Nursing as a profession is one of those careers that is just as fulfilling for you as it is helpful for society. In fact, nurses are known for being some of the most important types of healthcare professionals around. One might even go so far as to say that without nurses, the healthcare system as we know it could not function.
If you find yourself inspired to pursue a career as a nurse, you might be wondering just what you need to do to become a qualified nurse. There are actually a number of different routes that you can take to become a nurse, and every nurse’s journey to success is unique. Furthermore, there are a variety of different roles that a nurse can fulfill in the field of healthcare and various requirements for nurses looking to serve in such roles.
Before you get started on your own path to become a nurse, you will want to take the time to decide what type of nurse you want to be and what sort of healthcare setting you see yourself working in. Once you have such things more or less figured out, you can then take definitive steps towards starting your career in nursing.
Here are a few things about how to start a career in nursing for you to keep in mind as you consider your future career as a nurse.
You Do not Have to Start With a Nursing Degree
In an ideal world, you would know right from the day you graduate high school that you feel called to pursue a career as a nurse. You would then be able to enroll in nursing school right away and get your journey started. However, things are not always so simple for every person who realizes that their call is to be a nurse.
The good news is that you do not have to despair of becoming a nurse if your first undergraduate degree was in something unrelated to nursing. There are second degree nursing program options out there for those individuals who want to take their current degree and transition into a career in nursing.
Moreover, such programs tend to be accelerated, meaning that you will not necessarily have to spend another four years working on your undergraduate nursing degree before you can take your licensing exam.
You Do not Always Need a bachelor’s degree
The most popular type of nursing degree is that of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. This is a standard four year degree that will prepare you to take the NCLEX and start your career as a nurse. However, this is not the only option out there for those looking to become a registered nurse (RN).
Some nursing students want to earn their licensing and certification in a quicker manner. It is possible to become an RN after earning a two-year degree instead. An associate degree in nursing (ADN) can allow you to learn all that you need to take the NCLEX and become a fully qualified RN.
However, it is worth noting that if you intend to earn an advanced degree at some point down the line to specialize in a certain area of nursing or to take your career farther, you will first need to have a BSN completed.
Nursing School is Challenging
No matter what type of nursing degree you decide to pursue, you will need to prepare yourself for a challenging academic experience that will test you in many ways. Unfortunately, nursing school, in general, is such a difficult undertaking that a significant number of nursing students decide to go a different path after only their first year in school.
When you are looking to start nursing school, the best thing you can do is prepare yourself as much as possible for the challenges ahead. Understand what you are taking on and take the right steps to prepare mentally and emotionally.
Another smart thing to do when you know that you want to attend nursing school is to take your time to find the right degree program for you. Not all nursing schools are the same, and you should find the one that suits your style of learning the best.
Whether it means attending a traditional four-year university to earn your degree or enrolling in an accelerated online program, or something that offers more on-the-job experience, the right school will help you have the best chances of finding success.
It Helps to Have a Mentor
When you are first getting your nursing career off the ground, you will most likely find yourself feeling a bit overwhelmed. No matter how well you were able to prepare for your career when you were in nursing school, there is something about the responsibility that comes with the job that takes some getting used to.
As you find your feet, though, you might decide to start exploring your options as a nurse. There are a number of routes you can take and specialties that you can choose from. With so many choices, it can be tough to know what path is right for you personally.
One thing that can help you navigate your way to a successful career in nursing is a professional mentor. This is an individual who has accomplished things in their own nursing career that you hope to one day accomplish yourself. They should be someone that you can look up to professionally and feel comfortable talking to about your career.
The guidance and advice of a good mentor can make all the difference in the world when you are first starting your own nursing career.
You Should Consider Coworkers Your Teammates
In a field like nursing, it can be easy to allow competitive feelings to creep into the workplace. Perhaps there is a promotion on the table, and several nurses working in the same unit have their eye on it, or maybe there is some other scenario at play that makes things a bit uncomfortable among the people you work with.
Whatever sort of politics might be at play, it is always best to consider your coworkers to be your teammates. You are going to have to work together daily to deliver essential care to your patients. Therefore, it is far better to start your relationship with your coworkers off on the right foot than to allow politics and disputes to take over.
Take the time, in the beginning, to get to know your coworkers. Let them know that you are there to work hard and to be a team player. This can also help you to avoid some of the standard habits that tend to exist in the hospital setting, such as overloading the new person with more work than is fair.
Be Ready to Learn
Just because you have graduated nursing school and are starting your career as a fully qualified and licensed nurse, which does not mean your days of learning are behind you. On the contrary, anyone who has a successful career as a nurse will tell you that part of the job is to continue to learn long after your graduation date has passed.
The fact of the matter is that a field like healthcare is one that is constantly developing and changing. Not only does healthcare policy see its fair share of changes in a short period, but new innovations in the world of healthcare are being made all the time. Staying apprised of such things is essential if you hope to deliver the best outcomes for your patients.
Even though you will have to complete your continuing education credits to maintain your nursing license, you should take things beyond those requirements when it comes to your pursuit of knowledge. Look for any opportunity to learn a new skill or acquire new knowledge about the field.
One thing that can really help you in this is to join a professional nursing organization. Such organizations are designed to connect nurses working in the same area of medicine from all over the country. In addition, information about the latest innovations and developments in your area of nursing are also available through such organizations.
Lastly, make sure that you are doing all that you can to demonstrate that you have the desire to learn. You might be surprised at how much your coworkers and immediate superiors will be willing and able to teach you when they know that you are determined to acquire as much knowledge and skill as possible.
The road to becoming a successful nurse is a long and challenging one. However, you can give yourself the best chances of success by setting the right tone for yourself right off the bat.
No matter what your academic background may be or what sort of nurse you want to become, you can get your nursing career off to a promising start by making the right connections, learning as much as possible, and preparing yourself to meet the challenges ahead.