No matter what you choose to do as a career, it’s crucial you learn as much about that profession as you possibly can. That way, you’ll know before it’s too late – before you’re spent a lot of time, money, and effort on your studies – whether or not this is the job for you. You might simply know that you’re making the right choice, and perhaps you’ve had a dream since you were little about this job or that one, but it is still important to do your research. It would be heartbreaking to study, qualify, start work, and then realize it was all a mistake.
Nursing is the same as any other career in this regard. There is so much training to undergo, so many different experiences to see and understand that if you don’t know what you are letting yourself in for, you might find that you are miserable and scared. Miserable because you don’t enjoy what you are learning about or, later, what you are doing every day, and scared because you don’t know what other options are open to you.
To prevent this from happening, you need to know a lot about the profession of nursing. That way, you will be sure about what you are going to face in the future and what you need to have in place right now. Read on to find out just some of the elements that it will be important to know more about if you are thinking of becoming a nurse.
Nurses Have To Think For Themselves
The idea that nurses have to think for themselves shouldn’t be a surprising one. However, just how much autonomy they have, even right from the start, might be something of a surprise.
Unless you know a lot about the profession of nursing, you might have a feeling that nurses just take orders from doctors and other medical staff and then carry out those orders. Although that does form a part of what a nurse has to do on a daily basis, it’s certainly not the whole story. In fact, nurses have to think for themselves a lot of the time, making life or death decisions quickly and calmly. There aren’t always doctors around, and there isn’t always time for questions.
In order to give a patient the right level of care and to deal with emergency situations, nurses must be able to think on their feet. This is a crucial part of nursing, and although you will be working in a tightknit team, you may not be able to rely on the fact that others will be able to help you out all the time. Are you able to do this? Could you learn? Be honest with yourself as you answer these questions.
It’s Not Just Night Shifts
Another myth that seems to have grown up around the idea of how a nurse works and why it is a hard job is that all nurses have to work night shifts, particularly those who have just qualified and therefore don’t have any say in what they do or who they work.
Of course, night shifts are a part of nursing – people get sick 24 hours a day. However, you won’t be forced to do any kind of penance by working nights before you are allowed to work day shifts. Most of the time, the shifts are allocated on a fair basis, meaning that those working at night will be switched to work at day time instead, and vice versa. Of course, if you prefer night shifts and they work for you, it is likely you will be able to choose to work them over and above anything else.
Your shifts, how long they are, and how they are spaced out will also depend on the branch of nursing you are working in. Your family nurse practitioner schedule could be very different from the schedule of a nurse working in the ER or who assists during surgeries, for example. Again, this is a good reason to research the role you are intending to take on before you start working towards it. If the shift patterns or potential working hours aren’t going to work for you, there may be another area of nursing that allows more flexibility, or shorter hours, for example. You could even work on a remote basis, as there are a number of different jobs nurses can do working from home.
Hospital Jobs Are Competitive
Many nurses will find jobs within a hospital when they start looking. However, that hospital might not be the one they originally planned to work in – the one that is closest to their home, or that they already know and like, for example. It might be that, in order to start working right away, you will need to apply for jobs that are further afield or in different healthcare facilities.
The choice will be yours. You can wait for a job opening in the workplace you want most of all or apply for other jobs and start working. You might always keep an eye out for positions you can apply for elsewhere, but, of course, once you start, you are going to be needed.
The problem is not a lack of nursing jobs – there is a shortage, and nurses are always required. The problem is that, for new graduates, places are limited. Hospitals will have special programs that allow only a certain number of newly qualified nurses to work there. This is due to the additional time and expense required to help these trainees, as they will be completing their learning at the hospital itself.
Once you have done this, however, the world of nursing will open up to you, and you will have much more choice as to where you work in the future. The fact that you can’t work where you want to right from the start is something you will have to think about. It is only a short time issue, however, so do consider it carefully. Hopefully, it won’t put you off nursing altogether.
The ER Needs Experienced Nurses
Of all the areas of a hospital, the ER is the one that is busiest and requires the fastest thinking. Many people will be seriously unwell, and lives are saved here on a daily basis, often multiple times a day. This is why, if you want to be an ER nurse, you are going to need a lot of experience first. It is highly unlikely that someone who has only just started their nursing career would be able to work in the ER; it will take much longer.
If your dream is to be an ER nurse, you should look into exactly what you need. There will be additional qualifications and training to undertake, for example, and you will need a specific set of skills. These skills can be picked up in a variety of different departments, so if you’re hoping to become an ER nurse one day, this could mean you have to switch from department to department on a regular basis in order to pick up the skills you really need.
The ER can be one of the most satisfying of all places to work in a hospital as the results of your care can be seen instantly, but it is also one of the hardest and requires a highly trained, highly skilled, highly experienced nurse who is able to stay entirely calm under pressure even when multiple patients require life-saving care.
You Won’t Get Used To Someone’s Suffering
Before you become a nurse, the sight of someone suffering will be hard. After you qualify and start working as a nurse, the sight of someone suffering will still be hard. This is not something you can ever really get used to, even if you learn how to manage your emotions better as time goes on.
Nurses don’t tend to be squeamish around blood and injuries, so if at the moment you cannot stand the sight of blood, then start working on ways you can deal with it or consider entering a field that deals less frequently with such incidences. Yet this is not the only thing you need to contend with in your nursing career, and you will most certainly have to witness a lot of pain, anguish, and true suffering. This might be because they have been hurt or have a painful condition, or it might be because the person you are with has lost a loved one or is scared because their friend or family member is in surgery.
Whatever the reason and however it is being dealt with, as a nurse, your job is to help as much as possible in whatever way you can. This doesn’t mean you will ever get used to seeing someone who is suffering – it would be more of a concern if you did as you might be suffering from a mental health disorder – and that is something you will need to acknowledge before you commit to a career in nursing and all the hard work and study that goes along with it.