8 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Becoming A Nurse
You might be in your last year of high school and wondering what you should be moving on to next. You might already be working, but you’re tired of your current career, and you want to do something else; perhaps something you have always wanted to do. Maybe you’ve taken some time away from your career to have a family or go traveling – or anything else that you have chosen to do – and now you’re ready to go back to work and try to decide what career to get into. We all have to make big decisions like this at some point, and it’s certainly a good idea to think carefully about the direction you want to go in, especially if there is a lot of training and time (not to mention money) that will need to go into whatever it is you choose.
Nursing is one of the careers that might come to mind. After all, if you want something stable with great job security, something that will make a big difference in the world, and something where you are sure to be needed once you graduate with your nursing degree, this makes a lot of sense. Yet just because it makes so much sense, that doesn’t mean that it’s the right career path for everyone, and there are some important questions to ask yourself before you begin your nursing journey. Read on to find out what they are. Answering them honestly will give you the best idea of whether nursing is right for you.
Why Do You Want to Be A Nurse?
Asking yourself why you want to be a nurse in the first place is the most basic question, and it needs a truly honest answer. If you’re only in it for the money, or because you know you’ll have a job for life, that’s fine, but it doesn’t mean that you’ll enjoy your job or be able to make the most of it.
Nursing asks a lot of those who work within it, physically, emotionally, and mentally. It can even feel overwhelming at times. If your main reason for wanting to be a nurse isn’t because you want to help people or think it’s a vocation for you, you might encounter difficulties. That’s not to say you can’t still be a nurse, but if your reasons are not altruistic ones, you might regret your decision at some point.
Do You Understand What Nurses Do?
You might have a vague understanding of what nurses do, perhaps gleaned from TV shows or books, or even because you know someone who is a nurse and who talks about what they do from day to day. Unfortunately, these media will only give you half of the story, and although it might sound exciting, there is more to nursing than TV shows, movies, and even your friends might portray.
This is why it’s important to visit a healthcare setting before deciding to become a nurse and begin studying. Get in touch with a hospital to see if you can shadow a nurse for the day, or at least be in one or two departments to watch what happens.
Not all hospitals will be happy to allow this, but it is always worth asking, especially if you can visit a hospital that specializes in teaching. Alternatively, you might choose to become a volunteer in a healthcare center. This might not be a hospital; it could be a senior care home or a homeless shelter, or anywhere else where medical care is administered. It will give you some idea of what it is a nurse does, as will thoroughly researching online – find blogs written by real nurses to get an idea of what you might need to deal with daily, and then you’ll be more prepared, as well as being more sure about becoming a nurse.
Are You A People Person?
Nursing is, of course, a job that requires you to be with patients. Those patients might be extremely sick or in a lot of pain. They might be scared. They might even be dying. It is your job to help them with their condition or injury and soothe and comfort them too – it is what they will expect from a nurse. So if you’re not a people person and you don’t like being around other people or you find it hard to know what to say when you have to make conversation, or you simply prefer to work completely alone because it’s more comfortable for you as an introvert, nursing might not be a good choice.
Remember, it’s not just the patients you’ll need to talk to. Doctors and other medical staff (including your fellow nurses), patients’ families, care home workers, and more will all be expecting to hear either important medical information from you or gain comfort from you. You need to be able to communicate well with a variety of different people.
If you are an introvert and you prefer to work by yourself, there are still plenty of careers that will suit you wherein you can help people, but nursing might not be something that suits you very well. Or you might look at it another way; if you want to help people and feel that nursing is the best way for you to do that, it might enable you – with plenty of hard work – to become more of a people person and to develop your communication skills.
Are You A Team Player?
The one thing that every nurse must do, no matter what healthcare setting they are working in or what level of nursing they are working at is to be a team player. Teamwork is what nursing is all about, as it is this that will enable you to help your patients in the best possible way. There is no place for egos in nursing, as everything must be done with the patient’s best interests at heart. This means that, if you need to take the lead, you should do it, but it also means that if someone else must lead and you need to step back, you should do that. Everyone is going to have different levels of skill and experience, and this is what will determine how the team dynamic works. It’s something that all nurses will need to understand and respect.
