Nursing is an amazing career that is noble and well-respected. Working to help others is a job that you can be proud of, and with many career paths to choose from within the field of nursing, the opportunities are bountiful. However, while nursing is a great career choice, it’s also important to realize that not everything is as it seems. While it’s universally acknowledged that nursing is a challenging job, it can still be a bit of a shock to the system for new nurses when they do finally step onto a hospital ward or other healthcare environment to begin their careers. If you have been thinking about becoming a nurse, here are six things you need to know before you start your training.
1. Career Options
As mentioned above, there are a lot of career opportunities within nursing to choose from once you’re a qualified, licensed RN. You can choose to pursue a career in mental health, specializing in pediatrics, or sexual health, and so on. Before you start a nursing degree, consider what career paths you might be interested in once you do become an RN so you can start to consider what steps you will need to take to achieve your goals. You may change your mind once you become an RN, which is fine, but it’s important to think about your options.
If you want to become a nurse, you will have to get a nursing degree, so committing to education needs to be something you’re willing to do. You should be aware that if you did want to move forward in your nursing career that some positions will require additional certifications, which means you may have to return to school to complete a master’s degree or even a DNP nursing qualification. You can fit these further studies around your work, as there are many flexible approaches to learning, including online courses. Either way, you need to know that as a nurse, you will have to be constantly learning, even if it’s not at a degree level, to keep up with the latest in healthcare.
3. Working Under Pressure
There will be numerous times when you will feel a lot of pressure at work as a nurse, and this can be very overwhelming. While it’s normal to feel this way, the bottom line is that you must be able to overcome that and be able to carry on with your work even on the toughest of days. You might get better at this overtime during your career as a nurse, but before you start this journey, ask yourself if you’re the kind of person who can cope under high-pressure situations and stay professional.
4. Long Hours
Your working hours will depend on the kind of environment you’re working in. For example, if you’re working in a hospital, you’re more likely to be working in a shift pattern. You might notice that you’re only scheduled to work 3-4 days a week, which seems great at first. If you are only working a few days of the week, you’ll likely be working 12-hour shifts, which are a lot harder than you think. In addition to this, you might find that you’re regularly called in on your days off due to short staff issues. This doesn’t happen everywhere, but it’s something you need to be prepared for if you’re going to commit to a career as a nurse. You will be working long hours, especially in a hospital. However, working in a smaller clinic or doctor’s office, you might be working something closer to a 9-5 working pattern, depending on the office hours.
5. Variety of Tasks
As a nurse,you’re responsible for more than assisting doctors and administering medications to patients. Be prepared to serve patients meals, talk to them, bathe them, deal with their families, act as a liaison between doctors, patients, and their relatives. You will have to record symptoms, perform diagnostic tests, operate medical equipment, and educate patients about how to care for themselves once they’re discharged. The list goes on, but you’ll certainly have your hands full.
6. Dealing with Death
Finally, this is probably the hardest part of the job, particularly as you will be bonding with patients as part of your role. Death is an inevitable part of life, but that doesn’t make it any less heartbreaking. Although it might not happen every day, you will have to see people die as a nurse, and even if you know it’s coming, it’ll always be sad. Each death will affect you differently but think carefully about whether or not this is something you could cope with as part of your job before becoming a nurse.
Nursing is a great career choice, but it isn’t for the faint of heart. If you think you can handle all of the above, then perhaps you’ve got what it takes to make it as a nurse.