What Am I Good At? Identifying Your Unique Nursing Strengths

By Debra Kirkley on Thu, Jul 25, 2013

good nursing, nursing strength, nursing career

I’m surprised at how quickly nurses tell me what they’re not good at. They tell me what they didn’t manage to get done that day, or the myriad ways they let their peers or patients down. Far less often does a nurse come to my office to say, “You know what? Today I realized I’m a really good at something.”

As I look across a nursing unit, I rarely see clones. Sure, all nurses on a unit have similar baseline skills, the skills needed to deliver safe patient care in their setting. But beyond that, there are always some who motivate patients with ease, and others who make great charge nurses, motivating their peers to take time for lunch. Are you the sensitive nurse-teacher, able to convince a shy student or orientee to try a new procedure? 

What are your unique strengths as a nurse?

  • Clinical/Technical Savvy

    You go to nursing conferences and participate in journal clubs. Colleagues seek you out when they can’t make sense of lab values, or clinical findings. Similarly, you’re probably the first to figure out how to program the new IV pumps or upload a document to your hospital intranet.

  • Service Ethic

    You’re the first to vol
    unteer and always willing to do more to help staff and patients. You may already chair the unit social committee. You make banners for new nursing grads when they pass NCLEX and you organize the staff to send a sympathy card when a colleague suffers a loss.
  • Psychomotor Geek

    You’re one of those nurses with a steady hand, a keen eye, a good eye-hand coordination, or a combination of those. You’re the one others seek out when they can’t get an IV started. You draw up meds quickly in a code, and who, despite the adrenaline rush, keeps her hands steady and keeps thinking ahead.

  • Interpersonal Savvy

    You get along easily with others, often sensing what they need. You excel at supporting patients and families. You clue in quickly to the exhausted wife sitting at her husband’s bedside needing someone to talk to. Your ability to connect with others probably makes you a good teacher as well, coaxing students and patients to learn by tuning into their strengths. 

Give some thought to the question, “What am I good at?” Are you tapping into your strengths to improve patient care on your unit? Could you use your skills to make your unit a better place to work? Could you team up with others, with like or complementary strengths, to complete a project that needs to get done? 

I’ve got a secret to share about job satisfaction: Celebrate what you’re good at, then figure out how to use that skill more often on the job.



Anonymous 3 years ago
Nice words, I think I found myself in it. I think I got skilful hands and good way in communication with nonconformists. Where my coleague nurse loses nerves, I will do some activities and say a few words to ease her. And application of i. v. cannulas is my speciality. :)

Anonymous 3 years ago
Thank you for writing this! Too often in nursing we forget to acknowledge our own skills that make us great. As the saying goes, it's not bragging if it's true. We need more writers like you telling us to simply like ourselves!

Anonymous 4 years ago
Thank you for the above article. I have a job interview tomorrow and the article helped me realize my strengths and weakness in nursing.

Anonymous 4 years ago
via NurseTogether Facebook page:

All of the above. With a smile.

Anonymous 4 years ago

I was called into the office today. I had errors on my blood paperwork. 5 sheets with no 15 minute vital signs. Each unit was in in 20 minutes. I remembered the patient. She had no bp when I came on at 1900. She died at 2105. Her family thanked me for my work. So did her doctor. I don't know why that is not enough for me. I come from the older generation where the opinion of authority figures is important to me. I am looking at jobs. It would be better for my family right now if I stay in the job I have. How do you deal with the nothing is ever good enough issues that seem to come from outside yourself.

Anonymous 4 years ago

thank you for sharing this kind of info. it help me a lot!!!:)

Anonymous 4 years ago

I loved your writing ! I saw my self while I was reading it. Thank you for vocalizing my strengths!!