There are loads of potential advantages to pursuing a career in nursing, but you must be aware that nursing is also a challenging field. The work is physically and mentally demanding, and you are likely to encounter stressful situations in the workplace. You will also need to invest in various nursing certifications before you meet the criteria for licensure. For that reason, nurses must be fully committed to the profession and prepared to work hard. Nursing is not for everyone, but it can offer a rewarding career path for anyone with the drive to succeed. On that note, here are nine tips to become an excellent nurse:
1. Understand the advantages and disadvantages
Being a nurse has dozens of wonderful benefits, including diverse job opportunities, flexible work schedules, and the chance to help people. That said, like any profession, nursing also has its drawbacks. Being a nurse is hard work and you will have difficult and stressful days while working in the profession. Completing nursing certifications is a massive commitment and you need to be sure that this is the right career choice for you. For that reason, you must do sufficient research and gain a true understanding of the role and expectations within the industry. Here are some of the main advantages and disadvantages of working as a nurse:
Advantages of nursing
- Helping others - The role of a nurse is to help people and save lives.
- High job satisfaction - Nurses do meaningful work and often get a great sense of pride and satisfaction from their job role.
- In-demand - There is a growing demand for skilled nurses worldwide. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates that the industry will grow by 7% by 2029, which is faster than other occupations. This means qualified nurses enjoy excellent job security and plenty of career opportunities.
- Diverse job opportunities - Nurses can work in various settings, including hospitals, care facilities, doctors’ surgeries, and outpatient community centers.
- Earning potential - Registered nurses earn an average salary of $73,300 per year, according to BLS. Plus, nurses can boost their earning potential with additional nursing certifications and experience.
- Physical demands - Nurses are required to be on their feet for most of the day. This is physically tiring and may be difficult for people prone to injuries, such as lower back pain.
- Long hours - Nurses have to work long hours, with a typical shift being up to 12 hours. You may also be required to work nights, weekends, and holidays.
- Lengthy training - The nursing certifications needed for licensure require time and financial commitment. Generally, you will need to earn a bachelor’s degree and a master’s program before being eligible for state licensure. People interested in the nursing profession must carefully consider whether they have the time and commitment to earn the necessary nursing certifications.
- Stress - Nurses don’t get a lot of downtime and have to handle stressful situations daily, for example, helping seriously ill patients and supporting their families. Nurses are at risk of physical and emotional burnout and must develop strategies to cope with stress.
Disadvantages of nursing
You must weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of nursing and decide whether you are prepared to deal with the challenges. Make sure that you do this before you pursue nursing certifications or invest in training to become a nurse. You can learn more about the role and responsibilities of a nurse by researching online or completing work experience in the industry.
2. Choose the right nursing school
If you have decided that a career in nursing is right for you, the next step is to complete the required nursing certifications. There is a massive variety of nursing schools to choose from and you must take the time to choose the best school and program. If you decide to complete your nursing certifications via campus-based learning, take the time to visit different locations and get a feel for the site. If possible, try to meet some of the course lecturers and check out the campus facilities to decide whether it’s the best location for you. According to allnursingschools.com, some main factors to consider when comparing nursing schools include course length, classroom structure, specialties on offer, and clinical rotations. Decide what you want in a school and prioritize the things that you want most; for instance, is it more important to have a campus close to home or to have access to a wider selection of nursing certifications and programs?
Online courses can be another fantastic option for people wanting to earn their nursing certifications with more flexibility. Online nursing certifications allow you to study at your pace and fit learning around your current schedule. This makes distance learning ideal for nursing students who are working or have other responsibilities, such as children. Again, it’s important to compare different online course providers and take the time to choose the best program based on your lifestyle and learning preferences. You can find lots of useful guides offering advice and tips for online nursing class success.
3. Earn higher nursing certifications
Once you have completed your nursing degree, you will need to earn higher nursing certifications to broaden your knowledge and experience. Higher nursing certifications are designed to advance your skills and prepare you to work in a clinical setting. Most graduates enroll in a master’s in nursing and choose to specialize in a particular area of nursing. A master’s in nursing will usually take one year to complete, although it may take longer to complete the internship requirements for licensure. Some nurses also go on to earn a Ph.D. in nursing. This is not a requirement for licensure, although it will give you a competitive edge in the nursing field. Nurses with a Ph.D. benefit from becoming recognized experts in their field and play a fundamental role in developing effective healthcare policies. They also typically enjoy higher salaries and are more likely to secure senior roles in the nursing sector. Completing higher nursing certifications like a Ph.D. is a huge undertaking that will require many years of studying and assessments. With that in mind, you must carefully consider the pros and cons before deciding to enroll in higher nursing certifications.
