Nursing Skills List and Examples

Nursing Skills for Resumes, Cover Letters and Interviews

Nurses discussing over documents in hospital
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Nursing is hard but rewarding work, and because there's an ongoing shortage of qualified applicants, there are plenty of jobs to go around. Getting one of those jobs cannot be a spur of the moment decision because nursing requires specific training programs and certifications or licenses.

In fact, there are multiple branches of nursing, each with its own educational requirements and licensure requirements.

Individual nurses often move through multiple branches as their careers progress, going back to school in order to earn the credentials necessary for greater responsibility on the job.

Regardless of what type of nursing you want to do, by the time you are ready to look for a job, you will probably be familiar with the skills employers are looking for. Until then, you can use the following list of nursing skills to help you decide whether a career in nursing is right for you. Reviewing our list of skills by job and type of skill may also help.

Types of Nurse Jobs

There are many different types of nurses, but most fall into the categories of LPN, RN, or NP.

Licensed Practitioner Nurses (LPNs), in some states called Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs), do basic patient care under the supervision of doctors or more highly trained nurses. They can enter the field simply by taking a short training program and passing a test.

Some find that an associate degree provides more career flexibility for the same certification. While the certification itself is national, state requirements for practice vary, so make sure your training program is approved by the state where you wish to work.

Registered Nurses (RNs) have more responsibility and make more money than LPNs.

To become an RN, complete an associate or bachelor’s degree program, and complete a national test—some states may require additional steps for state licensure. Periodic re-testing is also required. A master’s degree opens up further career options.

Nurse Practitioners (NPs) can do much of the work doctors normally do, though state law varies. To become an NP, first become an RN, then complete a graduate program, a required number of clinical hours, and an additional test. Additional, more focused training may also be required. Some NPs earn doctorates, especially if they want to get into administrative work.

More: How to Become a Nurse

Examples of Nursing Skills

Obviously, nurses must have appropriate technical and clinical skill relating to patient care. Acquiring those skills is what training is for. But there are other, less specialized skills nurses must possess, and these, too, can be learned and practiced.

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 of someone who is behaving badly, even in the face of one’s own discomfort and exhaustion, is critical in nursing.

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 valuable. 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.

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

Communication Skills
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 patient 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 and respect and confidence to patients and family who may be frightened or angry is critical. Collecting information from patients and family, even though they don’t know medical terms and don’t know what details are important, is also a challenge that must be met.

Observation Skills
Small, subtle changes, such as a strange odor to the breath or a detail of patient lifestyle conveyed 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. Nurses have to notice these details and recognize them as important.

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
  • Charge Nurse
  • Chemotherapy Administration
  • Communication
  • Data Management
  • Dialysis
  • Discharge
  • Documentation
  • Dressing Application
  • Dressing Change
  • Dry Sterile Dressing Application
  • Electronic Health Records
  • Emergency Room
  • Family Education
  • Geriatric Care

H – M

  • Healthcare Software
  • Home Care
  • Hospice Care
  • ICU
  • Infection Control
  • Injections
  • Interpersonal
  • Intramuscularly Injections
  • IV Therapy
  • Lab Testing
  • Leadership
  • Licensure
  • Maintaining Patient Charts
  • Management of Open Wounds
  • Maternal Care
  • Medical/Surgical
  • Medications
  • Monitoring Vital Signs

N – S

  • Neonatal Care
  • Obstetrics
  • Operating Room
  • Pain Management
  • Patient Assessment
  • Patient Education
  • Patient Evaluation
  • Patient History
  • Patient Monitoring
  • Patient Care
  • Pediatric Care
  • Physical Assessments
  • 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

  • Team Work
  • 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

Nursing Job Titles

A - D

  • Ambulatory Nurse
  • Behavioral Health Charge Nurse
  • Cardiac Catheterization Lab Nurse
  • Cardiovascular Operating Room Nurse
  • Case Manager
  • Certified Nursing Assistant
  • Charge Nurse
  • Charge Nurse-Crisis Stabilization Unit
  • Charge Nurse Critical-Labor and Delivery
  • Clinical Coordinator, Recovery Services
  • Clinical Liaison
  • Clinical Nurse Manager
  • Clinical Reviewer
  • Dermatology Nurse
  • Dialysis Nurse
  • Director of Nursing Services

E - M

  • Emergency Room Nurse
  • Endoscopy Nurse
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Flight Nurse
  • Health Facilities Surveyor  
  • Home Health Nurse
  • Hospice Nurse
  • House Supervisor Nurse
  • Intensive Care Nurse
  • Interventional Radiology Nurse
  • Labor and Delivery Nurse
  • Lead Registered Nurse
  • Legal Nurse Consultant
  • Licensed Practical Nurse
  • Medical Surgery Nurse
  • Mobile Director of Nursing Services

N - O

  • Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse
  • Nurse Anesthetist
  • Nurse Clinical Educator
  • Nurse Consultant 
  • Nurse Informatics Analyst
  • Nurse Manager - Surgery
  • Nurse Midwife
  • Nurse Paralegal
  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse Practitioner for Employee Health
  • Occupational Health Nurse 
  • Office Nurse
  • Oncology Nurse
  • Operating Room Nurse
  • Outreach RN

P - Q

  • Patient Access Supervisor
  • Patient Care Associate
  • Pediatric Endocrinology Nurse
  • Pediatric Intensive Care Nurse
  • Pediatric Nurse
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
  • Perioperative Nurse
  • Post Anesthesia Nurse
  • Postpartum Nurse
  • Progressive Care Nurse
  • Psychiatric Nurse
  • Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
  • Public Health Nurse

R - Z

  • Regional Kidney Smart Educator
  • Registered Nurse
  • Registered Nurse, Student Health Services
  • Registered Nurse - First Assistant
  • Registered Nurse-Telephone Triage
  • Restorative Nurse
  • RN-Geriatric Care
  • RN-Medical Inpatient Services
  • RN-Women's Services
  • RN Data Coordinator
  • RN Patient Call Center
  • Safety Surveillance Associate
  • School Nurse
  • Telemetry Nurse
  • Urgent Care RN
  • Wellness Nurse

Read More: Nursing Assistant SkillsLicensed Practical Nurse (LPN) Skills

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