Why Soft Skills Still Matter in Today’s Nursing Roles

Nursing requires a vast amount of knowledge and skills. Whether RN, LPN or CNA the clinical education and primary skill set necessary to the degree initially comes from their studies. However, most of the essential skills required to excel in their chosen field come from experience. Working with patients at bedside or in a healthcare setting help nurses hone their interpersonal skills which are often the cornerstone of what makes a great nurse. 

Hard skills such as those documented on a resumé or job application are often technical and easy for a potential employer to verify. A nursing degree, previous experience and applicable certifications are easily verified and appreciable hard skills a nurse brings to the job. But it’s far more difficult for applicants to convey their aptitude when it comes to those intrinsic qualities that are equally, and often more,  as important as the hard skills of nursing.

Recognizing Soft Skills Matter in Today’s Nursing Roles

Healthcare organizations as well as nurse educators and nurse leaders recognize the need for so-called soft skills for today’s nurses. Soft skills still matter as much as ever but perhaps even more so in the wake of a crisis in healthcare such as the Covid pandemic. Strengths like being able to communicate clearly with patients, show respect for their coworkers and peers, take ownership when they make mistakes and delegate certain tasks responsibly are the soft skills that still matter in today’s nursing roles.

Be assured the term “soft skills” doesn’t diminish the importance of these features. Soft skills are, in essence, those attributes that make a qualified nurse a more desirable caregiver. These qualities allow caregivers a great rapport, professionally, with patients and peers alike, and showcase strengths as a nurse. 

The NIH published a study in which senior nurses observed the soft skills practiced by those nurses new to the field. The results of the study indicated the soft skills that are necessary to nursing. Soft skills influence leadership abilities significantly but they are also very valuable in general nursing and enhance the knowledge and skills learned as a requirement for a degree.

Is it Possible to Learn Soft Skills?

Many of the soft skills that are most valuable are, in essence, qualities, traits and attitudes that come naturally to some people. Those innate character traits are often honed and developed through clinical experience but some nursing programs recognize the value of these qualities as essential to quality nurses. Many nursing programs include the development of these skills in their curriculum. 

Nurses who call on their soft skills as part of their day to day job not only forge professional relationships well with those around them but are able to instill confidence in patients. Patient satisfaction improves as the nurse-patient relationship grows. 

What Are The Most Important Soft Skills?

Those nurses who possess well-developed soft skills are much more desired by healthcare organizations. Here we take a deep dive into those qualities and demonstrate how soft skills are a major influence on patient satisfaction, staff satisfaction and the success of your healthcare organization. So just what are those soft skills and why do they still matter in today’s nursing role?

  • Good Communication
  • Professional Attitude
  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • Team Player
  • Compassionate 
  • Resilient 
  • Stress Management and Able to Work Under Pressure
  • Accountable 

A Deeper Look at Soft Skills That Matter in Nursing

Healthcare encounters are judged by patients and their families and these assessments underscore the reputation of your healthcare organization. It is essential to the success of your facility and organization that patients recognize the care they receive as quality. To that end potential nursing staff should demonstrate these soft skills.

Good Communication

A valuable nurse must be confident in their ability to communicate effectively not only with patients and their family but also those with whom they work. The goals of the healthcare team aren’t realized without clear and precise verbal and written communication. When communication breaks down, either within the team of caregivers or between the nurse and patient, the goal is that much more difficult to achieve.

For nurses communication skills are truly a matter of life and death. Ongoing treatment, expectations and interventions must be expressed clearly to all involved. As an effective communicator a nurse needs to ask questions, verify understanding of information and ensure there is no confusion in the delivery. 

Professional Attitude

Conveyance of professionalism instills confidence. From providing bedside patient care, administering meds, handling procedures, discussing care with family or charting the nurse must demonstrate a professional attitude. Difficult or distraught patients and family members may present a challenge but a nurse who maintains her professional attitude by showing the patient dignity and respect is an asset to any healthcare organization.

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

Most nursing students recognize and have put into practice their soft skills involving critical thinking and problem solving. Being able to take clinical knowledge and apply it to real-life scenarios may actually save a life. Precision thinking, clear judgment and logic are necessary to solving problems and making solidly sound decisions. Critical thinking is a very necessary soft skill for today’s nurses.

