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Bedside Manner: What to Look for When Hiring Nurses

Published May 9, 2013


The number of healthcare employees is expected to rise dramatically in the coming years, especially for nurses and aides. The number of workers employed in the private-sector of health care has gone up from three percent to eleven percent since the 1960’s. Even during the current US recession, health care has added 559,000 jobs since December 2007.

Becoming a nurse has multiple pathways, such as a two year Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) for specializations, a four year Bachelor of Science in Nursing for general nursing, or a Master’s Degree or Doctor of Nursing Practice for advanced, clinical or leadership roles.

Outside of formal training, though, a survey of 200 patients suggested they want their healthcare providers to be very high in certain personality factors; including confident, empathetic, humane, personal, forthright, respectful and thorough natures.

Breaking down these sought after attributes that comprise bedside manner can be done effectively inside of the Big Five Personality attributes:


Compassion and patience can be argued as two of the most important constructs of bedside manner. Being that patients, and their families, are often at their most vulnerable when they are in a nurse’s care. Individuals high in the factor of Agreeableness are often high in empathy, courtesy, generosity, warmth and amiability. When hiring, it is of the utmost importance to factor agreeableness when a positive bedside manner is extremely relevant.


Hardworking and task oriented employees are very important in most careers, but extremely necessary in healthcare. When people’s lives are on the line, safety and thoroughness are paramount. Those who are high in conscientiousness are proven to be hardworking, achievement oriented, interested in organization and detail, and more importantly, likely to follow safety regulations. Ensuring that your healthcare center is filled with workers high in industriousness will lead to a safe, productive and well-functioning operation.


Openness has positive correlations inside the higher and lower ends of its spectrum. Those high in openness are also often high in creativity. The plus side of hiring abstract, big thinkers are that they will thrive in a position that changes every day. Having the opportunity to experience new situations on a case by case basis, such as in the ER, will appeal to creative people. However, the opposite can also be argued. Much like finance and legal careers, there really is little wiggle room in the rules and regulations that can be creatively changed. Nurses on the lower end of openness, who prefer rote and routine occupations, may find themselves  in a more enjoyable career.


Because nurses spend the much of their time relating information for the patients from doctors, specialists, family members, hospital staff and many others, being a capable communicator is key. Communication skills are often defined by those with at least a moderate level of extroversion. Those higher in extroversion are often full of energy, sociable, interested in conversing and likely to seek out the company of others.

Stress Tolerance

Excellent stress management skills, including a positive view of life, and an ability to balance career and personal life, will help nurses avoid the many stresses of this sector. Those high in stress tolerance will be able to handle situations of stress and pressure with ease. Those with low stress tolerance will often withdrawal or become volatile when faced with uncertainty, and may take quite a while to recover. In the health care industry, having a clear head and being able to react quickly and in the moment is vital. Additionally, those high in stress tolerance often contribute to workplace moral and will keep positive spirits up during the harder times.

Regardless of the years needed to learn the technical skills to be a nurse, the necessary attributes of bedside manner are often ingrained in the individual; making personality assessing critical to a well-rounded hiring process for the healthcare industry.