The realities of a career in nursing and whether it is right for you

Embarking on a healthcare career takes huge amounts of time, commitment, and passion. In particular, nursing is a career that requires every ounce of dedication you have in you, and then some. From the right kind of personality alongside the correct education, becoming a nurse is not a walk in the park, but it can be one of the most wonderful and fulfilling careers you will ever decide to do. If you want to know if you would thrive as a nurse, read on, as here are the naked truths of being a nurse.

There are No Shortcuts

Nurses are expected to know everything. Of course, they cannot do that, but a long road of education and work experience is necessary before they can treat patients on their own. After all, patients rely on nurses when they need medical attention, so it is fitting that nursing is a job that requires a long path. There are no shortcuts when it comes to becoming a nurse, so if it is something you want to do, make sure you are willing to put years into the journey. At a minimum, a degree is required; however, many nurses go onto study their masters and get their nursing certifications. This pursuit of education and experience will cost you time, but nursing itself will also cost you lots of time, so it is great preparation.

Thankfully, there is always a need for nurses, so you can be sure that all of your hard work on the journey to becoming a nurse will end in a rewarding career.

You Can Train Online

Many people assume that receiving an education in a vocational course requires physically attending school, but this simply isn't the case.

These days, becoming a nurse does not mean you must travel to nursing school each day to train; you can learn from the comfort of your own home with your laptop on your lap. Many universities offer online courses in a range of medical and nursing degrees, meaning you can get your nursing certifications without having to travel to a particular university. Many nurses gain their home qualifications, which doesn't mean that any education is missed out on. You can still keep in contact with your peers and your tutors, and there are plenty of opportunities for placements.

The wonderful thing about nurse students having the ability to attend their schooling online means that more people receive the opportunity to become a nurse. There is an ever-growing demand for nurses, so the more people that receive the opportunity, the better. It allows those who want to change their career a chance to learn from home while keeping their full-time job. Those who can't up and move to their nearest university that teaches teaching courses, a chance to follow their dream of becoming a nurse and receive their nursing certifications.

There are a Variety of Paths

Nursing is not a one path career. There are plenty of different options for specialized areas, including family nurse practitioners, adult gerontologists, nurse educators, and more. You can choose which nursing certifications will be right for you, depending on which course you would like to take. It will be a good idea if you are thinking about studying nursing to research all the different specialized areas to determine which path you will want to go down, as that will influence what sort, of course, you will apply for. Whether you choose to work with children, the elderly, of somewhere specific like critical care, knowing where you want to go before you start training would be greatly beneficial.

Don't worry too much if you can't decide right away; however, there is always a time while you are studying a more general nursing degree for you to figure out which area you'd like to specialize in. When you are on placements, you'll discover what you enjoy the most and what you are best at.

After a degree, a masters will enable you to pursue the specialty you want to. There is no one route fits all, but there certainly are a great variety of nursing certifications that you can work towards to get you into the nursing career you desire.

The Learning Never Ends

Once educated and experienced, education will not end. Nurses don't magically switch off their ability to better their talents as a nurse once they have their nursing certifications under the belt; being on the job brings a whole new round of education.

At times, nurses get stumped. A nurse not knowing what to do happens more often than you would think, but what makes a nurse special is their ability to learn through errors and experience. As a nurse, it is essential to admit when you don't know something and seek others' advice. This means knowledge is constantly being received, and education takes place long after leaving the classroom. Even nurses who have been working for decades still find themselves learning new pieces of information and areas to brush up on.

As well as learning through experience, the medical world is constantly evolving. This means nurses will always have to learn about new treatments and methods of doing tasks. If a new method or treatment suddenly becomes available on the market, nurses will be required to learn this new method and adopt it into their work.

Certain Personality Traits are Essential

Becoming a nurse is not simply about nursing certifications and experience. To succeed, you must have certain personality traits. Firstly, a thick skin is essential. Nurses have to deal with plenty of criticism, so lessening sensitivity to comments from peers, superiors, and patients is crucial so that you don't break down. Nursing isn't an easy slope; there will be times where you will be criticized heavily, so making sure you can adjust and bounce back from that is part of the job. Knowing when to shut out unnecessary comments or take comments on board without becoming upset, are traits nurses need to be able to manage.

