You’re considering a career in nursing. You dream of having a job that allows you to support yourself while also giving back to the community.
But are you ready to spend twelve-hour workdays in scrubs and prescription safety glasses? Do you know what type of nurse you’d like to be or if there is a specialty that excites you? Can you have challenging conversations with doctors, patients, and their loved ones?
Here is everything to consider before becoming a nurse.
Get in Touch With Your Why
What made you consider a career in nursing? Yes, nurses make decent salaries, but this is not for the faint of heart. Nursing challenges you. Choose healthcare because you love taking care of people; because you still remember the nurse you had as a child and hope to bring comfort to families like yours; because you love learning about how the human body can be resilient. Don’t become a nurse for the money.
Can You Handle Blood and Other Bodily Fluids?
Being a nurse gets messy! You will see blood, urine, vomit… and other bodily fluids daily. It’s not the best career choice for those with a weak stomach. Luckily, nurses are required to wear PPE or personal protective gear. Gloves, prescription safety glasses, gowns, and masks can help protect you while you care for the people who need you most.
Are You Willing to Work Non-Traditional Hours?
Nurses don’t work traditional hours. A typical work week for a nurse consists of three twelve-hour shifts – and yes, you will be required to work some holidays and weekends. The hours may be long, but many nurses love the freedom they earn by having four days off a week. You can use these days to spend time with family and friends, continue your education, or get some much-needed rest and relaxation.
Do You Have Strong Communication Skills?
Your face will be the one they see when they come out of surgery or prepare to meet their doctor for the first time. Sometimes a calm and comforting conversation is all someone needs to put them at ease.
As a nurse, you will become the primary liaison between the healthcare facility you work for and your patients and their families. You must have a solid and soothing bedside manner. You’ll need to be prepared to discuss complex topics with grace and explain complicated doctors’ orders to patients who may have difficulty understanding medical jargon.
Consider Which Type of Nurse You’d Like to Be
There are multiple opportunities within the wide world of nursing. No matter where you are on your educational journey or what your finances look like, there is a level of nursing you can start working towards.
Certified Nursing Assitant (CNA)
Description: Often called “nursing aids,” CNAs typically work in long-term care facilities, like nursing homes, and assist with patient’s daily activities, including bathing, eating, getting dressed, and ambulating. CNAs are also the primary point of contact between family members are the care facility.
Requirements: High School Diploma or GED and a state-approved CNA program.
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
Description: LPNs provide essential communication between the healthcare team, the patient, and their family. They monitor the patients and do basic tasks like taking blood pressure and inserting IVs and catheters.
Requirements: Completing a Practical Nursing Program (about one year) and passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses.
Registered Nurse (RN)
Description: RNs are what most people typically associate with the career of “nurse” RNs work more closely with doctors to oversee patient care and can administer medication. More specialized roles open up at this level, including cardiac nursing, er nursing, perioperative nursing (surgical), and more.
Requirements: College Degree in either Associate of Science in Nursing or Bachelor of Science in Nursing. After graduation, you must pass the NCLEX-RN exam to earn your license.
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)
Description: APRNs take on a leadership position within a healthcare facility. Meaning they can make decisions and dictate their patients’ care. APRN positions include nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, nurse anesthetics, and more.
Requirements: Already be a licensed RN with a minimum of one year of practical experience, earn a Master of Science in Nursing, and take a certification exam from an accredited national organization.
Be Prepared for a Lifetime of Learning
It’s possible to start by becoming a CNA and save up to get your masters in nursing and eventually become a nurse practitioner or nursing educator. The wonderful thing about choosing a career in nursing is that your education never ends.
RNs must continue their education to keep their license active; requirements vary by state. Anyone who hopes to be a nurse must have a deep love of learning. Not only will you learn in classes, but you’ll also learn daily on the job. Your patients will teach you something new about your job every day. If there’s one thing that can be said about a career in nursing, it’s that you won’t get bored.