4. Find a suitable nursing specialty
Nurses can choose to go into various nursing specialties once they have earned the required nursing certifications and become licensed to practice. Registered nurses don’t have to specialize, but choosing a nursing specialty is a popular option that has dozens of advantages. One of the biggest benefits of becoming a specialist nurse is that you will focus your efforts on the area of nursing that you find most interesting. You will also develop your skills and experience in a particular field, which in turn should improve your patient care and make you feel more confident in the workplace. This is likely to result in higher career satisfaction in the long-run. Specialist nurses also tend to enjoy higher earning potential and better career opportunities.
Some popular nursing specialties worth considering include pediatric nursing, midwife nursing, emergency nursing, and family care nursing. The nursing specialty you pick will have a significant impact on your career, so don’t make the decision lightly. Experts at American Sentinel University recommend considering the day to day work and checking whether the role will suit your personality type. For example, people who enjoy socializing and meeting new people may be suited to a nursing career in emergency care, whereas introverts might prefer working as a nurse researcher. A few other key factors to consider when choosing a nursing specialty include working conditions, pay expectations, and local job markets. You will also need to check whether your chosen specialty will require you to complete any additional nursing certifications.
5. Get to know your patients
Nurses perform a nurturing role, and you must enjoy spending time with your patients. Many people feel extremely anxious when they have to go to the hospital or receive medical treatment. The way that you treat your patients will have a major impact on the overall experience that they have while using healthcare services and facilities. You should be there to help your patients and provide valuable support. A great nurse will take the time to get to know their patients and their families and put them at ease. You should have a clear understanding of the needs of each patient and tailor your care to suit their preferences. When you complete your nursing certifications, you will be taught various aspects of patient care, such as listening and communication skills. That said, it’s a good idea to constantly look for ways to expand your skills and enhance the patient experience. According to nursechoice.com, registered nurses can improve patient care by showing empathy and compassion, creating individualized care plans, and encouraging patients to self-care when possible. You can also complete additional nursing certifications designed to develop your patient care skills.
6. Commit to continuous learning
The healthcare sector is constantly changing and advancing with the help of modern medical technology. Effective nurses should be proactive when it comes to their learning and make an effort to remain up to date with the current industry trends and developments. To become an excellent nurse, you must commit to continuous learning and actively seek opportunities to develop your nursing skills and abilities. There is an excellent selection of nursing certifications available to enhance your skills on various topics, including patient care, medical knowledge, healthcare technology, and so on. You can broaden your skills by completing extra nursing certifications online, attending seminars and conferences, and reading healthcare literature.
7. Network with other healthcare professionals
The best nurses tend to have large professional networks. Networking allows you to share ideas with other nurses and develop your skills and experience. It will also allow you to establish valuable relationships with people in the healthcare industry which may benefit you and your patients in the future. Keep an eye out for relevant networking events being held in your local area. You can also grow your professional network by connecting with people online using social platforms like Linkedin. Joining a professional nursing organization can be another excellent way to connect with other nurses and remain up to date with the latest industry trends.
8. Make your health a priority
Nurses spend a lot of time caring for other people, but you must also make your health a priority. Nursing is stressful and the job can take a toll on your physical, mental, and emotional health. With that in mind, you must pay good attention to your wellbeing and take steps to ensure that you remain healthy while working as a nurse. This should involve eating a balanced diet, drinking enough water, and getting enough sleep. It’s also important to maintain an active lifestyle and get the recommended amount of exercise each week. Experts recommend that adults should do at least 150 hours of moderate exercise a week (such as a brisk walk) or 75 minutes of intense exercise (for example, running). Following a consistent exercise routine will keep your heart healthy and help you keep to your preferred weight. Exercise can also be a highly effective way to fight feelings of stress.
9. Remember to take time to relax
Don’t forget to dedicate some time in your schedule towards relaxation. Working as a nurse is hard work, and you must have enough downtime to relax and unwind. Make sure you find outlets to help you cope with stress and achieve a calm state of mind. Some relaxing activities to try include listening to music, watching TV, doing art and crafts, or having a warm bubble bath.