Top skills nursing students need to succeed

The nursing profession is a popular and rewarding career in the health industry that requires constant learning, training, hard work and commitment. Nurses also require a specific and extensive set of clinical skills to perform their job and have competitive value. As the health care industry is constantly evolving, understanding the skills you need to succeed and quickly adapt is essential.

This blog will outline the top essential nursing skills required for a career as a successful nurse:

  • Hard skills for nurses
  • Soft skills for nurses
  • AHP Aged Care

Hard skills for nurses

Hard skills are the clinical nursing skills or expertise required for a career in nursing. These skills are typically job-specific and can develop through education and training, online courses, and on-the-job training. According to Indeed, vital hard skills a good nurse should prioritise and highlight on their resume include:

Basic care techniques and knowledge

Often times for patients, nurses are the first point of contact in a care team. Because of this, it is imperative that they know basic care techniques. This includes:

  • Assessing patients.
  • Obtaining vital sign measurements.
  • Giving injections.
  • Assisting with exams and treatment.
  • Understanding medical terminology.

Urgent care and emergency care

As you obtain knowledge and experience, you may want to specialise in a particular area of care. Each nursing job has its own set of technical skills. Areas of specialisation in nursing includes:

  • Emergency care
  • Intensive care
  • Adolescent care
  • Prenatal care
  • Paediatric care
  • Surgical care
  • Maternal care
  • Home care
  • Rehabilitation
  • Aged care

Patient transport

A nurse is responsible for the movement of patients whilst under their care. In conjunction with occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and ward staff, nurses also teach patients how to use their prescribed assistive devices. Transport skills nursing students need to succeed includes:

  • Explaining how to use equipment (e.g., crutches and wheelchairs).
  • Knowing how to use a wheelchair safely.
  • Moving hospital beds.
  • Moving the patient to a vehicle when discharged.

Patient and family education

Usually, a nurse engages in communication with a patient or their family members to help them learn more about what’s next. This may involve teaching them about treatments or after care. Nurses require education skills to:

  • Explain treatment.
  • Educate about disease, illness, or trauma.
  • Explain prescriptions and how often to take them.
  • Inform patients and/or their caregivers about potential infection or side effects.
  • Distribute information regarding infection control.
  • Outline pain management measures.

Patient care and safety

Ensuring the highest level of patient care and safety is essential in the nursing field. This extends beyond general tasks such as monitoring patient safety whilst in the hospital or when they return home. Nurses frequently practice the use of safety skills through preventing falls, ensuring medication accuracy, offering physical assistance, explaining safety needed at home, and infection control.

Technology skills

In today’s climate, remaining up to date with current health care technology is an essential nursing skill. Successful nurses are expected to have technology skills to complete the following tasks:

  • Maintaining electronic health records.
  • Setting up and monitoring equipment.
  • Keeping records.
  • Maintaining databases.
  • Documenting patient

Soft skills for nurses

Soft skills are non-technical skills that describe how you work and interact with others, and reflect your communication style, strong work ethic, and work style. Soft skills are important for many nurses who use communication, teamwork, and other interpersonal skills daily and cannot be taught through nursing school. According to Indeed, nurses should demonstrate the following soft skills:

Communication skills

Effective communication skills and active listening are important amongst fellow nurses in order to collaborate effectively. Everyday nurses must communicate with patients, their family members, and broader healthcare professionals. A nurse should have the ability to listen closely and understand patients’ concerns, a crucial element in deciding on the best treatment options.

Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills allow you to interact with other nurses in a positive and productive way. These skills allow for good communication between all team members including new nurses, and the ability to engage in effective conflict resolution when required. Along with professional experience, nurses should focus on interpersonal skills such as:

  • Dependability
  • Leadership
  • Cooperation
  • Patience
  • Motivation
  • Flexibility
  • Responsibility
  • Work Ethics


Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes to understand and share their feelings. Being empathetic helps you to better relate and respond to the experiences of others. As a nurse, you will work with patients facing various different health issues. Because of this, empathy is an important component of high-quality patient care. Soft skills related to empathy can include emotional intelligence, compassion, understanding, and responsibility.

Critical thinking skills

A nurse’s work environment is often fast paced, making critical thinking a necessary skill to assess situations and make educated decisions in a timely matter. Critical thinking skills needed by nurses are analytical thinking, creative thinking, interview skills. problem-solving, and open-mindedness.

Attention to detail

Nurses are responsible for patients’ lives and therefore must pay attention to detail to avoid mistakes. It is a nurse’s job to correctly document and record patient status and progress and ensure all information is current. Nurses should also carefully listen to patients regarding their symptoms or conditions to ensure medication is properly distributed. Detail-oriented skills include observation, organisation, focus, and patience.

Time management

Good time management skills can assist nurses in completing their daily to do list. Most nurses are expected to handle several patient cases at a time, so organising, prioritising, and management each one is essential. Sought-after time management skills include:

  • Communication
  • Goal Setting
  • Planning
  • Prioritisation
  • Stress Management
  • Delegation


The work environment of a nurse can be unpredictable as priorities, scheduling, and responsibilities change often. Nursing professionals must be flexible and able to quickly adapt to new patient requirements, long hours, and ever-evolving schedules. Time management is also part of being adaptable.

Ethics and professionalism

Nurses must follow a code of ethics both personally and professionally and be able to distinguish right from wrong. They should genuinely care with dignity for patients and display a professional attitude at all times. Professionalism skills include collaboration, respect, integrity, and discipline.

About AHP Aged Care

At AHP Aged Care, we provide temporary and permanent placements for allied health and nursing services within the aged care industry.

Unlike many recruiters, AHP Aged Care work alongside aged care providers across public and private health sectors, developing positive partnerships and aligning our innovative aged care services with their financial and clinical needs. Our team is composed of recruitment consultants who have spent years in the health and aged care space. Because of this, we fully recognise the challenges faced by the aged care industry and can leverage our knowledge in providing qualified and expert aged care staff that stimulate independence, dignity, comfort, and quality of life for all elderly patients.

Careers for registered nurses, enrolled nurses, and assistants in nursing

Rewarding career opportunities in nursing are available now. Discover your nursing career today with Australian Health Professionals.

Contact our head office team on 1800 247 677 to learn more about our available nursing jobs.

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Southport QLD


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