating the care provided allows the nurse to determine how to improve the plan for a current client and future ones.