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What Makes A Great Registered Nurse This Year?

Posted by: Lynn Sedgwick

When it comes to recruiting or applying for a role, it’s critical to know both what you are looking for as an employer and what skills and attributes you need to have and evidence as a candidate.

Over the coming months, we will be sharing a series of posts to help you identify the skills and attributes of different roles to help you with both developing your talent pipeline and your career.

Today let’s talk about a critical role - that of the registered general nurse.

So, what makes a great registered nurse in today’s healthcare world?

It would be easy to finish this post here and say the correct qualifications and empathy.

However, in the current time and finance pressed world, an RGN must deliver so much more.

Today the nursing profession is as much about medical and technical knowledge, planning, organisation and constantly working under time pressures, as it is about kindness and caring for the whole person.

So here are several key attributes our nursing clients are looking for.

Qualified, Detailed and Organised

I have listed these three critical aspects of a nurse’s role together. In honesty, if you can’t give a big tick to these three traits, it’s unlikely you will be able to perform in the role.

Let’s take it as a given that you have all the relevant qualifications for the role you are applying for or the department you want to work in. 

As an RGN it is good to list out your relevant experience on your CV for the role for which you are applying. If you want to work in the care sector, where have you worked and what is your experience? 

If it’s a role working with young adults, can you demonstrate how you have used your skills where you have demonstrated a passion for the role?

All nurses have to have an eye for detail that they can later record, especially in the world of litigation in which we all work.  Using examples of the different systems you have used demonstrates your understanding about what are ‘must haves’ in the role.

A Great Problem Solver

As any nurse will tell you, problems can appear out of nowhere, yet must be handled immediately and to a high standard.

The ability to deal with problems quickly is a must-have quality in a great nurse alongside the skill to anticipate and address problems even before they arise, whenever possible.

This comes as a result of developing critical thinking, an essential trait that helps RGNs to judge the situations and take appropriate decisions.

Problem-solving isn’t only about delivering a practical procedure it also involves dealing with other members of the nursing team, possibly the police and of course patients’ families.


When you are dealing with the public and their expectations, it is critical to be on top of your game and to be professional yet empathetic in everything you say and do.

You might be at the end of a long shift and dealing with a challenging patient and their family might not be your ideal scenario. However, you must have the skill to put this to one side and provide the best experience possible; every time.

The hours are always going to be long especially in a time of government cuts and uncertainty; you must accept this as part of your role.

Outstanding Communication and Relationship Skills

An RGN can be working with a consultant one minute, a poorly patient the next, an overworked admin assistant or a distraught family, all within the space of an hour when they haven’t had time for lunch and have been ‘trying’ to get to the toilet for hours.

Welcome to the day in the life of an RGN!

With the scenario I have just painted being common, it’s imperative that the ability to communicate well and build good relationships is what makes a great RGN.

Nurses can solve problems only if they’re able to effectively communicate with patients and families, as well as the rest of the medical team they work with.

For patients, nurses are the face of the hospital and doctors depend on them for carrying out several tasks. A great nurse can strike the right balance between doctors’ and patients’ needs.


Have a conversation with a patient who is delighted with the recent medical treatment they have had, and the words, ‘great listener’ and ‘empathy’ are likely to be used.

It is the classic attitude everyone expects from a nurse - empathy.

In other words, the ability to share someone else's feelings or experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in that person's situation, and nurses are expected to do this daily.

The Ability to Handle Stress

Long hours, challenging situations, emotional rollercoasters and ill patients are all precursors to a stressful environment.

A nurse has to go through continuous mental and physical trauma and stress; it’s an undeniable part of the role.

The workload is heavy and hectic. In situations like these, it is critical to developing the skill to remain calm and focused no matter what is going on around you.

Then finally this….

A Sense Of Humour

In this post, I have highlighted some of the facts and truths about working as an RGN. Working in this role might be challenging but it’s also enjoyable; especially if you have a sense of humour, which is probably the prerequisite of a successful and fulfilled RGN!

Finding humour in difficult situations isn’t easy, but the nurses who can, manage stressful situations better.





About Clayton Recruitment

Clayton Recruitment has been partnering with organisations across the country since 1989 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability.

With specialist divisions covering Commercial, Financial, Industrial, Nursing, and Engineering appointments, on both a permanent and temporary basis. If you are looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

If you would like to download our latest interview checklist, you can do so here.

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