Nurses are expected to be skilled in patient care areas, including recording patient data, handling emergencies and taking vital signs. Along with developing these technical skills in school, nursing students must develop their soft skills to become well-rounded and effective professionals.

You might be the best nurse in the hospital at intubating patients or finding difficult veins for IVs; however, without the proper soft skills, your services would be lacking. Having the ability to communicate well with colleagues, collaborate with others and empathize with patients facing difficult moments is all part of being a well-rounded nurse. Sometimes, soft skills can be overlooked, but this does not make them any less important.

What are soft skills?

These interpersonal skills and character traits characterize a person’s relationship with others. In most work environments, soft skills complement hard skills or a person’s knowledge and occupational skills.

To put the term into context, sociologists might refer to soft skills as an individual’s emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) rather than their intelligence quotient (IQ). The skills have more to do with people than what they know. They include character traits that determine how well a person interacts with others and are a significant part of an individual’s personality.

In today’s competitive labor markets, employees who demonstrate a good combination of soft and hard skills are often in greater demand for their services. This applies especially in the medical field, where these skills are a prerequisite.

Hard versus soft skills

Employees learn to master hard skills through formal education, concentrated effort and training programs. Hard skills are quantifiable skills that workers must have to perform a specific job successfully. Employers often evaluate a candidate’s hard skills before hiring them.

While hard skills can be learned and perfected over time, soft skills can be more difficult to acquire and improve. For instance, a nurse would require soft skills such as active listening, empathy, understanding and a good bedside manner. The hard skills they would require would include things such as comprehension of illness, the ability to run tests and the ability to interpret signs and symptoms.

Soft skills required by nurses

Nurses are medical professionals who work in various areas within the health industry. Their scope of practice differs depending on their education level and career choice, among other factors.

Nurses assist doctors and other medical professionals in providing quality patient care regardless of their specialization or position. To achieve this, nurses must have soft skills.

These skills help them to succeed in their role. Nurses need these skills in addition to their technical abilities such as diagnosing patients and providing patient care.

Soft skills are inherent in a nurse’s work ethic and personality, like any profession. They are vital in assisting nurses to adapt to their environment while providing the best patient care. Additionally, they may help nurses develop other vital skills.

One can develop soft skills through nursing practice, the nurturing of natural abilities or experience. You can develop these skills independently, whereas developing hard skills typically requires specific training.

Understanding the top skills nurses need is beneficial if you want to pursue a career in nursing. Developing sufficient soft skills as a nurse can help you advance in your career and offer quality care to patients.

These are some of the soft skills you will need as a nurse:

Stress management

As a nurse, you are always working in a fast-paced environment. You are tasked with the responsibility for the care of patients with different degrees of illnesses. In addition, you might have to manage several patients during a shift, which can result in a significant workload.

It is vital to develop strong skills to manage the pressure of your workload. These skills will assist you in focusing on the job and dealing with anxiety. Stress management skills can also help nurses develop a better work-life balance. This will allow them to separate themselves from work when they are at home.

Conflict resolution

This is the ability to negotiate between two parties to come up with a reasonable solution. Nurses can use this skill to settle disputes between nurses, doctors, and patients.

For instance, if patients disagree with a treatment plan, they might become frustrated. A nurse will need to find a way of cooling the patient down. They may offer alternative solutions to help patients understand and improve their health without altering as many aspects of their lifestyles.

Active listening comes in handy on matters of conflict resolution. As a nurse, you must develop this skill to hear both sides of a conflict before deciding on the best way forward.


Communication skills encompass sharing thoughts, feelings and information in non-verbal, verbal and written ways. Nurses need these skills to communicate with patients and share their thoughts and observations with colleagues.

Maintaining contact with your colleagues regularly will ensure that you share the necessary information with them regarding the care of patients. Communication skills are also vital when you are writing patient reports, which is one of the crucial parts of a nurse’s job.


This is a skill that allows you to make connections with others. With professional networks, you will reach out to others in your network for education, job opportunities and advice.

If you plan to become a travel nurse, professional networks can play a vital role in your career. As a travel nurse, you will depend on your networking skills to access new job opportunities once your contract expires. This will help ensure that there are no unwanted gaps in your employment.


