Do you have aspirations of becoming a nurse? Many people pursue a career in nursing from a young age or pick it up as a second career later in life. It is easy to see why. There are few careers that are as noble and rewarding as nursing. You get to play a vital role in the healthcare system and improve and save lives every single day.
Nursing is also a profession that is demanding. It requires a high degree of knowledge and skills, and can take its toll. With this in mind, this post will offer advice for aspiring nurses that are pursuing a career in this field.
Table of Contents
Gain Any Kind Of Experience
Before you start looking into nursing school, it is a good idea to gain any kind of experience in a hospital setting. Volunteering or even taking a job on reception will give you an idea of whether or not this is a work environment that you feel comfortable in.
It will allow you to start developing a few key skills. Plus it will be helpful to boost your resume and to start building a professional network in the medical community. This can be hugely helpful down the line.
Develop Your Communication Skills
In nursing, there are many technical skills that you need and a high degree of knowledge. This will only take you so far. You must also be an excellent communicator.
This will include doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals, as well as patients and their families. This means that you need to be a strong communicator and able to build positive relationships quickly with people. One of the most overlooked aspects of this is listening.
You must be an excellent listener so that you can take direction and glean as much information as possible from the patient. A good nurse is also one that is able to read people’s body language. A good nurse knows the best way to connect with different types of people.
Prioritize Bedside Manner
Leading on from this, bedside manner is hugely important in any healthcare role. Although you will see dozens of patients each and every day, it is important to understand that being in hospital will be a big deal for each patient. They are likely to be scared, stressed, and anxious. This is why you need to give everyone the attention that they deserve. Be empathetic and professional yet supportive at all times.
Develop Key Soft Skills
There are many other soft skills that you will need to succeed as a nurse. These include time management, organizational skills, problem-solving, and the ability to prioritize your workload. If you have any soft skills that you do not feel are particular strengths, you will find that it is worth improving in these areas. This will improve your performance and help you to stand out from the crowd.
Find An Area Of Nursing That Interests You
Nursing is a broad field, and there are many different types of nursing that you can specialize in. You may already have an idea of the kind of nurse that you want to be. If not, then you can consider this as you gain experience and study. A few popular areas of nursing include:
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- ER nurse
- Geriatric nursing
- Cardiac nurse
- Nurse educator
Take An Accelerated Nursing Program
Many people want to pursue a career in nursing but are put off by the amount of time it takes to become qualified. A fast track nursing school online is a great solution for these people and anyone looking to make a career switch. You can become a qualified nurse in just 2 years.
This is through an intensive full-time course with an online program and a short in-person requirement on campus. An accelerated nursing program will teach you all that you need to know. Accelerating nursing programs help you develop the key skills and knowledge required to take on nursing roles with confidence.
Never Be Afraid To Ask Questions
During your studies and in the field, you should never be afraid of asking questions. The saying “the only bad question is the one not asked” comes into play in a field like nursing. It is such an important role where your decisions make the difference between life and death.
Additionally, no one expects a junior nurse to know it all straight away, and it is an ongoing learning experience.
Find A Mentor In Nursing
Try to find a mentor as early as possible through work, a mentorship program, or through your professional network. Life can be stressful and daunting as a junior nurse. Having someone with experience in your corner can make a big difference and help you to learn the ropes.
A mentor can be helpful in terms of introducing you to important people. They could open up doors for career progression that you might have otherwise struggled to reach.
Engage With Other Nurses
There is a degree of competitiveness within nursing, but you will also find that it is an incredibly tight-knit and strong community. Nurses know their importance in the healthcare system but how they are sometimes overlooked, which means that they always look out for one another and have each other’s back.
This is something that you will want to be a part of, so you should engage with your fellow nurses and do what you can to support them.
Be A Team Player With Leadership Qualities
Following this, you need to be a team player when it comes to nursing and healthcare as a whole. The most important thing is the patient’s outcome and the level of care that they receive. Be able to work as part of a team and be happy playing a small or large part of this.
It is important to be a team player. It is also helpful if you can demonstrate leadership qualities with your work. You can do this by showing initiative. Take on lead roles in patient care when the opportunity arises. Go the extra mile for patients and their loved ones.
