Everything You Need to Know Before Embarking on a Nursing Career
If you’d like to work in a career where you can make a difference and help others, nursing could be a potential career path that you have been considering. Working as a nurse is a highly rewarding choice of career, but it’s important to understand that it’s not always easy. Nurses work on their feet for long shifts every day and have to deal with a lot of stress and pressure. Sometimes, you might not get the respect that you deserve as a nurse from a patient or a patient’s family member who is feeling scared and worried. Nursing isn’t just about administering medications and providing medical care to patients - you’ll also be tasked with supporting patients and their families emotionally, providing education to your patients and their relatives, and being there for them.
Most nurses have no doubts about the work that they are going to do and just how important it is. For many nurses, all the pressure, stress and strain of the job is something that they have decided is more than worth it because they know that they’re making such a big difference to the lives of others. If you’re thinking about getting into nursing, it’s not a career path to be taken lightly. Here are some key factors of nursing that you will need to consider.
There’s More to the Job Than Caring
Most people get into nursing because they want to care and be there for people. Compassion and empathy are key skills that nurses need, considering that you will be spending your days interacting with people who may often be going through some of the worst times of their lives and are feeling confused, scared, vulnerable in pain. But as important as being caring is, there’s more to a career as a nurse that you will need to master. Nurses need to improve their technical knowledge and learn how to use a range of medical tools and equipment, and you’ll be required to have a strong working computer and IT knowledge since using various computers, machines and software programs is a key part of the job.
You Will Need to Be Committed to Learning
As a nurse, your learning journey never ends. You can qualify quickly as a nurse with an accelerated BSN from an institution like Marymount University if you have a degree in a non-nursing subject, but the learning does not end there. If you want to further your career, you will need to determine how you are going to fit getting an advanced degree like an MSN or DNP around your work as a full-time registered nurse; thankfully, today you can access a wide range of nurse-friendly, online degree programs that are designed to be flexible and supportive of your workload. But even if you are happy to stick to being a registered nurse and don’t want to get an advanced degree, as a nurse you’ll need to be committed to learning new things on a regular basis. Nurses have to ensure that their knowledge is current, which means a lot of keeping up with new developments in the rapidly-changing healthcare industry.
You Won’t Always Be Appreciated
Most people you know probably appreciate nurses and the work that they do. Everybody knows just how important nurses are in healthcare, and most people will have a memory of a positive interaction that they have had with a nurse when they were suffering and in pain. Perhaps it’s one of your own interactions with a caring and supportive nurse that has inspired you to get into this industry yourself. However, as an aspiring nurse, it’s important to bear in mind that not all of your patients are going to be appreciative and grateful. Some patients might be resistant to treatment and others might be scared and lash out. Nurses need to have the mental strength to ensure that they don’t take this personally or allow it to affect the quality of care that they provide to their patients, no matter how upset or irate their patient might be.
It Can Be Physically Demanding
Nursing is by no means a regular nine-to-five job. As a nurse, you’ll be working lengthy shifts, and spending a lot of time on your feet. To be a successful nurse, you’ll need to be physically strong and able to keep up with the demands of the job. Depending on the type of nursing that you do, you might be required to physically help your patients move around, helping them get in and out of bed, go to the bathroom, support their limbs and more. The last thing that you want is to injure yourself helping your patients, so it’s important that a commitment to nursing also means a commitment to keeping yourself strong and healthy with regular workouts and a good diet.
It Can Get Pretty Gross
Nurses will all agree that the human body is an amazing thing. But sometimes, the human body can be rather disgusting. As a nurse, you need to have a strong stomach for bodily fluids as you’re going to be dealing with a lot of them on a daily basis. It’s a common misconception that nurses need to be people who are unaffected by things like vomit and feces - you’re probably going to feel very queasy at first, but over time, you will get used to it like anything that you encounter on a regular basis. Most nurses will have had their stomach turned at least a couple of times during their job. However, that being said, if the sight of a little bit of blood makes you feel faint, you might want to consider a different caring career.
Nurses Need to Be Focused at All Times
When you’re a nurse, having a bad day at work is out of the question. Unlike other careers where the occasional small mistake is likely to simply lead to an email letting you know that you need to rectify something, even the smallest errors in nursing can lead to disastrous situations for patients, and can sometimes have very tragic results. As a nurse, your patients are relying on you to stay focused, and there is no room for small errors caused by being distracted or tired. To be a successful nurse, you need to be ready to stay focused on everything that you’re doing all the time and invest time in looking after yourself between shifts to make sure that you are going into work with a clear mind.
