What You Should Understand Before Becoming A Nurse

When it comes to your career, you must do your research. It’s good to have an idea of what you might like to do in life, but an idea is not tangible enough to help you know if you’re making the right choices; it might be that you have the wrong concept of something or that you are only seeing an idealized version of it. This is why you need to look more deeply into any career you are considering so that you not only see the good points but the negative ones too (and every profession has negatives – once you know what they are, you can decide whether they are something you can deal with or not, and if not, you’ll need to start searching for work in a different direction). 

Nursing is a prime example of why research is so important. There is a general idea of what a nurse does, thanks a lot of the time to media and TV shows, for example, but this idea doesn’t tell the whole story. There are definitely parts that are left out, and these parts are important. So, with that in mind, we have put together some details for you to think about before you become a nurse. Nursing truly is one of the most rewarding careers, but not everyone is able to do it – it’s important to know as much as possible before embarking on your studies and all the hard work that will be involved. 

Nurses Think For Themselves A Lot Of The Time 

Something that the public often believes when it comes to nurses is that they are told what to do by senior colleagues, and until they achieve promotions and leadership positions themselves, they will simply have a list of jobs to take care of during their shift and they will spend their time working through them. 

This is partly true. Senior nurses, doctors, and other healthcare professionals will require nurses to carry out tasks. However, this is not the end of the work – nurses of all levels and all types of experience will need to think for themselves and carry out the work they see needs to be done, even if they haven’t been told to do it. This will involve making difficult decisions, acting quickly, and being confident in your abilities and knowledge. 

After a while, this kind of quick thinking will become second nature, and if you are excited by the idea of having a job in which you can really use your skills, nursing can work out well. If you prefer to be told what to do and not have to take on any additional responsibility, nursing won’t be ideal, no matter how much you might want to help people. 

Night Shifts Aren’t Always Bad Things 

Something that you must know if you intend to become a nurse, or are even just thinking about it, is that nurses work long hours, and they work shifts. After all, people get sick all the time, not just on weekdays and not just between ‘normal working hours’. This means that healthcare facilities need staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

You might initially think that working shifts is not something you would enjoy, and it’s certainly true that this kind of work is not for everyone. Even those who do it have to acknowledge that it’s not always easy to switch from one shift to another, and that they have to take extra care to ensure that they are healthy and get enough sleep – not just for themselves but for their patients too. 

However, shift work can have a number of advantages that could be exactly what you’re looking for. To begin with, working shifts means that you get plenty of variety, which can be important (some people thrive on routine, while others find it dull and need more of a change from day to day). Not only that, but when you have shifts to work, you will often find you have additional time off. In other words, in a standard job, you’ll work Monday to Friday and have every weekend off; five days on and two days off. In nursing, you might work three or four days or nights in a row and then have three or four days off in return (exactly how the shifts work depends on where you are working and what kind of work you do). 

If you find that everything else about being a nurse is positive and it’s only the shift work that you’re worried about, this can be dealt with. Although initially you’ll have to work these shifts, over time, as you gain more qualifications and experience, you can change the branch of nursing you are specializing in and find one that doesn’t ask for shift work. 

Hospital Jobs Are Competitive 

There is a nursing shortage, which means there is a high demand for nurses to work in a variety of different places and departments. Although a nursing shortage isn’t ideal for patients, if you want to become a nurse, it can be seen as a positive thing; there will be work out there for you once you graduate, and the more qualifications and experience you have, the more choice you’ll have when it comes to finding the right place to work. 

However, although everything we’ve said above is true, that doesn’t mean you can have your pick of jobs right from the start. Nursing jobs in hospitals are competitive, and although you will find work, it might not be in your first choice of healthcare facility. If you want to work in a specific hospital, perhaps because it’s close to home or you feel they treat their staff well or for any other reason, you may have to keep applying for jobs there and not assume you’ll get the first job you go for. 

Alternatively, if you want to start working as a nurse once you graduate, you may have to compromise. As we’ve said, you’ll certainly find a job, but it may be at a different hospital to the one you wanted. This might mean you’ll be further away from home, so you have a longer commute, for example. 

Although this is not the worst thing that could happen, and the fact that there are plenty of nursing jobs in general is a good thing, it is something you will need to bear in mind just in case it affects your plans in a negative way. 

You Will See People Suffer 

Something that not a lot of people will talk about when it comes to nursing but that is crucial to be prepared for is that you are going to see people at their most scared and vulnerable. You will see people who are in pain and who are suffering. You’ll have to deal with death and grief. 

Of course, this is not to say that there are no positives in nursing; the profession is full of wonderful moments. However, because you are working in literal life or death situations, you need to be aware that there will be bad days and that as a nurse, you are the one who has to deal with them and help other people through these bad times. This is a skill that you can learn and the more experience you have, the better you will be. It’s not something that necessarily becomes easier over time, however, and some people find it affects them. 

It’s important for nurses to remain calm and collected when they are at work, and they will need to keep their emotions held back a lot of the time. Empathy is crucial, and it’s a quality that nurses have to have in order to help their patients, but you must also be as professional as possible, which means the most intense emotions have to be kept in check, even if you are feeling them deeply. 

Holding these emotions in indefinitely is unhealthy, and therefore you’ll need to have an outlet. This might be a creative process, it might be therapy, it might be family and friends or colleagues – whatever it is, it’s crucial to have it in place so that you can protect yourself and continue to be a wonderful nurse for your patients. 

A Truly Rewarding Career 

Perhaps the most important thing to understand about nursing is just how rewarding it is as a career. No matter what stage you might be at, whether you’re already a nurse and you want to progress in your career, or you’ve just started your journey to become a nurse – or you’re still investigating the possibility and determining whether it’s the right step for you – you are going to get something from it, assuming you have the qualities needed to be a great nurse. These qualities include empathy, a love of learning, optimism, communication skills, confidence, and more. 

Nursing will change your life and show you how hard you can work and what you can achieve. At the end of every shift, you’ll know that you made a difference. There are so few careers that can offer this that if that’s what you’re looking for, nursing has to be the choice for you. All the hard work will be worth it.