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When it comes to looking at any new and major career change, the first and most important question you should ask is whether it’s a good fit for you. There are a lot of people who want to and are enthusiastic, especially when it comes to nursing. The role certainly needs enthusiastic people, but it also requires people who are suited to the unique challenges it will throw at them. Here, we’re going to look at what some of those challenges are and what you can do to rise to them.
You have the compassion to spare
It should be clear that anyone who wants to become a nurse should be a “people person” first and foremost. Compared to doctors, nurses actually spend a lot of their day-to-day dealing with people face-to-face. As such, they need to be able to show empathy, concern, and kindness and need to be able to be patient with their patients throughout, as well. There are some people who want to genuinely help others and have a concern for their wellbeing, but may not be as compassionate as the job needs. There are plenty of healthcare careers outside of nursing that may suit such people better than a nursing role.
Do you have excellent attention to detail?
As mentioned, there are a lot of skills that nurses need to master to ensure optimal medical care for their patients. There are a lot of detail-oriented tasks that nurses have to take care of. They are an important part of the patient care planning team, they record the patient’s medical history, they monitor their health. Of course, they also operate a lot of medical devices, perform diagnostic tests, and administer the prescribed treatment and medications. If you’re a person who gets mixed up on the details easily or is prone to distraction, then the role of a nurse might not be the best fit for you. Your attention to detail gets tested on a daily basis in this role.
You’re able to deal with authority
Some people have no problem deferring to authority. However, others may not like being told what to do. Needless to say, the latter kind of person may not be well-suited for a career in nursing. Both in training and in your daily work, you have to work with doctors, charge nurses, and even patients who will tell you what to do. Similarly, nurses are regularly second-guessed and scrutinized by their colleagues and patients, especially when they are in training. There are few environments where this scrutiny is more important than healthcare facilities, where people’s health is at stake. If you can’t stand someone looking over your work and taking issue with it, then nursing might not be the best pick for you.
You’re open to on-going education
Some people are glad to be out of education, either leaving it as soon as they can or sticking with it until they get that degree, even if they have to grit their teeth to do so. If you’re not willing to continue investing your time and energy in education, then nursing may not be the career for you. Take a look at the top schools that offer LPN programs to see the kind of education you can expect if you want to become a licensed practical nurse. Nurses have to go through regular training in the job as well to make sure they meet the stands of the workplace, and any advances in your career are likely to come with new educational programs, too.
You are a critical thinker
A career in nursing is not anything as simple as being able to repeat what you have learned in a case of rote memorization. There are a lot of skills you’re going to find yourself relying on time and time again. However, while nurses have to rely on familiar skills and also have to learn to deal with authority, they also experience a high level of autonomy and have to show a lot of critical thinking. In fact, inductive and deductive reasoning are amongst some of the most important soft skills that registered nurses need to be able to bring to their job. From assessing patients to implementing plans of care with their specific needs in mind, nurses must always be thinking on their feet.
You want a career that goes in multiple directions
Working as a nurse may, for the majority of people, involve working in a healthcare facility with other nurses, doctors, and patients. However, there are plenty of career paths in nursing to consider and not all of them are going to include primary patient care. Even in that field, there are lots of specialties to pursue, such as labor, anesthesia, geriatrics and more. Outside of that field, you can become a school nurse, you can work in hospice care, you can work as a nurse educator in nursing schools, and you can take a more administrative role. There are plenty of nurses who will gladly keep doing primary patient care throughout their careers, but it’s one that offers more choice than many immediately recognize.
You are willing to be truly dedicated to your work
There are a lot of people in the workforce who are good at their job and who fit their role well, but they’re not truly dedicated to their work. There’s nothing wrong with that, either. Some people simply aren’t as career-motivated as others. However, if you are a person who is passionate about your work, then nursing might be the right choice for you. If you feel like you are drawn to the profession, that you want to do it even if there isn’t much chance of earning accolades, or you want to give back through nursing, then you have one of the most important qualities of all.
You’re competitive and willing to work flexible
While most nurses work in hospital jobs, it’s also important to know that getting a place in a hospital job immediately is not as easy as it might seem. Despite the fact that there is a nursing shortage, those primary care positions tend to be some of the most competitive. If you’re willing to work hard to make sure you get those jobs over other people, you can land them. However, especially as a new nursing graduate, you should also be aware of how much flexibility in your work you can find. There are a lot of short-term positions and other facilities you can work in as a nurse, with specialty and critical care roles being particularly accepting of new nurses.
You can cope with seeing challenging things
As a nurse, while you need to remain compassionate with your patients at all times, you also need to be able to cope with disease, suffering, and death. In most settings, they are a reality of the job. Being able to manage your mental health as a nurse is crucial. If you do not think you are able to go through the gamut of human suffering with your desire to help intact, then you might be better suited for a position that is less hands-on. This doesn’t mean that nurses are inhuman or impervious to feeling empathy, of course, it just means that they are better able to cope with those emotions.
If you are dedicated to becoming a nurse, then there’s certainly no reason to want to stop you. It’s a much-needed role that can be highly rewarding. However, it’s important to know what you’re getting into when you start that career path.