You’ll Get Asked a Lot of Questions
Once your friends and family know that you’re a nurse, there’s probably no going back. If you’ve decided to become a nurse, be prepared to get asked a lot of medical questions over dinner and drinks. You’re going to know all about everybody’s injuries and illness and you’ll be the go-to relative or friend when somebody needs advice about their health.
You Don’t Switch Off from Nursing Mode
As a nurse, you take an oath to serve and protect, and you might be called upon to offer help and assistance in a wide range of situations. If you’re in a public place and somebody has an accident or a heart attack, you’ve got a duty to help them along with any other healthcare professionals who might be on the scene at the time.
Your Decisions Hold a Lot of Weight
Being a nurse brings a huge amount of responsibility along with it. In this career, the choices and decisions that you make can be the difference between life and death for your patients. Along with being super-focused and maintaining a keen eye for detail in your career, as a nurse, you will need to be constantly aware of the significant responsibility that’s on your shoulders. Nurses need to be prepared for the weight that their decisions hold and understand how important it is to be able to stay calm under pressure and make the right decisions on behalf of their patients quickly.
There’s a Lot of Paperwork Involved
Nurses need to be organized and able to keep track of everything that they’ve done and everything they’re going to do. Documenting everything is a key part of your career as a nurse as this is important for sharing with your colleagues and keeping up with the care that your patients have received so far; when you are dealing with such a heavy workload, you can’t be expected to remember everything without documentation. Nurses need to be good written communicators and ready for the fact that hours of their working day are going to involve paperwork, updating patient records, and passing written instructions and records onto other members of staff.
You’ll Need to Develop Your Skills
There’s a certain skillset that’s important to possess if you want to get ahead in nursing. Along with being committed to learning more about new developments in healthcare and providing the best standard of care to your patients, as a nurse, you’ll need to be dedicated to fine-tuning your skills. Some of the most crucial skills for nurses include:
In nursing, working on your communication skills is key. Nurses need to be excellent communicators in order to succeed and make sure that information is passed on clearly to colleagues, patients, and family members. In nursing, it’s not only important that you are able to communicate information clearly, but active listening is another essential communication skill that you will need to develop. This will ensure that you can easily understand what your patients are telling, you especially when their ability to communicate clearly might be affected due to pain or fear.
Nurses need to be highly ethical people with a lot of integrity. As a nurse, you will need to be committed to always doing the right thing, even when nobody is watching. There’s no room for taking shortcuts or bending the rules, even the smallest bit when it comes to nursing. You need to be somebody who respects the rules, understands the reasons why they are there and holds themselves accountable for everything that they do, working to the highest ethical standards at all times.
Nursing might be a medical job but it will often require you to think critically and creatively on your feet. As a nurse, you might often find yourself in situations where you are dealing with a patient who is experiencing an emergency, and the split-second decisions that you might make regarding the situation will be of utmost importance.
Empathy and Compassion
Nurses will often find themselves dealing with patients who are going through some of the toughest and scariest times of their lives. Being able to put yourself in the patient’s shoes and understand how they might be feeling will enable you to support patients, earn their trust, and provide the best standards of care to them at all times. Good nurses are not only able to make their patients more comfortable physically, but they also help to put their minds at ease.
Nursing Isn’t an Easy Job
There’s no denying it - nursing is definitely not an easy choice of career. Nurses who succeed need to be people who are incredibly passionate about and committed to their choice of career. Being there and caring for others in their time of need is something that comes as a natural calling to good nurses; you’ll need to be naturally drawn to caring for others in order to succeed as a nurse. Nursing is a choice of career that can put a lot of demand on you both physically and emotionally. You might find yourself in some heartbreaking situations, but you’ll still have to go on with your day and greet your patients with a smile. Nurses need to be very mentally strong and able to keep up with the emotional demands along with the physical demands of their job.
Nursing is an excellent choice of career for those who enjoy being there for others, with high career demand, excellent career progression prospects, good salaries and high reward - but it’s important for aspiring nurses to know exactly what the job demands.