8 Signs You're Ready to Become a Nurse

street sign with the image of a nurse on it pointing to a hospital

Nursing is an essential role within the healthcare system and in our local and global communities. Taking on this challenging, rewarding, and critical profession is a major decision. Nurses put themselves on the front line of medicine and spend years gaining knowledge to provide the best possible care to their patients. Maybe you have always admired nurses, or maybe a recent experience or the public health crisis has lead you to think more about the possibility of becoming a nurse. But how do you know if this profession is right for you?

While it’ll always be difficult to know for sure until you’ve donned the scrubs and walked a few miles in their supportive shoes, there are certainly some indicators you can evaluate today. To help with that, we spoke with nursing professionals to highlight some of the most important skills and qualities for prospective nurses.

Get Your Nursing School Questions Answered at a Nursing Information Session

Reserve Your Spot


Signs a nursing career could be right for you

Are you a natural fit for a nursing career? Consider the following signs.

1. Listening comes easy to you

Maybe it’s coworkers, friends, or family members—but lots of people in your life turn to you in times of crisis. While there are many reasons for this trust, one of the biggest is that you know how to listen to people. The skills involved in being a good listener include having emotional intelligence, spoken and nonverbal communication skills, and knowing how to make people feel comfortable speaking about private parts of their lives.

Nurses who work closely with patients rely on their honesty and ability to be candid about intimate medical information. The best nurses are able to listen intently to what their patients have to say—and also what they’re not saying—in order to help them best. Even nurses who do not work directly with patients need the ability to listen closely and respond appropriately to complex medical information. 

2. You’re adaptable in the face of problems

You know there are many ways to solve a problem. It takes creativity and an open mind to put together a plan to overcome the unexpected obstacles in front of you. These qualities make for an effective and persistent nurse.

“By nature of the profession, unexpected problems often occur in nursing,” says former nurse and pain consultant at Pathways Health, Dr. Jeevan Kelon. “Great nurses need to be able to quickly think on their feet and come up with solutions to complex problems.”

3. You’re patient

 “There are many situations in which you’ll need patience,” says Dr. Kelon. “That might be when patients or family members have questions, when you’re trying to take a blood sample from a vein that’s tricky to get to, and so on.”

Not everything is going to go smoothly during a shift. Your patients will bring a huge mix of personalities and potentially frustrating tendencies. It’s a fact of life for nurses—so having the ability to let the little things roll off your back while you focus on the task at hand is a big plus.

4. You can handle the unpleasant

So maybe it’s a little obvious, but if going to the doctor makes your skin crawl, or the sight of blood or other not-so-pleasant things leaves you heading for the exit—this might not be the career for you. While some of these things do get easier to handle with experience, a nursing career does take a certain level of comfort with being able to deal with things many would find disgusting. Sores, scrapes, cysts, lacerations, blood, feces—you name it, and a nurse has seen their fair share.

5. You’re a straight shooter

Nursing is among the most trusted professions. According to Gallup polling, nurses have held the top spot for honesty and ethical behavior for 18 years running.1 That’s no fluke. Nurses need the trust of their patients, and patients need to know the unvarnished truth about their health and what needs to be done to maintain it.

This profession comes with challenging conversations and sometimes delivering news to patients that they might not want to hear. If you’re the type to firmly tell it like it is while keeping an even keel emotionally, you may be a great fit for this.

Keep in mind, there’s more to this than patient interactions. Integrity means you do as you say you’ll do and acknowledge when you’ve failed to live up to it—and that’s essential for any team of healthcare providers.

6. You are comfortable talking to all kinds of people

Nursing requires a high level of medical, scientific, and technological knowledge, but it is also a profession that works closely with other people. As a nurse, you may work with patients as well as many other healthcare professionals including doctors, nursing assistants, physical therapist, psychologists, and more. Nurses need to feel comfortable communicating effectively with all sorts of individuals.

Beyond the team of healthcare professionals you’ll work with, nurses are also caring for people from all walks of life. The people where you live need healthcare and compassionate treatment—no matter their background. That makes cultural fluency and second-language skills a big advantage for nursing professionals.

