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Skills required


As a nurse you're a listener, a manager, and a knowledgeable skilled professional. 

Here are some of the key skills you will need to pursue a career in nursing:

Excellent people skills
You will be providing care for people of all ages and backgrounds. You should be able to put people at their ease, gain their confidence and deal sympathetically with their problems and fears.

Good communication and observation
Communication and observation are crucial to good nursing. You need to be a good at listening as well as talking and you have to be constantly alert to changes in patients' conditions and the implications in terms of care.

Ability to answer questions and offer advice
Nurses are the most frequent point of contact for patients, so you must be able to answer their questions, share your knowledge and skills with patients, their families and friends and make sure their needs are recognised by the rest of the care team.

Happy to work as part of a team
As a nurse you will be part of a multidisciplinary team that includes doctors, physiotherapists, anaesthetists, pharmacists, dietitians and many more. You need to know how all these different people work together.

Dealing with emotionally charged situations
Nursing can sometimes involve managing distress. You'll play a key part in helping patients and families come through their crises.

Values and behaviours

You'll also need to have the right values and behaviours to become a nurse. These are defined by the 6Cs:


Care defines nurses and their work. People receiving care expect it to be consistently right for them throughout every stage of their life.


Compassion is how care is delivered through relationships based on empathy, respect and dignity. It can also be described as intelligent kindness, and is central to how people perceive their care.


Competence means nurses must be able to understand an individual’s health and social needs. Their expertise, clinical and technical knowledge for delivering care and treatment must be based on research and evidence.


Communication is central to successful caring relationships and team working.
Listening is as important as what nurses say and do and critical to decisions about a patient.


Courage enables nurses to do the right thing for the people. It means speaking up when there are concerns and having the personal strength and vision to innovate and embrace new ways of working.


A commitment to patients and the public is essential to the working life of a nurse. 

More information

Read the full vision and strategy for nursing.