Team Player

The phrase “works well with others” certainly applies to nursing. Healthcare teams are filled with many different professionals and, of course, many different personalities. But the fact is all involved share the same goal that is the patient’s well-being. The ability of doctors, nurses, therapists and healthcare professionals to work together as a team affects the patient’s outcome.

Teamwork means having an understanding of the organization’s culture, protocols and hierarchy obviously. However teamwork also involves things like conflict resolution, willingness to step up for a coworker, honesty, strong self-discipline and humility.

When the team works cohesively it goes a long way toward job satisfaction and a positive working environment. This, in turn, helps prevent burnout and increases the opportunity for staff retention


By nature and definition the majority of nurses are compassionate. That’s part and parcel of a career in healthcare. Empathy and compassion are necessary soft skills when patients are scared, anxious, overwhelmed and in pain. 

Devastating diagnoses and results that aren’t what they hoped cause extreme reactions in many patients and their families.  Their compassion a nurse shows all concerned at a very vulnerable point in their lives is essential to the care of the patient. 

A nurse who provides empathy and compassionate care is very beneficial to the patient experience. When a nurse lacks compassion that comes across to patients and coworkers as uncaring. For a nurse to lack compassion is simply unacceptable. That is why this is a soft skill that matters a great deal in today’s nursing roles.

So how is compassion demonstrated? Compassion in nursing begins with the basics. Fundamental care such as assistance in daily tasks like toileting, hygiene, meals and comfort begin with a compassionate caregiver. Understanding patients’ needs and seeing that they are met with kindness, dignity and respect is a hallmark of a compassionate nurse who employs soft skills that still matter in today’s nursing roles.


The resilience a nurse possesses is essential to their ability to work for the long haul. If one of your top goals is staff retention then this soft skill is necessary. Everyday nurses are witness to life and death situations. Ample opportunity is there to throw a setback in their direction via their patient’s care. If a nurse is resilient the setbacks and even the devastations don’t knock them off their feet. 

A resilient nurse keeps patient care goals front and center but also is in touch with their own mental and emotional wellness. The immediate environment of the healthcare facility can change at any moment. Emergencies and the stress that surrounds them pose a threat to the wellbeing of the most resilient caregiver. Knowing how to identify these issues is a very necessary tool and one that should always be supported by a caring and invested employer. 

Stress Management and Ability to Work Under Pressure

Caregiver burnout is a very real and challenging byproduct of a nursing career. Nursing can become emotionally draining and when a nurse isn’t capable of managing the stress burnout festers. Long shifts, difficult patients, irritated coworkers and seemingly endless patient needs provide fertile soil for dissatisfaction and stress. These things take a toll to be sure.

Managing these challenges in an emotionally sound way is vital for nurses. Having the tools to do so comes from a workplace that recognizes the stress of the job and provides solutions. Being a nurse is hard. Soft skills in the way of stress management absolutely come from within however if the stress isn’t acknowledged and the response isn’t supportive healthcare organizations risk losing quality nursing staff.

Maintaining Accountability

Nurses are constantly called upon to update their skills and patient care knowledge. A self starting personality trait is great but in the end being accountable and responsible is a necessary soft skill that helps nurses remain competent and confident.

Accountability is important for self-examination as well as self-improvement. As part of a team the nurse who demonstrates accountability is often seen as someone who possesses leadership qualities. This team member improves the overall response of the healthcare team,   even across disciplines. A nursing staff member who is accountable is vital to the patient’s outcome.

Nurses are At The Center of Healthcare 

Make no mistake, nurses are at the center of healthcare. Why else would the healthcare community be up in arms over the current nursing shortage. If your organization wants to ensure a solid reputation in healthcare as well as recognition as a desirable workplace that attracts quality hires, look toward the nurses who possess these soft skills.

The ever-changing environment of healthcare requires a large amount of flexibility and coping skills that go beyond the norm. Competence is easy to measure through job history and resumé content. However the confidence and innate qualities of nursing that matter in today’s nursing roles come from soft skills. 

Find The Skilled Nurses Your Organization Needs

Soft skills matter a great deal in today’s nursing roles, as you can see. But not all nurses possess these traits. The great ones do and they are waiting to hear from you.  For more on how your healthcare organization can find the right staff member to take you to great heights contact BOS Medical Staffing.

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