So, You Want to Be a Nurse? Here’s What You Should Know
The prospect of working as a nurse is becoming more and more popular. It’s a good choice for those who want to contribute to healthcare but aren’t interested in the “main” option of becoming a physician and specializing further. Working as a nurse can allow you to help in various other ways, and it can be a fulfilling career choice for those who’re cut out for it.
There are some points that are important to stress here though – between the average workload a nurse has to face, and the state of the job market in some areas, it’s important to have a realistic outlook before committing to this career. If it’s a suitable choice for you though, you’re definitely going to appreciate the opportunities it can open up.
Be Prepared for Long, Difficult Hours
This is something you should absolutely not ignore. Some people assume that they can get used to working long hours under a lot of stress, but the truth is that it can quickly drain your willpower if you’re not prepared. There’s a reason nurses like to stick together and have various internal support communities – it’s something that everyone in the field needs.
That’s not to paint a grim picture though. Some people work very well in exactly this kind of environment, and they actually thrive on the pressure that it places on them. It’s definitely a good idea to consult someone with experience in the field before committing to it if you feel like this could get in your way though. It’s not something you can just adapt to, for the most part.
You May Need to Relocate Occasionally
The job market for nurses can vary from place to place, and it’s important to enter the field with the understanding that you might have to relocate in order to advance in your career. It might not happen straight away, but it could be a factor some years down the road. Again, this is something that’s not a problem at all for some people, but others don’t enjoy the prospect, understandably.
If you’re lucky, you might live in an area with a more active job market for nurses that could make this point moot. In any case, do your research in advance to understand what you can expect in terms of prospects in the next one to five years.
You Don’t Need to Obtain Your Degree In-Person
A great thing about studying for a nurse is that there are many options to do it entirely (or almost entirely) online, and they are becoming more accessible on a regular basis. An accelerated BSN program online from Baylor University can be a great way to enter the field, and this institution in particular is known for their attention to each individual student.
Of course, there are some undeniable benefits to attending classes in person, especially for a profession like that of a nurse, which is why some of the best institutions offer a mixed approach. Most of their classes are online, but students are still required to attend some sessions where attendance is mandatory.
Networking Matters – a Lot
One thing you’ll have to compensate for slightly when studying online is that you won’t have so many networking opportunities immediately available on a daily basis. Simply walking around the campus of a big university can often lead you to some interesting connections. But when your classes are entirely online, it’s not that easy to initiate contact.
Networking as a nurse is still very important though, and it’s not something you can afford to ignore. You should try to put some extra effort into this during your studies if you want to get a good start in your career. Talk to your professors, supervisors and assistants – they should have some good hints on how to build the right kinds of contacts. Check to see if your university has a dedicated service for this too – it’s not rare that you might be able to get some counseling on the subject.
There Is a Lot to Remember
One of the most notorious aspects to being a nurse is that the job comes with a lot to memorize. This is part of what sets a good nurse apart from a mediocre one. And no, you can’t really rely on modern tech to get you out of this one. Even though you’ll have your smartphone in your pocket at all times (or most of the time at least), it’s unthinkable to pull it out and start scrolling through your notes while a surgical team is giving you one acronym after another in an urgent situation.
You have to not only be able to commit a lot of information to memory, but to recall it on demand very quickly as well. Experienced nurses have entire systems for memorizing everything related to their jobs, and this is a habit you might want to get into as early as possible.
Communication Matters More Than It Does for Most Physicians
As a nurse, you’re often a patient’s immediate point of contact when a physician is not available to respond at the moment. What’s more, some patients will simply feel more confident in sharing their concerns and questions with you instead of the main treating physician. This makes it more important for a nurse to focus on their communication skills than most other people in healthcare. You must develop the ability to listen, read between the lines, reassure people in a calm manner, and resolve conflicts. And you’ll be doing that a lot.
It’s important to explore every single one of those points in detail. They’re all going to be relevant in your job in one way or another, and the sooner you start developing your skills in the right direction, the faster you’ll be able to progress in the field. And remember that nursing is a constantly developing field, so you’ll have to keep your skills polished on a regular basis. The learning never stops, especially as new technology keeps getting introduced into your workflow.