7. You pay attention to details

“Having attention to detail is critical,” says Thea Stadden, RN and founder of Nurses of Tomorrow. “This makes sure you’re giving the right amounts of medicine to patients and at the correct times.”

It’s easy to see why this is so important—mistakes with medication or other treatments can lead to serious harm. Nurses need to keep a sharp focus as they work with multiple patients. During busy times, you may feel rushed to keep up with patient needs. Your best approach in these situations is to keep your head and meticulously tend to patients.

“A good nurse needs to stay on top of details and double-check all work,” Stadden says.

8. You want to make a difference

Most people can remember a time when a nurse made a difference in their lives. Whether that was during labor, your elementary school nurse when you got sick during gym class, or a caring individual who provided healthcare to a loved one in a key moment. The biggest sign that you are ready to become a nurse is that you are ready to make a difference in the lives of other people.

“It’s true that as a nurse you can make good money. But you need to know that as a nurse, it’s not about the money. It’s about caring and loving people who cannot take care of themselves or who need someone to help them with daily activities that they can no longer do,” says Kescia Bresil-Chery, an RN at Connect RN. “You become a nurse because you love people, you want them to feel good emotionally and physically, and you want to provide the highest quality care to patients.”

Bresil-Chery says that while it’s true that a nursing career can provide solid earning potential, she warns that a good nurse’s motivation shouldn’t be found solely in their pocketbook.

“Become a nurse because you love people and want to help them, not because you want the money. If that’s the only reason you’re in it, you’ll come to regret your career choice.”

Are you destined to become a nurse?

If these signs resonated with you, it might be time to take the next step on your path to nursing. There are many different professional tracks within the field of nursing. Learn more about your options and the process of becoming a nurse How to Become a Nurse: A Beginner’s Guide.

1Gallup Polling, Nurses Continue to Rate Highest in Honesty, Ethics [accessed June, 2020] https://news.gallup.com/poll/274673/nurses-continue-rate-highest-honesty-ethics.aspx

About the author

Anjali Stenquist

Anjali Stenquist is a content writer for Collegis Education who writes student focused articles on behalf of Rasmussen University. She is passionate about helping students of all backgrounds navigate higher education.

Rasmussen blog author

Related Content

Related Content

This piece of ad content was created by Rasmussen University to support its educational programs. Rasmussen University may not prepare students for all positions featured within this content. Please visit www.rasmussen.edu/degrees for a list of programs offered. External links provided on rasmussen.edu are for reference only. Rasmussen University does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced. Rasmussen University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, an institutional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

