What Employers Look For When Hiring Graduate Nurses

February 28, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

See current opportunities

Being a good nurse is more than just having excellent academic knowledge about the various aspects of medicine. As several healthcare employers reveal, when they hire nurses, they look for a few non-academic core skills and competences. The four most important traits that they look for are communication skills, interpersonal skills, teamwork skills and empathy.

Medical work experience students in Tanzania Communication skills

For a nurse, communication skills are fundamental to delivering good patient care. Communication does not mean simply talking to patients. It goes beyond that. A nurse needs to listen patiently, synthesise the information and take appropriate action. Nursing is as much an art as it is a science and however technical the environments might be, the key to being efficient lies in the ability to communicate with others. Nurses play a key role in assessing, treating and caring for patients and their interpersonal skills are critical in the delivery and process of patient care.

Empathy and compassion

A good nurse nurses treats and cares for the whole person, not just the body. It is more than just performing your day-to-day duties. You’ll need to show compassion and patience, give generously of your time, be gentle in your attitude and tone of voice but be firm when necessary and give patients confidence that you know what you’re doing. These things make a good nurse and will make a huge difference to someone who’s ill, scared and in pain. This is what employers look for when appointing nurses. They want to hire a nurse who will make each patient feel special even if it’s just for a minute.

Empathy and compassion cannot be learned and do not depend on education or cultural background. There is no fixed formula for how to become a good nurse. Nurses must be able to read the situation and empathise with their patients and what they are going through.

Commitment can be demonstrated by participating in extra-curricular activities such as voluntary care work, where you can learn basic practical skills.

Interpersonal skills

Nursing is a unique skill. It requires a good knowledge base acquired through study, compassion, exceptional communication skills, a nurturing, caring attitude, common sense and a grounded understanding of the social aspects of human responses and behaviours.

When employers are in the process of hiring nurses, they look for individuals who are passionate about their chosen area and have a desire to improve the patient experience. Employers prefer to hire nurses who demonstrate an interest in their own personal development and provide examples of any voluntary work or of any contact they have had with people from different cultural backgrounds. Such applicants are likely to go the extra mile for the patients in their care.

A good team player

Being a good team player is a fundamental element of providing good nursing care irrespective of the client group. Every employer will list ‘must be a good team player’ as an essential requirement of the job. Nurses very rarely work by themselves. They form a part of a team comprising of physicians, surgeons and other healthcare professionals.