Source: Unsplash | Luis Melendez
Becoming a nurse is a stable career as we will always require nurses and healthcare professionals, as well as being incredibly rewarding. If you want to be in a career where you can advance, specialise in different areas and be in demand around the US and the rest of the world, choosing to study at a nursing school can provide you with all of this and more. Nursing can also be a tough career but the rewards you can reap through helping people make it all worth it. If you are considering a nursing role, here is everything you should know before beginning your journey.
The Qualities a Good Nurse Should Possess
Not everybody has what it takes to become a nurse, and this is due to the long hours and the qualities you need to possess to do well in the career. If you have the will and determination required and you are a caring person who enjoys helping others, you can improve on the rest of the skills along the way. You would be surprised by how much patience you do possess when in a clinical setting helping others compared to at home. Compassion is one of the number one qualities that you should have to do well as you will need to be able to empathize with patients and their families. Going into hospital is a scary time for anyone and so patients and families want a nurse who can make them feel safe and more at ease during this difficult time.
As patient confidentiality is an essential, a good nurse will also have integrity. This also means being able to admit when you have done something wrong and be honest if you see a coworker doing something that you do not agree with. Time management is another key aspect of nursing as shifts can be very busy and you need to have the ability to prioritize, as well as being able to delegate care and ask for help. This also links into working as part of a team. As a nurse, you need to be able to work well with others as you will come into contact with a myriad of different healthcare professionals during your career in addition to your patients.
Nurses Work Long Rotational Shifts
A huge factor to consider when working in nursing is the long hours and rotational shifts. As a nurse, you can expect to work both day and night shifts, so you need to be prepared to give away both time in the day and the evening. For some, this is much better than regular working hours as many people do not like the monotony of a Monday-Friday, 9-5 job. Working shifts may mean you are at work for a longer period of time, but it also means you could have 3 days on and 4 days off. You will also be expected to work weekends, though nursing staff will take turns in doing this, so you will not have to work every weekend. Night shifts can be particularly difficult for many and you need to be able to deal with these and look after yourself during nights.
If shifts are not for you there are still other options in nursing. You can choose to be a nurse in an office or school which are typically open Monday-Friday. For those who are thinking of the future and want a family, there is always the option of gaining experience as a nurse in a hospital working shifts and then advancing your career. This online nursing school allows you to study whilst you work and opens many doors, such as becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP). FNPs can aid in treating, diagnosing and managing those with long-term conditions, which can be a much more relaxed role. The typical hours that an FNP usually does will fit easier around someone who has other family commitments.
The Common Roles of a Nurse
A nurse can have many roles and, as you advance through nursing school, you will build up on these skills. Whilst it can be daunting to start your first day in a clinical setting, watching how others work and asking questions is a great way to learn. Some people prefer to get hands on and, if this is the case for you, ask if you can have a go whilst being assisted by a member of staff when you feel confident to do so. Nurses will admit patients onto a ward, discovering any past medical history and symptoms. The more information you can gain here, the easier it will be to get an understanding of the patient. This also means it will be easier to hand over your patient to the doctors and other nursing staff.
Nurses also administer medications or other treatments such as injections or intravenous fluids. You will also gain experience in taking vital observations such as blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate. These observations are one of the easiest ways to tell when a patient is clinically deteriorating and, as you advance in your knowledge, it will become second nature to spot minor signs of clinical deterioration. Nurses may assist in carrying out diagnostic tests and analyzing results, as well as create and work towards building plans for patient care and consult with many healthcare professionals. Nurses also educate patients and families on their illnesses and how to manage them at home if they have a long-term condition such as asthma. You will be guided through all of this until you feel ready to do it alone, so never be afraid to speak up during your training if you need a little more help.
A Nursing Career Will Come with Hard Days
As you may already know, a nursing career can be an extremely tough career to be in at times. If you are going to become a nurse, you need to understand that you will see things that are going to be upsetting, but you will also see things that will make you smile. Whilst it can be difficult seeing a patient very ill, helping to be that nurse that gets them through their illness is worth more than any amount of money. If you are looking for a rewarding career, then you have definitely found one in nursing.
For the tough days, ensure that you speak to your colleagues. There should also be support systems in place for staff on the ward or in the hospital if you need to speak to someone. It can be difficult to just switch off when you finish work and, so, it is important to find time for you and find something that you can do out of work that helps you destress. Whilst everyone tells you to not take your job home, it can be almost impossible to leave your role as a nurse at the door. After all, we are only human. The important thing is that you know that you can deal with your emotions and carry on in your career without it severely affecting your life outside of work.
Specialties and Advancing Your Career
In nursing there are many specialties in which you can get into, and you can advance your career in many different ways. One of the main things that attracts people to nursing is the variety, there really is something for everyone in the nursing field. The main specialties within nursing are adult, pediatric, mental health and learning disabilities. You can work in many different environments, too, including private sectors or public sectors. Some private sectors require experience before applying, but these can be higher paid roles.
As you work, you can begin to find what specialties interest you the most and where your skills are most required. Some people enjoy working with babies, whilst others prefer working with those who have renal problems. With so many wards to choose from, you can decide as you work. It may be best to begin in general medicine until you find a specialty as it can be more difficult to move to another ward once you specialize. Nurses also have many options when advancing their careers. As stated earlier, there are many nursing schools that allow you to study online whilst you continue to work. Becoming an FNP is one option, but there are many others. For those who enjoy educating other nurses, a role as a nurse educator may be ideal. You can also advance up the career ladder to become a Chief Nursing Officer. These nurses ensure that the best care is being given to all patients within a healthcare facility and looks at ways of improving patient care.
A career as a nurse has many advantages and, as the population continues to grow and we continue to live longer, the need for nurses will forever increase. If you believe you have what it takes to become a nurse, there is no better time to begin your career than now. Whether you wish to study online or in a nursing school, there are many options available to you.