Everything you need to know about becoming a nurse
Nursing is a very popular career to get into, thanks to its high level of job satisfaction and the opportunity to dedicate yourself to helping others. If it’s a field that you have been considering working in, you probably already know the basics about what nurses do. However, you may still have further questions. In this post we answer some common queries about job progression, the route to becoming a nurse, the skills you’ll need to succeed, and whether or not nursing is a good career choice. Hopefully, this will help you to decide once and for all whether it’s the right job for you.
How do I become a nurse?
There are several different pathways open to you if you want to become a nurse, and the one that’s most appropriate for you will depend on your previous educational background, future career ambitions, and personal preferences. The quickest way to qualify is with an associate degree in nursing (ADN), however, these days most employers prefer you to possess at least a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). To truly stand out you might want to consider taking a master of nursing practice, or even a doctoral degree in nursing (e.g. a DNP or PhD) if you’re aiming for a career in research, teaching at a college, or working in a high-level executive nursing role.
Whichever path you choose, you will be required to complete a mixture of academic coursework and clinical placement hours. After graduating you will then need to sit the NCLEX exam, which is administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). Once you pass you’ll be able to apply for a license in the state you want to work in, although there may be other criteria that you need to meet too.
Your education doesn’t finish when you land your first job. An important part of being a nurse is engaging in continued professional learning, in order to keep your knowledge up to date and your skills fresh. There are always new treatments and technologies being developed, and it’s vital that you keep up with these.
What skills do I need to be a good nurse?
In addition to a strong education, being an excellent nurse requires a wide range of key abilities. Here are some of the most important:
- Empathy and compassion – to ensure that you can understand what your patient is going through and how best to support them
- Interpersonal skills – to communicate with a wide range of patients of all ages and from all walks of life
- Time management and organization – to handle many different cases at the same time
- Adaptability – to deal with emergency situations and unexpected problems
- Physical fitness – to work long shifts and spend many hours on your feet
- Emotional resilience – to cope with stressful and upsetting situations without letting them negatively impact your own wellbeing
- Attention to detail – to handle complex medical notes, specific dosages of medications, and complicated symptoms or side effects
- Integrity and professionalism – to inspire confidence and trust in those under your care
- Teamwork – to work alongside a number of other healthcare professionals
- Patience – to deal with difficult patients
- Optimism – to help you stay positive and reassure patients who are going through scary or stressful experiences
What career progression is open to nurses?
One of the fantastic aspects of having a career in nursing is the variety of options available to you if you want to progress to a higher level job role. For example, you can choose to specialize in any number of areas that are of particular interest to you or especially well suited to your skillset. These include:
- Pediatrics – working with children all the way through adolescence, treating a wide range of healthcare conditions and educating them on healthy living
- Training – teaching student nurses, and designing and evaluating nursing curriculums
- Geriatrics – working with senior citizens and specializing in the treatment of diseases related to aging
- Research – designing and running research studies, then analyzing the data with the aim of publishing your findings
- Oncology – assisting in the treatment of cancer patients and helping them to manage any side effects
- Midwifery – helping expectant mothers and assisting with the delivery of babies, as well as providing postpartum care and education
- Health policy – blending nursing and politics to review and revise policies, laws and regulations relating to healthcare
- Mental health – helping people who are struggling with mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, addiction, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder
- Anesthesia – administering anesthetic for medical procedures, monitoring patients throughout their surgery, and assisting them with their recovery
- Informatics – combining nursing with computing and information sciences to implement new technology and systems that can improve patient care
- Forensics – specializing in the treatment of patients who have been the victim of violent crime or assault, as well as consulting with attorneys to assist in legal cases
Is nursing a good career choice?
Becoming a nurse is undoubtedly an excellent career path to take. There’s an ongoing shortage of nurses in the US, and it’s the sort of job role that will always be in high demand. This is partly due to the country’s aging population and the health issues that this brings, as well as the increasing prevalence of conditions such as cancer, obesity, diabetes and heart disease. In fact, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the job outlook for registered nurses is set to grow faster than average over the next 10 years. All of this means that qualifying as a nurse can result in high levels of job stability, financial security, and employability.
In addition to this, nursing is also an extremely rewarding career to embark on. It enables you to spend your time helping others, providing not only medical care but also emotional support. This in turn has a positive effect on our wider society. It’s no wonder therefore that nursing is consistently chosen as one of the most trusted and ethical occupations!
Plus, as mentioned above, there are a wealth of different career progression options open to you as you build your skills, knowledge and experience. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to get started on your application to nursing school.