Nurses are typically part of large medical teams that include doctors, nurses, nursing assistants and orderlies. When developing teamwork skills, you must practice other abilities, such as maintaining a positive attitude, working towards the common goal and motivating your colleagues.

As a nurse, you must have the necessary teamwork skills and be willing to assist your colleagues with difficult tasks. In addition, your skills should help the team achieve both short- and long-term desired goals.


Nurses require problem-solving as part of their soft skills to find alternative solutions to any issues that arise in the workplace. The issues might include resource allocation, conflicts in scheduling or potential problems with patients.

Critical thinking is a prerequisite for problem-solving issues. You will need to think clearly to assess the situation, and then your problem-solving skills will help you to identify a resolution. Additionally, these skills can help prevent similar problems from occurring in the work environment.


Empathy is the ability to express care and concern for others, especially in difficult situations. Nurses need this skill as they often interact with patients experiencing pain and worrying conditions.

Patients will feel much better when a nurse expresses empathy. They will also feel more comfortable in that nurse’s care, which will help build a healthier work environment and trust.

Expressing compassion may also assist nurses in becoming more confident in unfamiliar or diverse settings since they will appreciate different experiences and perspectives. Additionally, healthcare professionals who show empathy often have high emotional intelligence levels, which is also critical in the care of patients.


Presenting yourself effectively and assertively is referred to as confidence. Nurses can develop this skill to assist patients to feel more at ease in providing their care.

Confidence also enables nurses to communicate their concerns with doctors as well as other nurses regarding patients. This may be necessary when a nurse notices other signs or symptoms that their colleagues have not noticed. If you want to develop more confidence, you can study additional technical skills to improve your proficiency and to feel more comfortable with your capabilities as a nurse.


Professionalism is the capacity to remain calm, considerate and reliable under pressure. Nurses must conduct themselves professionally since they regularly talk to patients about critical subjects and interact with people when they have different viewpoints without displaying any biases of their own.

By maintaining professionalism, nursing professionals help contribute to a safe, productive and healthy workplace. They also help raise the standard of care they provide patients by remaining professional in difficult circumstances.


Your capacity to adapt can help you succeed in various professional settings. For instance, nurses in triage or urgent care roles discover that becoming adaptable can aid them when their workload varies based on their work shifts.

You might think about honing similar abilities such as observation to make yourself more flexible in your workplace. Being adaptable can also help you anticipate shifting environments and keep an eye on your attitude to ensure you’re open to and prepared for change.


Teaching others about a given subject and providing instructions for particular tasks are examples of instruction abilities. This is a useful ability as nurses must frequently explain treatment plans to patients. The likelihood that the patient will follow your instructions and recover can be increased by your ability to give clear instructions. Additionally, nurses can use these abilities to assign tasks to orderlies and nursing assistants.

To improve your teaching talents, patience and communication skills are required so you can clearly outline the steps others might take to complete a task and remain composed and open to any queries they might have.

How nurses can improve their soft skills

While it is true that soft skills are inherent and might not be easy to improve or learn like hard skills, you can take several steps to improve your soft skills through self-awareness. These steps include:

Continuous learning

Continual learning is essential for enhancing nurses’ soft skills. Nurses can improve their knowledge and abilities by taking advantage of professional development opportunities and continued education. Enrolling in a nursing program at a reputable institution such as Holy Family Nursing Online can allow you to hone your soft skills while advancing your nursing knowledge. A variety of advanced nursing courses are available online, which allow you to prepare for more responsibilities as you continue working.

Nurses’ professional development benefits from workshops, seminars and conferences that emphasize interpersonal, leadership and communication skills. Nurses can adapt to changing healthcare trends and provide patients with high-quality treatment by staying current on the latest research and best practices in the field.

In addition, nurses can stay current on developments in their industry and continuously hone their soft skills by actively seeking learning opportunities.

Deliberate efforts toward effective communication

An essential component of nursing practice is effective communication. Active listening, which entails completely engaging with patients, comprehending their concerns and responding sympathetically, can help nurses become more effective communicators.