logo-accreditation-acen logo-accreditation-ccne chart-credential-laddering-associates-bachelors-masters 0 Credits 90 Credits 180 Credits 48 Credits Start Here HIGH SCHOOL GRADS Start Here TRANSFER STUDENTS Start Here SECOND DEGREE PURSUERS End Here ASSOCIATE'S DEGREE Start Here MASTER'S DEGREE PURSUERS End Here BACHELOR'S DEGREE End Here MASTER'S DEGREE chart-credential-laddering-associates-bachelors 0 Credits Start Here HIGH SCHOOL GRADS Start Here TRANSFER STUDENTS 90 Credits Start Here SECOND DEGREE PURSUERS End Here ASSOCIATE'S DEGREE 180 Credits End Here BACHELOR'S DEGREE chart-credential-laddering-msn chart-credential-laddering-nursing-programs chart-credential-laddering-post-grad-np chart-credential-laddering-nursing DNP MSN RN to BSN LPN to RN Bridge Accelerated BSN Professional Nursing ADN Practical Nursing Diploma Pre-Licensure Post-Licensure icon-colored-outline-bank icon-colored-outline-certificate icon-colored-outline-circle-dollar-sign icon-colored-outline-folder-search icon-colored-outline-hand-heart icon-colored-outline-head-blocks icon-colored-outline-head-cog icon-colored-outline-head-heart icon-colored-outline-health-plus-leaves icon-colored-outline-hospital icon-colored-outline-lifelong-learning icon-colored-outline-light-bulb-analytics icon-colored-outline-location-pin icon-colored-outline-magnifying-glass icon-colored-outline-monitor-healthcare icon-colored-outline-monitor-paper-search icon-colored-outline-nurse-rays icon-colored-outline-padlock-shield icon-colored-outline-person-presenter-screen icon-colored-outline-scales ras-logo-flame ras-logo-horizontal ras-logo-stacked icon-colored-advance icon-colored-arrows-cross-curve icon-colored-briefcase-star icon-colored-build icon-colored-bulb-analytics icon-colored-certificate icon-colored-continual-development icon-colored-duo-chatbox icon-colored-folder-mortarboard icon-colored-forward-ribbon icon-colored-gears-clock icon-colored-globe-pen icon-colored-growth icon-colored-hand-bubble icon-colored-hand-stars icon-colored-hands-gear icon-colored-head-blocks icon-colored-head-cog icon-colored-health-plus-leaves icon-colored-hospital-building icon-colored-laptop-cbe-skyscraper icon-colored-laptop-checkmark icon-colored-laptop-webpage icon-colored-location-map icon-colored-location-pin icon-colored-monitor-paper-scan icon-colored-mortarboard-dollar icon-colored-national icon-colored-people-chat-bubbles icon-colored-person-cheer-star icon-colored-person-laptop-checkboxes icon-colored-person-screen-instructor icon-colored-person-whiteboard icon-colored-phone-chatbox icon-colored-police-light icon-colored-prep icon-colored-presenter icon-colored-regional icon-colored-save-time icon-colored-shirt-hat icon-colored-skyscraper icon-colored-state icon-colored-student-centered icon-colored-support icon-colored-world-experience icon-triangle-arrow-up-plant icon-triangle-calendar-pencil icon-triangle-clock-rotating-arrows icon-triangle-display-gears icon-triangle-hand-right-speech-bubble icon-triangle-laptop-coding-brackets icon-triangle-mortarboard icon-triangle-paper-ribbon icon-triangle-person-cheer-star icon-triangle-person-juggle icon-triangle-triple-people-chat-bubble icon-modality-campus icon-modality-field icon-modality-online icon-modality-residential icon-arrow icon-bank icon-camera icon-filter icon-general-chart icon-general-connect icon-general-degree icon-general-discuss icon-general-email icon-general-find icon-general-hat icon-general-heart icon-general-laptop-building icon-general-laptop icon-general-leader icon-general-map icon-general-money icon-general-paperwork icon-general-people icon-general-phone icon-general-speak-out icon-head-heart icon-info-circle icon-mail-forward icon-mglass icon-play-solid icon-quote-mark-left icon-quote-mark-right icon-scales icon-share-square-o icon-simple-chat icon-simple-desktop icon-simple-find icon-simple-hamburger icon-simple-phone icon-spinner icon-tag icon-testimonial-quotes icon-util-checkbox-white icon-util-checkbox icon-util-checked-white icon-util-checked icon-util-chevron-down icon-util-chevron-left icon-util-chevron-right icon-util-chevron-up icon-util-circle-arrow-down icon-util-circle-dot icon-util-language-switch icon-util-loading icon-util-open-window-link icon-util-pdf-link icon-util-refresh icon-util-x rebrand-arrows icon-social-facebook-colored icon-social-facebook-square-colored icon-social-facebook-square icon-social-facebook icon-social-google-plus-square icon-social-google-plus icon-social-instagram-colored icon-social-instagram icon-social-linkedin-square-colored icon-social-linkedin-square icon-social-linkedin icon-social-pinterest-p-colored icon-social-pinterest-p icon-social-twitter-colored icon-social-twitter-square icon-social-twitter icon-social-youtube-play-colored icon-social-youtube-play graduate-cap-star-coin hand-coin hand-heart nurse-stethoscope-rays card-send-smile person-yoga-pose suitcase-star