Nursing Skills List and Examples

Nurses discussing over documents in hospital
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Nursing is a difficult, rewarding profession that requires a variety of hard skills. Nurses need to have a lot of medical knowledge, and need to be able to perform certain procedures (such as giving vaccinations and drawing blood). These days, they also need to be tech-savvy, because they often have to update patient charts through a hospital’s online database.

However, nurses also need a number of soft skills.

They have to be patient and empathetic towards both patients and patients’ families. They need to have strong communication skills in order to relay information to patients and their families, and also to work effectively with doctors and other nurses.

Read below for a list of five of the most important nursing skills, as well as a longer list of other skills employers seek in nurses. Develop these skills and emphasize them in job applications, resumes, cover letters, and interviews. The closer a match your credentials are to what the employer is looking for, the better your chances of getting hired.

Keep in mind that this list is for RNs (registered nurses). Read here for a list of skills for nursing assistants, and here for a list of skills needed for nurse practitioners.

How to Use Skills Lists

You can use these skills lists throughout your job search process. Firstly, you can use these skill words in your resume.

In the description of your work history, you might want to use some of these key words. You can also add them to your resume summary, if you have one.

Secondly, you can use these in your cover letter. In the body of your letter, mention one or two of these skills, and give a specific example of a time when you demonstrated each of those skills at work.

Finally, you can use these skill words in your interview. Make sure you have at least one example of a time you demonstrated each of the top five skills listed here.

Of course, each job will require different skills and experiences, so make sure you read the job description carefully, and focus on the skills listed by the employer.

Also review our lists of skills listed by job and type of skill.

Examples of Nursing Skills

Communication
Nurses must have excellent communication skills because so much of what they do involves transmitting information, from instructing and educating patients to briefing doctors and other nurses on changes in a patient’s status. Matters are complicated by the fact that many patients know little about medicine, so health information must be translated into less technical terms. Communicating compassion, respect, and confidence to patients and family who may be frightened or angry is critical. Nurses also have to listen carefully to patients and family to collect important information.

Critical Thinking
Healthcare involves solving puzzles. While most nurses are not responsible for diagnosis or deciding on the course of care, they still must respond correctly to emerging situations, and their input is often invaluable.

Some of these decisions are obvious, based on established standards of care—but others are not. Critical thinking skills are highly valued in candidates for employment.

Kindness
Not all patients are pleasant and polite. Some are can be abusive or ungrateful. All deserve compassionate care. The ability to be kind and considerate to someone who is behaving badly, even in the face of one’s own discomfort and exhaustion, is critical in nursing.

Observation
Small, subtle changes, such as a strange odor to the breath or a detail of a patient’s lifestyle shared in casual conversation, could be very important diagnostic signs. While nurses are not typically responsible for diagnosis, the doctor might not be present when the change happens, or when the patient shares the information. Nurses have to notice these details and recognize them as important.

Physical Endurance
Nurses often have to move heavy equipment and even patients, and they work very long hours. Physical strength and endurance are therefore very important. Nurses who are not in good condition themselves are liable to develop health problems of their own, requiring care, rather than giving it.

Nursing Skills List

A – G

  • Accuracy
  • Adolescent care
  • Administration of medications
  • Antibiotic therapy
  • Assisting in surgery
  • Assisting with exams and treatment
  • Bedside monitoring
  • Bladder irrigation
  • Blood administration
  • Blood glucose testing devices
  • Cap change
  • Cardiac care
  • Care of gastrostomy tube
  • Catheter care
  • Catheterization
  • Central line dressing
  • Certifications
  • CCU
  • Chemotherapy administration
  • Communication
  • Critical thinking
  • Data management
  • Dialysis
  • Discharge
  • Documentation
  • Dressing application
  • Dressing change
  • Dry sterile dressing application
  • Electronic health records
  • Emergency room care
  • Empathy
  • Family education
  • Geriatric care

H – M

  • Healthcare software
  • Home care
  • Hospice care
  • ICU
  • Infection control
  • Injections
  • Interpersonal
  • Intramuscularly injections
  • IV therapy
  • Kindness
  • Lab testing
  • Leadership
  • Licensure
  • Listening
  • Maintaining patient charts
  • Management of open wounds
  • Maternal care
  • Medical/surgical
  • Medications
  • Monitoring vital signs

N – S

  • Neonatal care
  • Observation
  • Obstetrics
  • Operating room
  • Pain management
  • Patience
  • Patient assessment
  • Patient education
  • Patient evaluation
  • Patient history
  • Patient monitoring
  • Patient care
  • Pediatric care
  • Physical assessments
  • Physical endurance
  • Prenatal care
  • Psychiatric care
  • Record keeping
  • Rehabilitation
  • Seizure precautions
  • Shunt dressing change
  • Specific gravity
  • Sterile scrub sponge change
  • Suctioning of the tracheotomy tube
  • Surgical
  • Surgery preparation
  • Suture removal

T -  Z

  • Teamwork
  • Telemetry care
  • Time management
  • Total parenteral nutrition and lipids
  • Tracheotomy care
  • Transparent wound dressings
  • Urine testing
  • Venipuncture
  • Wet sterile dressing
  • Withdrawal of blood samples
  • Wound irrigation