Empathy is another extremely important personality trait. Nobody goes to the hospital expecting to be taken care of by somebody who doesn't genuinely care whether or not they recover. Nurses need empathy to do the best job they can; sometimes, there will be difficult patients who may act up or behave badly, and nurses should hold the ability to look past this behavior and understand that deep down, the patient is hurting and just needs the best level of care possible.

Humility is another crucial personality trait of nurses. Sure, confidence can get you far, but knowing when to accept when you cannot perform a certain task or when the patient is right, and their treatment isn't working, is essential. As previously mentioned, the learning never ends, and accepting that you will not always be correct and adjusting your methods from time to time is all part of being a nurse.

Having Nurse Friends is Important

Having friends who have been through getting their nursing certifications and working on the job can be extremely helpful. Most people who do not work in the nursing industry have no idea what it is actually like, so it helps to have understanding nursing friends who you can confide in. It is no secret that nursing is a demanding and difficult job; you will have shifts that last twelve hours, have to do overtime, and will be dealing with a vast array of people. After a particularly difficult day on the job, a sit down with your best nursing friends, and a lengthy chat and laughter will be exactly what you desperately need.

Another reason nurse friends are a gift is that they will teach you new things about the job. Whether they have been working for months or decades, they will be able to provide you with new information that may just help you excel at your job, and you can return the favor by sharing your own wealth of nursing knowledge. If you are struggling with a certain part of the job, having a friend guide, you in the right direction would be greatly beneficial.

When you are struggling with a task or are overloaded, having good friends nearby will mean they might help you out. It helps, too, if you are always willing to give a helping hand. In nursing, friendships are all about lifting each other, so clinging to your friends is the best way to get ahead and enjoy time as a nurse.

It Requires Flexibility

Nursing isn't a nine till five job; while the number of hours might be similar to any other ordinary job, the hours required can change. For example, one week may entail three twelve-hour shifts, while the next you may be working five eight-hour shifts, and you will never know when you are required to do overtime. With this uncertainty, flexibility is a must. This is something to consider if you have young children or you enjoy sticking to a stable routine. If switching from an eight-hour day, five-day a week job, your schedule will be turned upside down, and will suddenly include 12-hour shifts, night-fits, and plenty of overtime.

Flexibility can also be necessary when heading towards receiving your nursing certifications; while learning, there may be times when you have to be put on placement. If you are already working, this means you may be required to put your new nursing career first and be flexible around it.

Watching a Patient Submit to Their Illness Will Never Get Easier

Witnessing death is hard to encounter, and nurses go through it more often than most of the population. It's probably easy to imagine that this means it won't be as hard once they have seen multiple deaths, but this simply isn't the case. Being a nurse requires the ability to deal with sickness and death, but it will still get to you. Nurses have to be strong in the face of illness and death, despite what they may be feeling emotionally, and will often play the role of a rock for a grieving family. To be able to deal with all of this requires a certain level of emotional control on top of the empathy previously touched upon.

Stress is Part of the Job

The stress isn't over once you've received your nursing certifications – nurse burnout is a thing. Shift after shift, the stresses can build up. These stresses include not enough staff, too much work, exposure to illnesses, witnessing death, dealing with difficult patients, and much, much more. It is no exaggeration when people say nursing is a stressful job. It takes a massive amount of strength and dedication to be a nurse, and you will have to put up with a lot. Of course, it is not all doom and gloom, but knowing the worst to come is important for knowing if you are the right kind of person for the job.

On top of emotional stress, there is also the physical demands of the job. Nurses perform daily tasks that do require physical fitness, including lifting patients from their beds. This means, to be a nurse, a certain level of physical fitness is required as well as emotional strength.

You will Fall in Love with the Job

Despite all the obstacles that nurses complain of and the many stresses they must go through each day, many nurses still claim that it is all worth it. The long-shifts and demanding patients can become tiresome. Still, there are always those sweeter moments to lift you: seeing the brightness is a previously ill patient's eyes, the laughter shared with your colleagues, and the knowledge that you are contributing one of the most beautiful things to society – the ability to help others.

Becoming a nurse is not a decision that can be made on a whim; there are so many things to consider. Nurses are well-educated, caring, humble, dedicated, experienced, and so, so much more. To become a nurse, it will take a large amount of drive and passion, but if you do have what it takes, you may end up being in one of the most benevolent, rewarding careers in the world.

Photo: Rusty Watson on Unsplash