Should I Become a Nurse? 10 Signs Nursing Is for You

Female nurses laughing with arms around each other

If you’re passionate about healthcare and interested in a career that would allow you to help others, you might consider a career in nursing. You may be wondering, Should I become a nurse? or How do I know if I should be a nurse, exactly? These are common questions students have when contemplating their career choice.

Of course, only you can determine if a nursing career is the right choice for you. However, the following considerations offer some food for thought as you work through the decision-making process.

In This Article:

How Do You Know If You Should Be a Nurse?

A nursing career can be challenging and demanding, yet many can find personal fulfillment and a higher purpose in this profession. As a nurse, you would be applying your clinical skills to save lives or help patients manage and prevent chronic illnesses. Even if this sounds appealing to you, however, whether or not the day-to-day responsibilities will align with your preferences can be another matter.

Consider gaining some exposure to the healthcare field while you’re still in high school. Ask your guidance counselor about job shadowing opportunities and local volunteer positions in healthcare facilities. In addition, your guidance counselor may be able to connect you to one or two alums who became nurses, and these individuals might be willing to talk to you about being a nurse.

Should I Become a Nurse? Consider These Nursing Strengths

In addition to gaining some exposure to the healthcare field before heading off to college, it can be helpful to reflect upon the essential qualities of a nurse. As you read through the following list of important nursing strengths, consider whether you might already possess or are willing to cultivate these characteristics.

1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are among the most important qualities of a nurse. These include both written and verbal communication when interacting with both patients and coworkers.1,2

Communication skills are essential because nurses are among the main information gatherers in a healthcare organization. Although patients also interact with their physicians, the person with whom they will usually speak the most is their nurse. Nurses need to be able to elicit complete and descriptive information from their patients about their health histories, health concerns and symptoms, as well as matters such as how the patient has been managing their symptoms to date.

In addition, it’s helpful for nurses to understand how to read nonverbal communication skills. Some patients may be uncomfortable discussing certain things, even with a healthcare professional, and in some cases — such as domestic violence — patients may feel that disclosing some information will threaten their safety. It’s important to pick up on nonverbal cues that can tell a nurse the patient may not be disclosing everything.

2. Empathy and Compassion

Being a nurse requires both empathy and compassion. A compassionate person is motivated to help others due to altruistic reasons, and an empathetic person is able to put themselves in another person’s shoes, understanding and relating to what the other person is going through.1 Both of these are important qualities of a nurse, as they can help you establish rapport with your patients and help them feel that their concerns are heard and validated.

3. Professionalism

Conducting oneself in a professional manner involves much more than ensuring your scrubs are clean and that you greet each patient and coworker with a smile. In the nursing world, professionalism is also about maintaining appropriate boundaries. Yes, you need to have compassion for your patients, but you also need to establish emotional boundaries with your patients to prevent yourself from experiencing burnout. In addition, professional boundaries can aid the development of a trust-based working relationship with patients.2

There is another aspect of professionalism in nursing that shouldn't be overlooked. Professionalism also means following a code of professional ethics (e.g., always prioritizing the patient’s best interests and ensuring informed consent). 

4. Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills

Much like engineers, nurses are professional problem-solvers. It’s necessary to use critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills to solve problems as they arise. In other words, you’ll need to be able to think well on your feet and make appropriate clinical responses, sometimes in high-pressure situations. Nurses must follow a logical process: collecting information, analyzing the facts and selecting the appropriate response with an eye toward a favorable health outcome.1

5. Patient Advocacy

Patient advocacy is one of the nursing strengths that sets this profession apart from many others in healthcare. Healthcare crises can make patients vulnerable, confused and unsure of the right choice to make for their well-being. They need to be able to trust that their nurses have fully disclosed all relevant information to them and have recommended the best course of action.1

It's a common misconception that physicians are essentially the bosses of nurses. In fact, nurses can practice with a degree of autonomy (subject to state laws regarding practice authority), and they function as independent yet collaborative members of the healthcare team. When a nurse believes that a detail in a patient's treatment plan is incorrect or potentially dangerous, it's essential for that nurse to feel confident enough to speak up about this problem and advocate on behalf of their patient.

6. Professional Development

Nursing may be the right fit for you if you’re passionate about lifelong learning. Because the nursing field is continually evolving, it’s necessary for nurses to be willing to engage in continuing education practices.1 Nurses and patients can both benefit when nurses work toward learning new skills, such as during a graduate-level nursing education program.2

7. Emotional Resilience

Nursing can be an incredibly rewarding line of work because it gives professionals opportunities to save the lives of others or to help their patients enhance their quality of life through better health. Yet, not every patient can be saved, and not every patient may be willing to adhere to treatment recommendations. As a nurse, you will undoubtedly encounter some emotionally challenging situations, and it's important to know how to maintain emotional resilience and care for your own mental health.2

8. Leadership Skills

Leadership skills are another example of nursing strengths.1 Not every nurse holds a leadership title, like “charge nurse” or “nurse manager.” Yet, every nurse can function as a leader within their unit.

Being a leader in healthcare is often about setting a good example. You can become a role model in your unit by demonstrating professionalism and a commitment to ethics while striving to cultivate a positive, supportive workplace culture.

9. Physical Stamina

Nurses certainly don’t need to take fitness exams. It’s not necessary to be able to run a six-minute mile or do 100 pushups, for example. However, it can be helpful for nurses to possess physical stamina.3 Many nurses work long shifts, and sometimes those shifts can get unexpectedly longer if a coworker calls in sick or the unit becomes overloaded with extra patients.

In addition, nurses are nearly continuously on their feet, moving from one patient room to the next to provide care and then heading back to the desk to work on paperwork or make calls to patients’ families. Physical stamina can be helpful in this line of work, as can a well-cushioned pair of non-slip shoes.

10. Time Management

Speaking of rushing around during each shift, nurses must often provide care for many patients at once during any given shift. Time management skills are essential, along with the ability to prioritize tasks.3 You’ll need to be able to figure out which patient care tasks are most important and urgent so you can address those first.

Begin Your Career in Nursing With a Degree From GCU

If you’ve decided that you’ve got what it takes to become a nurse, you’ll find a welcoming learning community at Grand Canyon University. Apply today for enrollment in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (pre-licensure) degree program and prepare to provide evidence-based, ethical healthcare services to a diverse patient population. Fill out the form on this page to learn more. 

American Nurses Association. (2023, June 8). What are the qualities of a good nurse? Retrieved Feb. 21, 2024. 

Deering, M. and Bal, D. (2023, March 22). 10 crucial soft skills for nurses. Nurse Journal. Retrieved Feb. 21, 2024. 

Indeed. (2023, July 5). 10 must-have skills for your nursing resume. Retrieved Feb. 21, 2024.

Approved by the associate dean of the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions on March 27, 2024.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.