If you’re considering a career as a nurse, it’s definitely a good career move if you’re the right type of person for it. Nurses are in high demand, the pay is decent, there are endless progression opportunities or chances to specialize in various areas of healthcare, and you get to spend your life helping people and making a massive difference to the lives of all the patients you treat.
But being successful in nursing takes a special kind of person. Nurses are required to work long, unsocial hours, and they’re often faced with challenging situations. At times, somebody’s life is literally going to be in your hands, and you’ll need to be able to think quickly on your feet and make the right calls at the right times to do the best for your patients.
Before you apply to nursing school, here are some questions to ask yourself first.
Why Do I Want to Be a Nurse?
Why exactly do you want to be a nurse? Is it just an easy career option because it’s a stable profession that pays well, or is it because you genuinely care about people and want to help others? Nursing is a difficult, demanding professional and the physical requirements alone can become extremely overwhelming, let alone the emotional and mental side of things. Nurses who don’t go into the career with a passion for caring and helping people don’t tend to last very long. If you’re not sure about why you want to be a nurse or if it’s the best choice for you, consider:
- Volunteering in a hospital or other care setting to get a feeling for the type of work expected and get a better idea of what nurses do
- Spend some time shadowing a nurse at their job, or speaking to a nurse about their work in detail.
Do I Really Understand What Will Be Expected of Me?
Before you commit to an intense and competitive study program to become a nurse, make sure that you’re fully aware of what will be expected of you once you’ve qualified and started working in nursing. It’s again a good idea to spend some time volunteering in a healthcare setting, particularly somewhere where you are able to interact with and observe nurses in action day-to-day. This will help you learn more about exactly what you’ll be doing in your future career and solidify your choice – or sway you towards alternative options.
Do I Enjoy Working with People?
If you don’t enjoy working with people, nursing might not be the right career choice for you. Unless you specialize in a certain area that allows you to work in a lab away from the patients, you’re going to be dealing with people all day, every day. And bear in mind that to get to a position where you can work in a lab, you’ll usually have to obtain some nursing experience and an advanced program like this BSN to MSN online program; it’s not usually something that you can just walk into with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing.
You’ll be working with patients who are sick, in pain, frightened, and perhaps even dying. This can be difficult at times, and nurses need to have genuine empathy and treat every patient as a valuable individual. Every day, you will need to practice:
- Good listening skills
If you’re not really a ‘people person’, nursing might not be the best choice of job for you.
Am I Committed to Learning?
Nursing school is a very competitive place, and the prerequisites for getting accepted onto a nursing degree can be difficult, especially if you’re hoping to study at an advanced level. You’ll be required to have a strong background in subjects such as:
- Applied Pathophysiology
To guarantee acceptance into the program that you want to take, you’ll need to be committed to learning and improving your knowledge, skills and grades. Nursing schools are looking for students that stand out from the crowd with exceptionally good grades, volunteer experience, leadership experience and a strong understanding of their chosen career path.
Do I Work Well in a Team?
As a nurse, you’re going to be working as part of a team to help support patients and each other. And you won’t just be working with other nurses; you’ll be required to work as part of the wider healthcare team, providing support to doctors, surgeons, consultants and other healthcare professionals as and when needed.
To succeed as a nurse, you need to be a good team player. You need to know when to take a leading role, when to step back and let somebody else lead, and get on with doing your fair share of the work and then some. You need to be accepting of constructive criticism and ready to learn from the people that you work with.
Am I a Resilient Person?
Getting into nursing alone requires a lot of resilience; the career itself will require even more. Prerequisite nursing programs are some of the most difficult that you’ll take in college, with rigorous coursework and clinical placements to complete one after the other. If you are resilient, you will be able to:
- Recover quickly from any setbacks you encounter
- Problem solve and come up with plans for moving forward
- Deal with challenges and embrace them as a way of learning
- Be prepared for disappointments and outcomes that you can’t change
- Look after your own physical and mental health
Am I Ready for Lifelong Learning?
For nurses, learning doesn’t end when you graduate or get your license to work as an RN. Nurses are required to constantly learn more and stay up to date, especially with the speed of medical advancements today; there’s always going to be a new device, software program, technique or technology to master as a nurse. Healthcare is a rapidly changing industry, and nurses need to be committed to being at the forefront of staying up to date with new research, learning new ideas and skills, and implementing them in practice.
What about you – are you a good fit for a career in nursing?