nursing typesNursing is as diverse as those who make it their career choice. However, there are certain basic traits inherent in all nurses. After a decade of fine-tuning my nursing skills in a variety of clinical settings, I have noticed the types of nurses that generally fall into four distinguishable personality.

1. The Excitement Junkie

This nurse has a penchant for blood and guts. The Excitement Junkie continually seeks the high of that epinephrine-rush inherent in life-and-death clinical situations. This nurse needs to work amidst tension and chaos and will create it, if necessary. The Excitement Junkie unwinds by watching Rescue 911 on TV. This nurse becomes wild-eyed over any Code Blue announcement, fire drill, or the alarm on a piece of bio-medical equipment.

Excitement junkies are found in the specialty areas of Med-Evac, emergency departments, ICU and CCU units, cardiac step-downs, acute hemo-dialysis, cardiothoracic and transplant surgical teams, ambulance transport teams, burns and trauma.

2. Glory and Praise Seeker

This nurse has a strong desire to look good in the eyes of others. This altruistic nurse wants to be seen as having selfless motivations. However, appearing good is not always synonymous with being good. Glory and Praise Seekers are experts at the “Genuflect and Pucker” maneuver. They may present a zealous discipleship to the philosophies of Nurse Empowerment and Professional Image. Their social relationships are based on affiliating with high-profile, influential persons.

Glory and Praise Seekers are found in all spheres of clinical practice, often quickly advancing to administrative positions. Many others retire early, because of the financial advantages of having married well, and go on to head their hospital auxiliaries. Other Glory and Praise Seekers are found on university campuses as professors of nursing or as professional students. They distinguish themselves from the mainstream with degrees, titles and publications.

3. Delegative

Nurses of the delegative personality type possess a basic insecurity of performance and strongly need to conceal it. They will do whatever it takes to successfully hide their imposter fears. This personality has two sub-divisions:

  • Authoritarian Delegative

    These nurses learned that overt displays of intimidation are effective. Authoritarian Delegative nurses apply the principles of Totalitarianism, learned at the Marquis de Sade and Benito Mussolini Schools, to control their work environments. Regardless of their chosen specialties, these nurses will always end up in management positions.

  • Passive Delegative

    Passive Delegative nurses are found in the mainstream of every clinical area, and rarely in management. These nurses are effective in delegation based on what they silently choose not to do. Often seen as “laid-back” or “casual”, they maintain an easy first-gear pace at work while others pick up the slack. On days when student nurses are co-assigned, the Passive Delegative nurse will have a three hour coffee break and do lunch for the remainder of the shift. These nurses don’t often attain material wealth, because of the generous manner in which they pass the buck.

4. Angel of Mercy

These individuals consider nursing is a calling. Sensitive and compassionate, they place their devotion to others before themselves. Angels of Mercy go to work in the worst of storms. They pick up extended and additional shifts whenever needed. Patients love to have Angels of Mercy, because all their needs will be met. These nurses often delay, in marathon fashion, personal needs for food and fluids, rest, elimination, and recreation. Many are expert instructors of Kegel exercises.

Nursing colleagues love to have Angels of Mercy around. Glory and Praise Seekers enjoy taking credit for their accomplishments. Excitement Junkies and Authoritarian Delegators verbally abuse them, since Angels of Mercy will not talk back, and Passive Delegators use them to lighten the work load.

However, since Angels of Mercy are human, their rate of burn-out is extremely high. If they remain in clinical practice, these nurses gravitate to specialties in hospice, holistic health, hypnotherapy, shiatzu massage, reflexology or herbal therapies. Upon retirement, if physical or mental health are not impaired from years of abuse, Angels of Mercy will often join the Peace Corps or assist in rebuilding war torn countries. These nurses have a strong need to be productive, even though rest and relaxation are more than overdue.

It is rare, although not impossible, to see the pure, stereotypical forms of these personality types for nurses. Further study is needed to learn how these four basic types are influenced by education, work environment, mentoring, and life experience.

Do you know of other types of nurses? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you!

By Suzanne M. Vargo, RN