What You Need To Know Before Becoming A Nurse


Choosing a career is always going to be difficult. Or rather, it should be difficult. If you simply pick the first idea that comes to mind or the first thing you find when you search for a job, you will more than likely to be making a big mistake, and it’s the kind of mistake that can lead to many problems in the future. Although there is no rule that says you need to stick with your chosen career forever once you start it – and many people do switch and do other things once or even more times during their working lives – it’s going to be much easier if you get it right the first time.

This is why research is crucial. If you have an idea of what you might like to do in your career and then you delve deeper into it, ensuring that you leave no stone unturned as you search for every little piece of the puzzle, you’ll be in a much better position to not only start your job on the right foot but progress within it as well, knowing it was the right choice.

Nursing is a prime example of why research is important. Many people have an idea about what nursing is like through TV shows. Some will have seen nurse working first-hand. Others might just have read about what a nurse does. This is not enough; it won’t give you a good overview of what it’s like to be a nurse, and it might even give you an entirely wrong idea altogether. It’s far better to get a good idea of what you need to know before becoming a nurse well ahead of time so you can make good choices. Read on to find out just some of the additional useful information about nursing that can help you make a decision about whether or not it’s right for you.

You’ll Work More Than Your Scheduled Hours

You might think that nurses have great working schedules. They work for between eight and twelve hours at a time for either three, four, or five days, and then they have three or four days off entirely. So, it sounds as though it would give you more free time than a standard nine to five job might do. However, don’t rely on this to be accurate. Of course, sometimes you might find that you do your scheduled hours and no more, and you go home when you’re meant to, but in other cases, you might not be able to do that. You can’t, for example, just leave in the middle of surgery just because your shift is over. Plus, many nurses want to provide a continuity of care for their patients, which means sometimes staying longer to ensure that happens.

Plus, there will be times when someone needs you to cover their shift or when people are sick, and so you have to fill in the gaps. Because you know people will cover for you in emergencies, a good nurse will go in even if they were meant to be off.

In other words, don’t rely on the timings you’re given and be as flexible as possible, particularly when it comes to giving the best patient care and working as part of a team.

Being A Nurse Isn’t Just About Medical Care

When you are a nurse, you will be taking on a lot of medical knowledge and performing procedures, checks, and giving medication thanks to the knowledge you have and the job description you were given. However, there is so much more to nursing than just the medical care, and it is often these reasons that cause people to choose to become nurses in the first place. The medicine can be a secondary concern.

Nurses aren’t just nurses. They need to be carers, waiting for staff, technicians, therapists, electricians, housekeepers, mediators, advocates, and so much more. They are there to ensure the patient is as comfortable and comforted as possible, in whatever way that can be done.

With this in mind, it’s important that you think about your own personality before applying to become a nurse. If you don’t like dealing with the public and you’re not the best communicator, or you don’t have a lot of patience and so many more qualities that a nurse has to have, then this may not be the right option for you when choosing your career. If you love medicine and this was your main reason for considering nursing, don’t worry; there are many options still open to you where you can truly play to your strengths.

You Can Forget Yourself – Don’t

When you work as a nurse, your patients have to come first. It’s the main thing that a nurse has to do, and it’s what they want to do – they need to take care of their patients at all times. However, in order to do this, nurses can sometimes entirely forget themselves. They might skip a break to look after a patient, or they might grab an unhealthy snack rather than a proper lunch, or perhaps they will – as mentioned above – work much longer hours than they are meant to. All of this (and so much more) will be in the name of patient care. Many nurses have what is termed as a ‘sacrificial attitude’, allowing their own health and wellbeing to be ignored.

Although this is technically a positive thing in terms of the patient, and perhaps the overall reputation of the department or healthcare facility you work in, it’s not good for you to forget yourself in this way, and you mustn’t do it, at least not one hundred percent of the time. As a nurse, you won’t be able to take care of other people if you’re not taking care of yourself, which is why taking breaks, not working too many long days, exercising, eating healthily, sleeping well (even when you work shifts), and so on is crucial.

Burnout is a very real thing, and it can happen before you even realize it. If there is one thing you learn from your research about what it’s really like to be a nurse, it’s that self-care is as important as patient care.

You’ll Learn How Capable You Are Under Pressure

Until you experience life as a nurse, you probably won’t really have much of an idea about what pressure really means. You might have felt stressed when it came to project deadlines or essays to be handed in, for example, but this is nothing compared to the pressure nurses work under a lot of the time. As we said, burnout is something that can easily occur, and it’s the pressure of the work that can contribute to this.

Having said that, people are generally a lot more capable than they think they are, and it will amaze a lot of those who choose to become nurses just how much they can do, how well they can think, and what they can achieve when the pressure is on, as it might be in a real-life or death situation. Nurses should be able to fall back on their experience and knowledge, as well as being able to rely on their team to help them work under pressure, and perhaps even thrive because of it.

If you don’t enjoy working under pressure, nursing is not going to suit you. If you love it, or you feel that, thanks to your personality and what you already know about yourself, you would be good at it, then nursing could be ideal – you’ll certainly enjoy the many challenges that this specialist career brings.

There Are Dozens Of Ways To Be A Nurse

If you dismissed the idea of becoming a nurse because you thought there was only one type and you were sure that particular career was, therefore, not for you, you might want to do some more research. The truth is that there are dozens of different nursing careers you can follow, and it doesn’t mean you have to work in a hospital, in a team, or even directly with patients – at least some of the time.

Not only are there many different nursing roles to consider, but there is also a lot of career progression too. You might have an idea of the career path you want to attain mapped out when you begin your nursing, but this can change due to any number of things, and the good news is that there will always be a new and exciting path to go down. Of course, it will take extra learning, experience, and knowledge about what you enjoy and are good at, but if you want to take on a family nurse practitioner role, for example, that route will be there, the same as if you were to choose any other part of nursing to call your own.

Mistakes Happen

Finally, it’s important to be aware that mistakes happen. Whether you’re newly qualified, or you’ve been nursing for decades, you are human, and therefore you will make mistakes. In fact, the likelihood is that you’ll make many mistakes throughout your career, just as you would in any other job you had. Realizing that a mistake has occurred and what you need to do next will never get easier (which is a good thing; you don’t want to get blasé about errors), but that doesn’t mean you should dwell on them for too long. Your patients need you to be focused.

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