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Herzing University

Robin. L. Ihde

Top Qualities of an Exceptional Nurse

Being a nurse is not an easy job, and we thank all nurses for their hard work. Here are some indispensable qualities of an outstanding nurse.

Being a nurse is not an easy job. The best nurses are considered exceptional because they have a thirst for knowledge, continual skill development and lots of experience.

What makes a good nurse is more than practical knowledge - their personality traits are every bit as important. Nurses understand how much time and energy they devote to their career, so they feel a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment when they make a profound difference in the lives of the patients they touch. Exceptional nurses not only use their knowledge and expertise to help their patients cope with illness, they also give a piece of their heart to each and every patient under their care.

Here are the qualities of a great nurse: 

1. An exceptional nurse is compassionate

Patients are often fearful of how an illness may affect their lives and the lives of people they love. They may feel as if they have lost control of their situation and that they are either too ill or not informed enough to speak for themselves. Nurses must be their patients’ voice, anticipate their needs and advocate for them when they are unable to do so for themselves.

2. An exceptional nurse is empathetic

Nurses are active listeners and make concerted efforts to really understand their patients’ difficulties and challenges. This is done without judgment.  Nurses understand that everyone has their own set of values and life experiences to draw upon and they try to see the situation from the patient’s perspective so that they can best meet the patient’s needs.

3. An exceptional nurse is self-aware

Nurses have a high degree of emotional intelligence. As nurses, we must first understand ourselves and the way we think in order to understand how a patient might feel about his condition or react in a certain situation. We must also recognize how our strengths, limitations, values and beliefs influence our decision-making process so that we can make objective, informed decisions that are in the patient’s best interest.

4. An exceptional nurse is detail-oriented

Nurses are meticulous and must pay close attention to the smallest details. They have excellent organizational skills and strive to maintain order.

5. An exceptional nurse is a quick thinker and utilizes excellent judgment

Nurses must rely on their skills, knowledge and experience to make quick and sound judgments. A combination of knowledge and experience is the key to recognizing a problem and offering the best solution.

6. An exceptional nurse is a lifelong learner

Nurses must be technically strong with a thirst for knowledge. The nursing profession is a scientifically rigorous discipline that requires continuing education. Ongoing nursing education supports the professional practice of nursing and ensures the delivery of safe, evidence-based, high-quality care for patients.

7. An exceptional nurse does not forget the importance of a smile

A nurse’s smile displays kindness and shows confidence in the care we provide. A smile also makes us approachable, allowing our patients and family members to feel comfortable enough to ask questions about their care.

As exceptional nurses, we have the opportunity to participate in the healing of our patients and their families’ heart, mind, soul and body. They might forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel.

If this sounds like you, Herzing University can help you become a registered nurse (RN) and empower you to change the lives of those in need. Learn more about our nursing degree programs.

Robin. L. Ihde, BSN-RN, is an Injury Prevention/Outreach Coordinator for Froedtert Hospital where she coordinates injury prevention activities for teens, the elderly and education to healthcare providers. Robin received her Bachelor of Science Nursing from Alverno College Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She has worked in critical care and emergency trauma nursing for close to 40 years and held leadership positions in emergency departments and hospitals.

Learn More About Our Nursing Programs


* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics 2023 / Occupational Outlook Handbook 2022. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

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