Nursing can be a wonderful career for the right person, offering stability, satisfaction in knowing that you’re helping others, as well as plenty of opportunities when it comes to career progression. It is easy to see why so many people are drawn to this as a career, but it’s also important to carefully consider whether this role will be right for you before you start taking the steps to become a qualified registered nurse. If this is a path that you have been thinking about following, below are a few of the key things you need to know before you start your career journey.
It Can Be Tough
While helping patients navigate their health issues and assisting them on their road to recovery is incredibly rewarding, it’s no secret that being a nurse can also be very tough. Health issues can be very stressful and scary, which will naturally cause people to get emotional and frustrated at times. While nurses should never put up with any kind of abuse in their line of work, the reality is that you will have to deal with difficult situations throughout your career. This might be trying to calm down a patient that is being hostile due to their fear and frustrations or even dealing with their relatives who are feeling the same way. There will also be occasions where a patient you have been caring for sadly passes away due to their illness, or as a result of a mistake made by a member of the healthcare team. Hopefully, the later scenarios will be rare, but it’s important to know that this could be a reality for you in this role so that you are better prepared for these challenges.
Committing To Your Education
If you want to become a nurse, you will have to get a degree in nursing and obtain your nursing license by sitting a specific exam. If you want to follow this as a career path, you need to be prepared to commit to your education, even after you have received your initial degree. Taking further training courses while you’re on the job will be necessary, and if you want to move up the career ladder, you might also have to get a higher-level degree such as a master’s or a DNP for certain roles. If you’re someone who has never enjoyed studying, perhaps this isn’t the right career path for you as there is a lot of learning involved in these types of jobs.
It’s Not Your Typical 9-to-5 Job
As a nurse, it is possible to secure a job that has more sociable hours, such as working in a general practitioner’s office or even working in a school. However, you will likely work shift work as a nurse, especially in the early stages of your career and if you’re working in a fast-paced environment such as a hospital. These shifts can be very long, on average lasting 12 hours at a time. It can be grueling, so if you’re an individual who would prefer a more structured working pattern and isn’t keen on shifts, then you might want to think again about committing to nursing as a career. Again, some roles are more comfortable when it comes to the hours you work, but you need to be prepared to work this way if you want to have a successful nursing career.
There Are a Lot of Options in Terms of Career Path
One of the benefits of working in nursing is that there are a lot of options when it comes to carving out your career path. For example, you could choose to move into a specialist area such as working in pediatrics, palliative care, mental health, sexual health, and family planning, or even move on to teach nursing if you think that could be your calling. While you don’t need to figure out exactly where you want to end up right at the beginning of your nursing career, it is always worth checking out the different paths you can take sooner rather than later so you can start considering those options and what your next steps might need to be.
Patience is Key
Nursing can be a very high-pressure job at times, and that can make it hard to be understanding and patient at times. However, when you are dealing with people who are frightened and anxious about their health, you do need to practice good patience and keep a level head to the best of your ability. This is a skill that can be developed over time, but you do need to think about whether you naturally have a lot of patience, to begin with, because this will play a big part in your bedside manner, which is key to this role.
You Need to Look After Yourself
As nursing can be a tough job at times, you need to look after yourself if you are going to get through it. Practicing good self-care should be something everyone does anyway, but it’s even more essential when you are dealing with a lot of pressure at work. Maintaining a balanced diet, making time for yourself to laugh, have fun, and relax outside of work are vital. You may even want to use mindfulness techniques to help you manage stress more effectively or consider taking up counseling if you have had a particularly difficult and traumatic experience on the job.
You Must Be Organized
Working as a nurse means you will be dealing with a lot of information day in and day out. Keeping track of patient records, liaising with other members of the healthcare team, keeping appointments with your patients –are just a few examples of what you will be doing as part of your standard routine. If you’re going to succeed as a nurse, then you will need impeccable organization skills as well as a good memory, as you won’t always have a pen and paper at hand to jot down important information.
Nursing can truly be an incredible career for the right person, but you do need to be prepared to commit to this career and be a resilient individual if you’re going to succeed at it. Consider the points above to help you make your decision about pursuing a career in nursing, as if you are willing to do all of the above and have those all-important skills, this could be the best decision you make in terms of your career.