Not everyone is happy to work in a team. It might be because you are an introvert as mentioned above and you would rather work alone, or it could be because you find it hard to let go and not be a leader (or the opposite; you find it hard to lead when you know you should). Whatever the reason, if teamwork is something you dislike, then nursing really won’t work out as a career for you. If, however, teamwork is something you don’t have much experience in, or you’ve never been good at before, you can learn to be better at it.
Are You Committed to Learning?
To be a nurse, you need to be committed to learning, and you need to study hard. Initially, you will need a nursing degree to become an RN (registered nurse), which is hard work. However, there will be several options open to you regarding your studies, and although in the past would-be nurses might have been limited in their choices, today anyone who wants to be a nurse should have access to a nursing college. This is because as well as being physical schools that can be attended like a standard college, there are also online nursing degrees available.
Online nursing degrees offer a great deal more flexibility since you can study at your own pace and in your own time, so even if you have a family to take care of or a full-time job, you will still be able to study to become a nurse (it may take longer than if you went to a physical school for regular classes, but it is much more convenient).
However, if you want to excel at being a nurse, your learning won’t stop with your first degree. There is always going to be more to learn as new innovations and technologies come into being, and to be a good nurse, you’ll need to be committed to learning throughout your career. You might even choose to take specific additional qualifications such as a DNP (Doctorate of Nursing Practice) so that you can advance your career and becoming a nursing leader. If you do this, many more opportunities will open up for you in terms of your profession, and it might be just what you’re looking for. However, to get there, you need to be dedicated to your studies and be willing to continue to learn throughout your life.
Are You Resilient?
Nursing is a wonderful career that can offer you a huge amount of satisfaction and reward. However, it is also a massively challenging career, and if you want to succeed, you will need to be extremely resilient. There will be setbacks, and a lot of the time you’ll need to be problem-solving. Even when you think you have dealt with an issue, something else might happen, and you’ll be back where you started.
A nurse cannot give up and cannot lose faith that there is a solution; the patient is counting on them. This is why resilience is so crucial; nurses just have to keep going, no matter how tired they are, or how shaken they are because of a patient’s condition or even how they have been treated (not everyone has respect for nurses, unfortunately).
Can You Keep Calm During Emergencies?
There are many important personality traits that a nurse will need to have, and keeping calm during emergencies, even when there is chaos all around, is certainly one of the most important. A nurse who panics and isn’t able to think clearly is not going to be of much use in an emergency, particularly one in which the patient’s life is at stake.
To be a nurse, you need to stay focused and calm and be a stable member of the team. If no one can count on you to be there, doing your job in the way that’s expected of you, nursing is not something you will excel at, and it’s wise to think of something else to do.
Can You Handle Suffering and Death?
There are no two ways about it; when you are a nurse, you will be around people who are in pain and suffering greatly, and you will be there when people die from all kinds of conditions or even injuries sustained in an accident. This is not going to be a rare event either; it’s going to be something that happens almost every day.
Will you be able to handle this? This is the question that you need to be asking yourself because no matter how much knowledge you have or how much you want to help people, if you are going to be unable to deal with the upsetting side of nursing, then you may wish to look for another career in which you can utilize your skills.
Of course, no nurse will ever truly get used to a patient dying or not being able to help someone who is in great pain, but the skill of a nurse is that they won’t allow their feelings to get in the way of their work. Instead, they will get on with their shift and, if necessary, they will let their emotions out later. This might be in the form of talking with friends or even seeing a therapist. It might be written down in a diary or as a blog. There are many different ways to deal with the emotional trauma that comes with being a nurse, but the key is not to let it affect you when you are working.
Although this is a skill that can be learned over time, it’s important to know that you will have to learn it; nursing offers many positive things and can be such a beautiful career path, but there will always be pain and death included within that, and you must be aware of this before you begin.