6 Important Skills Required In a Nursing Assistant Career


Career Options

If you think you may be interested in a career in healthcare there is no better way to test the waters than by getting a job as a nursing assistant. Since becoming certified is a short process, you can be trained quickly through the right nursing school and you will be able to get to work to experience everything the industry has to offer. 

Whether or not you intend to use a career as a nursing assistant as a stepping stone to becoming a nurse or a doctor, or if you are happy being an assistant long term, there are many benefits to be had. As an assistant, you will have a chance to hone the important skills that are especially vital to success in the medical field. 

If you aren’t sure if a nursing assistant career is right for you, read through these 6 skills below to see if you already have what it takes to excel! You may be surprised at what a great nursing assistant you would be. 

1. Compassion

Having compassion for your patients is an essential skill for any nursing assistant. Compassion is more than just kindness, it is an unwavering and judgment-free concern for someone’s well being. When a patient is treated by a compassionate nursing assistant they will feel more supported and comfortable, making them more likely to heal. 

Great nursing assistants will have an uncanny ability to ease their patients’ unease and their calm demeanor can be contagious, allowing everyone to focus on getting well instead of worrying about what is wrong. If a nursing assistant responds from a place of insincerity, a patient will be able to detect that and it could have negative ramifications. 

If you are able to engage in how a patient is feeling, both physically and emotionally, your compassion will help you support them while they are undergoing treatment. Developing a great rapport with patients comes from a place of compassion, making it a vital skill for any nursing assistant to possess. 

As a nursing assistant, you will be on the front line, helping vulnerable patients and others during what may be the most difficult time of their lives. Having deep compassion will also help you enjoy your job, and give you a feeling of gratification that you have truly made a difference in someone’s life. 

2. Communication

Another important skill required of nursing assistants is being able to connect with patients in a straightforward way. Finding art in communication goes a long way toward successful patient education. You will need to help a patient understand the “whys” in difficult situations and it takes a skilled communicator to do that. 

Consider a time when you were a patient yourself. Did you want the best care possible? Of course, you did, and one of the ways you can offer the best care to your future patients is by connecting with them and making sure that they can understand you and what is happening. Communication is just one way that nursing assistants and patients are working together. 

In order to achieve the best possible outcomes, your patient interactions will need to be supported by individualized caring and positive communication. Speaking to a patient proactively may allow the patient to be more likely to reach out than they would to a nurse who seems harried and detached.

Medical terminology can be complicated and confusing. The ability to effectively convey medical information in clear language, and acknowledging any patient concerns that are heard, can greatly affect increased patient satisfaction. Passing information to patients can be difficult but understanding medical recommendations can help patients better follow their treatments and follow-up recommendations, perhaps even increasing overall outcomes.

It is also important that nursing assistants are good listeners. Keeping an ear open for any hints or clues as to why a patient may be stressed is a fantastic way to show understanding and keep the chance for communication open. Building relationships with your patients is the best way for a patient to feel like you truly care about them.

Great nursing assistants are also great communicators. If you can express yourself clearly, and deliver excellent service without giving it a second thought this might be the perfect career for you! Even smiling can make a big difference, elevating the overall mood, it might be thought of as a little thing, but smiling embodies “the caring profession.”

3. Critical Thinking 

Another must-have intellectual trait for nursing assistants is the ability to think critically.  Otherwise known as an ability to “think on their feet,” this critical thinking skill is crucial when working and collaborating with other health care professionals. 

Nursing assistants need to be able to independently comprehend situations, and quickly think things through, evaluating all the known information. Relying on your own education and applying your real-life work experience to every situation nurses assistant must suspend immediate judgment, prioritizing information to consider the nature of a problem.

A nursing assistant is able to make key decisions that might even save lives. Having sound critical thinking skills will help nursing assistants develop proficiency for reasoning under pressure and increases their ability for safe decision making. 

Nurses who fully understand the technical aspects of the job and are level-headed when thinking through challenges can get better and better at acting firmly and decisively when needed.

4. Flexibility

There will certainly be days as you are working as a nursing assistant that things don’t seem to go right. Being flexible and having the correct mindset to not be bothered by the little inconveniences of the job is so important for nursing assistants. Nursing assistants are in high demand so being flexible is important. 

Every day will be a little bit different, with a wide variety of job situations and tasks that will be assigned to you. While some of the tasks of the job of a nursing assistant may feel demanding, having the flexibility to face anything that comes your way with ease is an important skill to hone early in your career. 

5. Taking Initiative

Nursing assistants are held to a high professional standard. Because all nursing assistants need to function at a continually high level as part of their crucial role in a care team, there is a lot of needed initiative. Part of this means nurses must have the confidence to work independently with confidence. There isn’t always going to be someone checking in on you.

Nursing assistant professionals who have independent and initiative traits learn to manage whatever challenges come their way and are ready to make on-the-spot decisions when needed. They don’t need step-by-step instructions or micromanaging, because with patient care no one has time for that. 

There’s no substitute for specialized experience when it comes to nursing assistants developing a reputation for independence and initiative. You may even find it inspires you to take your career to the next level. If you are able to work independently and take initiative, a nursing assistant career may be exactly the right job for you. 

6. Patience 

As a nursing assistant, you may find that the job can be a physically and emotionally demanding vocation. Even novice nursing assistants are aware that they need to give the same tolerant quality of care to all of their patients. In order to accomplish this well, nursing assistants will need a healthy dose of patience.

It’s essential to remain patient and calm under pressure, particularly when dealing with more fast-paced and chaotic situations. Keeping your cool is vital, especially when caring for others. A nursing assistant with a focus on the human aspect of hands-on patient care understands it might take real effort to maintain composure and unfailing patience on occasion. 

While it may be difficult to achieve at times maintaining that self-control to ensure poised treatment of patients, shows professionalism and respect. Even when feeling overwhelmed and overworked, nursing assistants need not allow their emotions to get in the way. 

Patience is a personal quality that might come naturally to you. But if not an inherent ability of yours, patience is a quality that can be developed through education. Over time, you can learn to reflexively reframe challenging expertise and connect it to a larger story as a way to elevate your patience level. 

It takes work to be patient under stressful or difficult working conditions but nursing assistants who master this skill ultimately enjoy better mental health, and like their job more. Nurses for whom others can rely on to consistently remain in control and maintain patience in all circumstances become more highly regarded in their profession. 


Choosing a career as a nursing assistant is an important one. You will become the backbone of healthcare and will spend more time with nurses and patients than doctors will. Nursing assistants are challenged and sometimes under-appreciated as a profession but are a vital part of the industry. If you have these 6 important skills, you can be a successful professional.


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