The Four Basic Personality Types of Nurses

Every profession has certain stereotypes about the people who work in it. But, like with most stereotypes, they aren’t always completely true. While certain professions may attract a certain type of person, the reality is that there are generally a few common personalities that show up at different jobs. Nursing is a field that certainly requires a few specific characteristics, like being self-driven and motivated, but there’s actually quite a diverse range of people who go into it. That’s not to say that there aren’t patterns and types, so without further ado, here are the four most common personalities found in nursing.

The Healing Angel

All nurses are healers; that’s just simply part of the job. It is a nurse’s main goal to help patients to heal from their wounds, diseases, and illnesses. However, the “healing angel” takes this a step further. This is the nurse that understands nursing to be their calling and purpose for being. Here are a few qualities of this type of nurse.

  • They are compassionate. All nurses are entrusted to offer compassionate care to patients, but the healing angel goes above and beyond. Instead of offering compassion because it is expected or obligated, they genuinely feel for patients and will do their best to ensure comfort and progress.
  • They put themselves last. These nurses are masters at putting others’ needs before their own. They’ll pick up shifts if needed or come in early or late to accommodate other nurses. Their drive for compassion ensures that they will put aside their own needs, including eating, drinking, and resting.
  • They suffer from burnout. Because these nurses just don’t stop working, they often experience higher levels of burnout than their colleagues. To curb this, healing angel nurses need to remember to make time for themselves every once in a while.
  • They find other ways to heal. When this type of nurse retires, they often seek other opportunities for nursing through volunteer projects. They may even opt for compassion-requiring specialties in clinical nursing like massage/reflexology, hospice, or holistic health.

The Adrenaline Junky

Nursing isn’t always about hand-holding and calm words; it often involves a lot of chaos and bodily fluids. The adrenaline junky nurse is one who isn’t squeamish and even gets a rush from intense medical situations.  You can expect to see some of the following characteristics in this type of nurse:

  • They create chaos. Because this nurse performs best under pressure and chaos, they tend to create it if there isn’t any naturally occurring madness.
  • They love gore. Have a patient with an infected wound that you’re feeling a little bit nauseous over? Grab your local adrenaline-loving nurse for assistance. They thrive on this sort of situation. They aren’t shy about getting into blood, guts, fluids, and every other disgusting thing that often shows up in nursing.
  • They have the best seat in the house for adrenaline. You can often find these nurses in high-pressure locations in the hospital. They are most often stationed in the ER or ICU but can also be found in ambulance teams or with cardiothoracic surgery. The more pressure and chaos, the better for these nurses.

The Praise Seeker

When going into nursing, you were probably told that it was a thankless job. And, well, it really is. Patients don’t understand how many hours you’ve been on your feet, only that you didn’t come running the second they called for you. Bosses and coworkers have all done what you are doing and don’t see the need to give thanks for every little thing – but that won’t prevent the praise seeker from trying!  Here’s what to look out for if you think you are dealing with this personality type:

  • They appear altruistic. This type of nurse puts on a bit of a show and wants coworkers to believe their motivations are selfless. They speak a bit too much about how wonderfully fulfilling nursing is. While nursing is fulfilling, it’s a bit strange to never have a complaint at all.
  • They fraternize with supervisors. There’s nothing wrong with being friends with your boss. But there is something a bit off about basing all of your social relationships on whether a person can offer you something – praise, a raise, or power. The nurse who seeks glory will find every opportunity to be known to influential people in the hopes of getting a bit of acknowledgement and public praise.
  • They may choose another route. Because this type of nurse is in it for the appreciation and not really for the act of doing good, they may not stick around with clinical nursing for very long because of that whole “thankless job” thing. Instead, they may branch off into teaching where they can receive the attention they yearn for. They may also seek further degrees, certifications, and titles in their efforts for validation.

The Delegator

The delegator is a type of nurse who intentionally seeks to not do some work. They may ask others to complete tasks, or they may simply avoid doing a task themselves and hope others pick up on it. If you’ve ever worked with someone with the following attributes, you know who the delegator is.

  • They are insecure. A confident nurse does not shy away from doing what needs to be done. They trust in themselves that they know what they are doing and go ahead and do it. The delegator, on the other hand, is unsure of herself and her abilities. Therefore, she often seeks ways to avoid doing the work that they are uncomfortable with.
  • They ask others to do their work. This is the “authoritarian delegator.” They identify tasks that need to be completed and ask others to do it. Because they do not shy away from assigning others tasks, these nurses often end up in management positions. Their insecurity is often disguised as leadership.
  • They avoid work. The “passive delegator” is one who doesn’t necessarily ask others to do work for them, but rather simply avoids the work in the first place. They may maintain a slow pace that lets others see that they are doing work without letting them in on the fact that they are working more slowly than necessary. Oftentimes, other nurses will pick up the slack without realizing they are doing extra work. These passive delegators will not usually go into management.

Final Thoughts

Nursing is a diverse field with lots of different types of people that work in it. And while it’s impossible to put every nurse into a box, the above are the four most common personalities you may encounter in your nursing journey. And while most people don’t fit just one category, they will exhibit tendencies of at least one of these personality types. Which one are you?

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