Four Skills That Help You Succeed As A Nurse or CNA

As the demand for healthcare professionals like nurses (RN), medical assistants (MA), and nursing assistants (CNA) rises, more young men and women are considering if they have what it takes to be a nurse. Today there more older adults than before in need of care, and the number is projected to rise. Every day, 10,000 older adults turn 65 in the United States and grow closer to requiring in-home or hospital assisted living or care. So what qualities will help you provide successful patient care as a nurse? Consider these four qualities that help nurses succeed every day.



One of the most important qualities both nurses and CNAs usually bring to the workplace is patience. Dealing with patients in distress is going to be the focus of your job. Especially when caring for the elderly, you’ll likely need to exercise patients with people who are very ill and scared. This means that you may need to have compassion in the face of unhappy, overwhelmed patients. Although they can’t help it, you may have to bear the brunt of aggressive or unkind behavior while remaining composed, professional and patient. One way to think of this is treating your patients they way you’d like to be treated in that position.

Being a nurse is rewarding because you’ll get to guide people through successes, triumphs and joyous life moments. It’s also rewarding because you have the power to help someone. Nurses every day recognize the value in this balance and sacrifice. If you’re a naturally patient person, nursing could be a rewarding path for you.


As a nurse, organization will be your cornerstone. Patient charts, information and medication details can’t be confused when someone’s life is at stake. As both a CNA and a nurse, you’ll be in charge of documentation, dosages and any changes in routine. As a nurse, you’ll have to keep track of the lab tests ordered and the materials required. Organization will be a key quality necessary on a daily basis. To stay organized, keep a few tips in mind:


  • Arrive early: Arriving early gives you time to collect your thoughts and prepare yourself for any unexpected tasks or needs.
  • Take inventory at the top of the shift: This is a part of staying prepared so that you can perform your job more efficiently throughout the shift.
  • Keep your station restocked: This will save you time and effort all day or night.


  • Take your breaks: Rest is important if you want to remain focused and sharp.

If you’re naturally organized, you’ll excel as a nurse or certified nursing assistant. If organization is an area that you’ve always struggled in, consider ahead of time ways that you can improve.

Communication Skills

As a nurse or nursing assistance, you’ll need to be receptive and a good communicator. Often, patients want to vent their feelings to you and are looking for comfort or reassurance. On the flip side, sometimes patients don’t want to be pushed to discuss their personal problems. As a healthcare professional, being able to communicate effectively and intuitively is integral. Understanding your patients and responding appropriately to their needs will be a helpful quality to have on a daily basis.

As a registered nurse (RN) or NA, you’ll also need to communicate medical information to people who don’t have medical knowledge and experience. The ability to help patients understand these concepts without scaring or confusing them is key. As you perform your duties, they’ll likely include:

  • Taking vital signs
  • Giving baths
  • Turning patients over
  • Answering call lights
  • Helping patients eat
  • Ambulating patients

These processes can be sensitive for patients in physical pain or emotional distress, and communication skills help RNs and CNAs perform these duties without upsetting patients further. Asking if something hurts, how they are feeling, and keeping the patient aware of everything you do will be important. It’s also important to know when to communicate with nurses and NAs if you notice any unusual changes in the patient.

Positive Attitude

Working in a hospital or office, you’ll likely encounter people every day that are going through distressing phases in their lives. Although hospital visits and lengthy tests can be really scary for people, a positive healthcare professional can make all the difference. Being able to stay positive in the workplace will not only help your day go by faster, it will reduce the patient’s stress.

If you’re considering earning your certification as a nursing assistant or have already decided to go to nursing school, these four qualities are part of the daily demands of the job. As you work closer to your first day training on the job, consider how you can cultivate these skills for your future. You can learn more about the opportunities for programs in your area at today!

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