What to Consider Before Starting a Nursing Career

Nurses are well-respected, kind, caring, and essential members of the healthcare community. They offer comfort to patients during their darkest hours, whether by distracting them with a joke or light conversation or administering pain relief medication. Yes, nurses are incredible people who work hard every day to ensure their team and patients are supported. It can be easy to see why so many people are attracted to nursing as a career, not only because you are actively helping the community but also because it’s a job with stability and career progression. 

If you are interested in a career in nursing, it is important to carefully consider whether it truly is right for you. While there are a lot of benefits to working as a nurse, there are also many challenges that you will come across, and not everybody is ready to take these on. Before you start applying to nursing school, consider the following points to help you decide if it is the right career for you.

Do You Mind Working Long Hours?

Everybody has to put the time in at their job, but a lot of roles will only require you to work 8 hours a day, and you can be home in the evenings. Although there are opportunities for nurses to work closer to a 9-to-5 routine, you will need to accept that at some point in your career, you’ll be working at weekends, nights, and usually for long shifts at a time. It isn’t uncommon for nurses to work for 12 hours a day, particularly in hospitals. While this might not be how it is for you for your entire nursing career, you must be willing to work long hours.

Are You Willing to Learn?

As well as putting in the time, you’ll also have to go through intensive study if you want to make it as a nurse. You will need to go to college to get your nursing degree, and you will be put on a work placement during this time to get hands-on experience as well. After you have your bachelor’s degree in nursing, you will then have to take further exams to obtain your license and become a registered nurse. If you want to further your nursing career, you might also have to return to your studies once more to gain your master’s in nursing. You can find out more about these advanced degrees at Marymount University.

Can You Handle High-pressure Environments?

It is universally understood that nursing can be a challenging career, but have you truly thought about what this might be like in reality? All jobs can become harder or easier than we thought they would be when you start working in a particular role but make no mistake that nurses have to work in high-pressure environments, and some days can be very tough. You’re only human, so having a bad day at work or needing some time to recover is perfectly normal, but if you don’t think you can cope with this kind of pressure in your career, it might not be the best job for you.

Are You Squeamish? 

As a nurse, you see it all – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Although it is something that you may grow accustomed to as time goes by in your nursing role; if you’re someone who feels faint or nauseous at the sight of blood, or the idea of cleaning up people’s bodily fluids and other unsavory things makes you gag, you might want to steer clear of a job like this. Not only is this because you’re there to make the patients feel comfortable, and wincing at their wounds or other things that they can’t help will only make them feel embarrassed and upset. It is also because you might have to carry out things like injections, dressing wounds, etc., as part of your daily duties.

Are You Compassionate?

It’s not always easy to be upbeat every day, and you won’t be a nurse. However, you must put your feelings aside, stay professional, and do what you need to do to help your patients feel better. You need to be compassionate and have patience, even though the latter might not always be easy. Although you should never accept abusive behavior from patients, their relatives, or even other colleagues, you do need to be able to keep your cool under stressful circumstances. Often, people are behaving badly because they are frightened and frustrated at what is happening to them or someone they care about, so you need to try and understand things from their perspective and provide them with some comfort where you can.

Are You a Team Player?

There will be times when you need to use your initiative as a nurse, but you will always be working as part of a team. Whether it’s coming together to make sure your patients are getting the best quality care or supporting one another when you’ve had a bad day, your nursing team will become like a family unit in many ways. If you are someone who prefers to work solo, this might not be the right environment for you. 

Do You Understand Your Options?

A nursing career has many career progression opportunities, so before you apply for nursing school, you might want to look into what these are. You don’t have to decide the future of your career right now, but it is always worth having some ideas of what you might be interested in and understanding what steps you need to take to get there. You might want to work with a particular group of patients, such as children and teens, or people who suffer from mental health issues. Perhaps one day you’d like a change of pace and impart your wisdom and experience to a new generation of nurses? Or maybe you’d like to specialize in orthopedics? You can find out more about career progression for nurses here.

How Organized Are You?

To manage in a high-pressure working environment, one of the things you will need to be is organized. Day-to-day, you will be handling patient records, liaising with doctors and other healthcare professionals to discuss what they need you to do and what you learned from seeing patients. You will certainly be multi-tasking at numerous points during your average working day as a nurse, so good organization is key to survival. If you’re someone who has often failed in this area from a professional perspective in the past, you need to work on. Hone your skills and try to become a well-organized person before entering any wards or even starting nursing school, as you’ll need to balance a busy workload during your educational years as well. If you don’t think you’ll ever be an organized person, perhaps nursing isn’t the right fit for you. You must also be punctual, as time management is another essential skill nurses require – on some days, this could even mean life or death.

Are You Forgetful? 

Time management and organization skills are vital, but so is your memory. You will likely see many patients during your working day, especially if you are in a fast-paced environment such as a hospital. Although records will be there for you to refer to, there will be situations where your memory will need to come into play, as you might not have a chance to write important things down in the moment but will need to later. These might be things such as the amount of medication administered to a patient, symptoms a patient has complained about or developed, something that another healthcare team member has asked you to check on, and so on. Forgetting these details might not always be disastrous, but it is never worth the risk. 

Do You Want to be a Nurse for the Right Reasons?

Finally, the main thing you need to ask yourself is, do you want to become a nurse for the right reasons? Yes, nursing can offer you great career opportunities, stability, and a decent income. It might even win you the respect of many people within your community and make your family proud. However, although all of these things are good, if your heart is not in it, you’ll not be happy in this role. It is a very tough job, and to put up with the realities of being a nurse, you truly need to have a passion for caring for people and believe that it’s your calling. This is what will keep you motivated on even the hardest days and allow you to move forward in your nursing career with pride and conviction in what you’re doing.

Nursing can be a wonderful career, but it isn’t for everybody. Before you commit to studying nursing, ask yourself these questions and think carefully about your answers. It might be the best decision you ever made career-wise, but it’s always best to consider these things so you can make sure it’s right for you.w

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