Pursuing a career as a nurse is a great way to get involved in healthcare without going down the more “traditional” path of becoming a physician. The job market for nurses is more active than ever, and there are lots of opportunities around every corner. The pandemic really drove home the point that we need more experienced nurses, and a large number of people have been exploring this career path lately as a result.
And while nursing definitely seems like an attractive option for many reasons, it’s also something that you should approach with a cautious and prepared attitude. There are some things you should be aware of before starting a career as a nurse, and the earlier you go over those points, the better adjusted you’ll be for your actual career.
Don’t Underestimate the Workload in School
Nursing school is quite heavy, despite what some people might tell you. It’s something you should prepare for in advance, and you shouldn’t feel discouraged if it doesn’t “click” at first. In fact, many nursing students end up facing this feeling in their first semester, and it’s something that requires a certain mindset in order to overcome. But in the end, some just see it as part of the trial of becoming a nurse. After all, the actual job itself is going to be very heavy on the workload, so it’s a good thing that school prepares you for this.
Find the Right Specialization
There are many different specializations you can go for as well, just like a regular physician can choose their path. It’s a good idea to take a look at what’s available instead of jumping to a more general degree. For example, some people deal better in the position of a Family Nurse Practitioner. Others thrive in the chaotic environment of an emergency department, and pursue careers as ER nurses.
There are various options to pick from, and they’re all suitable for people with different attitudes and preferences in life. Take your time and choose something that reflects who you are and how you feel. Remember that this is what you’ll be doing for a long time.
You Don’t Have to Attend In-Person Classes for Everything
It doesn’t matter what kind of specialization you want to choose; there are likely some viable options in online education for it. Even something more niche like pediatric acute care nurse practitioner programs are not a problem if you go through a good institution, like Baylor University. It’s a good idea to explore those options in as much detail as you can, because online education is becoming a hot topic in many fields right now, and nursing is no exception.
There are many obvious advantages to obtaining your education online. Sure, you’ll have to compensate on some other fronts (like networking – more on that below), but in the end, the time and effort you’ll be able to save is often well worth it. Online education is the way of the future in many regards right now, and you should definitely explore what it has to offer to you.
Have a System for Memorization
There is a lot of memorization involved in being a nurse. There’s no going around that, even with the help of modern technology. You will need to remember a lot of information and think quickly on your feet, and those skills can set you apart from other nurses in your area. It’s a good idea to have some sort of system for memorization, and get used to it as quickly as possible in the beginning of your education.
It will only get harder, even after you’ve graduated, so the earlier you try to make this a habit, the more it will benefit you in the long run. Try to exchange ideas with others, because you never know when the student right next to you may have come up with the perfect system for your own specific needs.
Learn to Manage Your Time Well
Another important aspect to being a nurse – both during your education and once you’ve graduated – is learning to manage your time well. This is unfortunately a skill that schools are not going to teach you explicitly, but will rather attempt to force on you with tight deadlines and otherwise restrictive schedules. That’s done for a reason though – your actual career is not going to look too different from that in terms of pace. This is why you will need to do everything in your power to learn how to manage your time properly, and do the most with what you have. You’ll often find yourself short on time to complete certain tasks, forcing you to juggle more important ones in a difficult manner. And that’s a skill of its own.
Remember to Network Properly
We touched on this above – and it’s something you must absolutely focus on from as early as possible. Proper networking is important for most careers, and that goes double for being a nurse. It might surprise you how much political intrigue there is behind the scenes once you get hired, and that’s something you’ll just have to get used to.
If you’re in online school, this can be a bit more challenging, but it’s still definitely not impossible. Just make sure to talk to all your fellow students as often as you can, join any special events, and talk to your professors outside of class hours when that’s an option. You need to start building your professional profile now, because this is going to impact your future career much more than you might suspect.
And as we said earlier, don’t get discouraged if things don’t work out from the beginning. Becoming a nurse is a difficult path full of challenges, and it requires you to adapt to the environment properly, which can take some time. Keep your head up, use all resources available to you, and don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you feel that you’re getting dragged down. There are often more solutions to those problematic situations than you can imagine, but not all of them will be immediately obvious.