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5 Soft Skills Nurses Need and How Our ABSN Program Teaches Them

What are nurses made of? These soft skills are important.

Do you have what it takes to be a nurse? If you’ve never worked in a health care setting before you likely lack the vital medical knowledge and practical skills nurses need to perform the critical aspects of the job.

But what about the “soft” skills, or the personality traits, that make great nurses? Organization, communication and problem solving skills — odds are you probably have at least some of these attributes.

While some soft skills come more inherently than others, we can help you acquire and fine-tune some of the others that will complement the top-notch medical knowledge and technical skills education you’ll receive via our 16-month Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program. Read on to learn about five soft skills that make great nurses and how Marian University’s ABSN program can help you enhance them.


If you have the ability to care for and about someone else and can easily put yourself in someone else’s shoes, you have this trait. In addition to the medical and technical knowledge you’ll need to succeed in this field, it’s an important soft skill nurses need to be successful in treating patients.

As a university with Franciscan roots, one of our core tenants is caring for the whole person — mind, body and spirit, says Tameria Cox, Director of Nursing Academic Services for Marian University’s ABSN program in Indianapolis.

“If we heal the medical ailments, but do not acknowledge the spiritual aspects of a being, they could still face great hardship,” she says.

As a result, ABSN students learn Franciscan values throughout the program, and are asked to identify how they embody these values while interacting with patients. Those values, and examples of ways students learn to demonstrate them, include:

  • Dignity of the Individual: Protecting patient information and providing privacy.
  • Responsible Stewardship: Being cognizant of how we use hospital resources.
  • Peace and Justice: Doing what is right.
  • Reconciliation: Trying to determine a win-win in an uncomfortable situation.

Communication Skills

Are you good at getting people to speak to you about personal issues? Are you a good listener? If so, great! You’ll use these skills daily as a nurse to help treat patients and take accurate notes from physicians and administrators.

If communication skills don’t come as naturally to you, don’t worry. Our simulation labs will acquaint you with various mock clinical scenarios, which involve performance debriefings with faculty and other members of your cohort. Then, once you move on to your clinical rotations you’ll feel better prepared to connect with patients and their families and communicate with other members of their care team.

Marian ABSN student with instructor in simulation lab

“The most surprising clinical to me was pediatrics. I was nervous about that – about working with kids – but it was such a wonderful experience. I learned a ton that had to do a lot more with dealing with families and communicating,” says Nick Wright, ABSN Class of 2016.


One of the benefits of our online-based ABSN program is the accessibility the online coursework provides. Students love that our e-learning management system allows them to read materials, listen to lectures and complete assignments and quizzes on their own schedule.

But just because coursework can be completed online doesn’t mean the program is easy. You’ll have to spend regular, focused time on assignments and studying to stay on top of deadlines and prepare for exams – a habit that will come in handy on the job as a nurse when managing patient care plans.

Marian ABSN student in clinical with female patient

“It was a transition at first to know how much to study for each course and know how to manage your time appropriately when you don’t have a set class schedule. But by the time you took the first test, and were like, ‘OK I either was or wasn’t prepared,’ then you learn how much you need to study and how much time is OK to spend on other activities,” says Allison Clark, ABSN Class of 2016.

Critical Thinking Skills

You’ll no doubt put the practical skills and medical knowledge you learn in nursing school to good use throughout your nursing career. But they’ll only get you so far if you lack the ability to think critically, especially when it matters most in emergency situations.

You’ll find no black-and-white answers exist to the questions on your exams; rather, it’s a matter of finding the “most right” response to any particular situation.

The same is true during your clinical rotations and in the real world: most patient care scenarios fall into a gray area. As a nurse, your job will involve developing the most appropriate treatment plan for your patients — sometimes quickly and sometimes without the ability to ask them what’s wrong.

Marian ABSN student in clinical with male patient

The Marian University ABSN program’s curriculum is designed to prepare you to be a nurse and get you used to thinking on your feet through risk-free simulation labs, varied clinical experiences and online-based theory courses. In fact, as an ABSN student, you will also complete the Kaplan® NCLEX Test Prep to keep your problem-solving skills sharp and prepare you for what’s to come in your nursing career.


Part of a nurse’s job description involves following, or sometimes helping create, patient care plans and working with a hospital’s organizational system to juggle multiple patients during a shift.

Strong organizational skills are vital to being a great nurse, as they will help you avoid making medical mistakes. Creating systems and knowing how to prioritize will help you do what you need to do to evaluate a patient.

Some of our students say they honed this skill during the accelerated didactic portion of our program.

“I would always set a schedule. … I printed every single thing out, I made a plan, and I laid out what I needed to do,” says Lindsay Degnan, ABSN Class of 2015.

Do you have the soft skills nurses need?

If you have the desire and drive to become a nurse and have a bachelor’s degree in any field, you’re already well on your way to a new, rewarding profession. Our ABSN program can help equip you with the medical and scientific knowledge as well as the rest of the soft skills nurses need to be great at their jobs.

To learn more and to find out if you’d be a good fit for our program, reach out to one of our admissions advisors today.

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