The ability to communicate clearly and succinctly when speaking allows nurses to deliver information and support productive patient-provider interactions. Developing non-verbal communication abilities also helps nurses connect with patients by expressing empathy through body language and facial expressions.

Nursing professionals should consistently improve their communication skills by asking for feedback from coworkers and patients. This can offer insight on their communication strengths and areas for development.

A focus on empathy and compassion development

To deliver all-encompassing, patient-centered care, nurses must possess empathy and compassion. Putting oneself in the patient’s position, comprehending their emotional condition and expressing genuine care for their welfare are all part of developing empathy.

By carefully listening to patients and their families and offering consolation, support and assurance, nurses can improve their capacity to demonstrate compassion. Fostering empathy in tough circumstances, such as breaking bad news or helping distressed patients, strengthens patient-provider interactions and encourages trust. Nurses may foster a caring environment for their patients by putting empathy and compassion first.

Learning how to resolve conflicts

For nurses to successfully navigate difficult situations, they must possess conflict resolution and problem-solving skills. A happy workplace and the best patient care are promoted by the healthcare team’s development of conflict management and problem-solving skills.

Nurses can acquire conflict resolution skills through active listening, empathy and compromise to encourage honest dialogue and identify win-win solutions. In addition, developing problem-solving and critical thinking abilities helps nurses evaluate complex patient circumstances, spot potential care hurdles and put effective remedies in place.

Improving their ability to work with others

Working with interdisciplinary teams encourages a team-based approach to problem-solving and improves the standard of care for patients. Teamwork and collaboration are crucial in healthcare environments because they encourage smooth coordination between healthcare providers and enhance patient outcomes. By cultivating strong relationships with colleagues and actively taking part in team activities, nurses can enhance their abilities to work in teams and collaborate.

The provision of comprehensive patient care depends on the development of strong interpersonal skills. These skills support efficient communication and collaboration among healthcare professionals from many disciplines. A supportive and cohesive work atmosphere is created by nurses who encourage a culture of respect, trust and open communication within the healthcare team, ultimately improving the standard of patient care.

Working on their emotional intelligence and self-awareness

Emotional intelligence and self-awareness are essential for nurses to handle the emotional demands of their line of work successfully. Nursing professionals can find areas for improvement and personal growth by reflecting on their strengths and flaws.

Understanding and controlling emotions in high-stress situations is part of developing emotional intelligence, which aids nurses in maintaining professionalism and offering compassionate care. Requesting feedback from peers and superiors can also help you identify areas where you can improve while also increasing your self-awareness. Nurses can effectively control their emotions and respond empathetically to their patients’ needs by developing self-awareness and emotional intelligence.

Developing cultural sensitivity

It’s crucial to have cultural sensitivity while serving patients from various origins with high-quality care. Nurses can increase their cultural competency by becoming more aware of various cultural practices, beliefs and values.

Nurses can provide culturally sensitive care that respects and celebrates cultural diversity by learning and understanding more about various cultural backgrounds. Active listening, respect and good communication are necessary to develop trust and rapport with patients from various cultural backgrounds. To provide patient-centered care that is in line with cultural preferences and needs, nurses must seek out opportunities for cross-cultural learning and training. This improves their cultural competency.

Working on their skills in time management and organization

For nurses to manage their tasks and deliver good patient care, time management and organizational skills are crucial. Setting realistic objectives, prioritizing work and using time wisely are all necessary for increasing productivity.

Nurses must improve their organizational skills to manage patient records, monitor medication delivery and coordinate care with other healthcare providers. It is possible to learn efficient time management techniques and obtain useful insights into handling the demands of the nursing profession by asking for advice from more seasoned nurses and mentors. Nurses can optimize their workflow, lower stress levels and provide high-quality patient care by strengthening their time management and organizational skills.

Providing better patient care with improved soft skills

Everyone has soft skills they have picked in their lives before working in the medical field. Yet, few people actively develop these skills when they land a job.

Paying attention to soft skills will pay dividends in the long run. As you improve your ability to communicate, empathize with patients and manage time, you will also improve your hard skills. Overall, this leads to better healthcare provision and better services, leading to improved health for all.