Develop A Thick Skin & Strong Stomach
Nursing is not a role for the thin-skinned or those with a weak stomach. Due to the nature of the work, you will be working in an intense, high-pressure atmosphere where tempers can flare. This means that you are likely to be shouted at, sworn at, and called all kinds of things throughout your career.
You need to be able to take these in your stride and understand that it is not personal. Additionally, nurses will deal with all kinds of things that can disgust and shock. Be able to continue to work to a high level despite this. Of course, this does involve death, and this is something that you will learn to manage over time but something that will never be easy.
Learn From Your Mistakes
It is scary to think about, but you will make mistakes as a nurse. This is work that is highly detailed and meticulous but in a high-pressure environment, with a heavy workload. Nursing also has long hours. Obviously, you need to avoid making mistakes at all costs but understand that they can happen, and the consequences of these can be high.
The key is to not let a mistake throw your confidence. Instead, you need to frame it as a chance to learn. Every nurse makes mistakes over the course of their career. The best nurses are the ones that learn what they can from the mistake and then get back on the horse.
Confidence is incredibly important in this role, which means that you need to be able to move on from mistakes that you make and learn along the way.
You learn by doing in a field like nursing, which means that you need to be brave and willing to take a leap of faith from time to time. The phrase “see one, do one, teach one” is often used in medical professions, and it is a highly effective way to learn.
It can be scary. Your mind may be telling you that you are not ready. You need to be brave and step up when the time comes. Once you have done a task once, you will very quickly develop the skills and confidence needed to do it again and start to excel in your role.
Keep Learning & Stay Current
Even once you are a qualified nurse, it is important that you continue to learn throughout your career. There is always more that you can learn as a nurse. If you have plans to advance your career, you will need to keep learning and improving.
Additionally, nursing is a field that is going through continuous change. This is from technological developments, healthcare trends, advances in medical and scientific knowledge, and various other trends.
This means that nursing is a role that requires continuous learning so that you can stay current and provide the best level of care for your patients. There are many ways that you can stay current with all the latest news and developments in nursing, including:
- Reading publications
- Attending seminars and training events
- Attending industry events
- Joining online communities
- Listening to podcasts
- Completing your own research
Develop A Large Professional Network
As with any career field, it is always helpful to build a large professional network over the course of your career. This will come in handy when the time comes to look for new opportunities and to climb the ladder, plus it will help you to develop a positive reputation in your field.
Crucially, make sure that your professional relationships are maintained over the years – social media can be a highly effective way to do this. Additionally, you need to be willing to do favors for others in your network when you can.
Keep Work & Home Separate
Nursing is more a lifestyle than a job. It is important that you are able to keep work and home separate. This is difficult when the job is so demanding. Y ou are dealing with sickness, injury, and death each day, but being able to keep the two separate allows you to recharge your batteries and make the most out of your time off.
It is a skill that is developed over time, but nurses often find things like spending time with non-medical friends, getting showered and dressed straight after work, and doing something fun after work is helpful.
Make The Most Out Of Your Time Off
Leading on from this, you also need to make the most out of your time off. Shift work has both benefits and drawbacks, but one of the advantages is that you can enjoy longer periods of time off and be free when others are working, which is quieter. Y
ou should plan your time off in advance and make sure that you are giving enough time and energy to other important parts of your life, including family and friends, rest and sleep, hobbies, exercise, and eating a healthy diet, just as a few examples.
In Conclusion: A Career In Nursing
The information in this post should help anyone that has aspirations of becoming a nurse or those in the early stages of their career. There is no role in the world quite like nursing. It is a job that can provide immense job satisfaction, but it is also a job that is demanding and often upsetting and confronting.
Nursing is not for everyone. The advice in this post should help you to find feet and hopefully find early success in your career as a nurse.
Next read: The Complete Guide to Nursing Programs
Erin is the mother of identical twin girls and their slightly older brother. She is a domestic engineer, and previously had a career leading customer service teams for a major HVAC company. Cleaning without harsh chemicals, and cooking easy and usually healthy meals are part of Erin's daily life. She volunteers with youth leaders, and genuinely wants to help others win. Erin has a degree in Communications, with a focus on Broadcast Journalism.