What Should You Know Before Becoming a Nurse?
When considering a career option, most people tend to choose something that’s easy, less time-consuming, and well-paid with a lot of benefits. Nursing isn’t one of them. Nursing is one of the most underrated and underappreciated professions in the world even though they are the ones who see the worst things that go on in a hospital. They are known to be a special breed of people who dedicate their lives to serving and caring for others. And even though the profession is under-appreciated, good quality nurses are still very much in demand.
Besides all the negativity connected to this profession, nurses are the most trusted and essential part of the healthcare industry. Doctors may diagnose problems and provide treatments to be done, but it is the nurses’ duty to implement those treatments and improve patients’ quality of life. They are given the responsibility of caring for dozens of patients per nurse, experience and witness life and death, and may also have to make life-changing decisions in a split second, all in one day. That’s the harsh reality of being a nurse. Below are some facts that you should consider before applying to be a nurse.
- Select Your Field Wisely
The nursing profession has a variety of fields you can specialize in once you become a registered nurse. You can start off with being a general nurse if you are confused about which field you should select. You can later choose whichever field you find most comfortable and interesting, such as:
- Operating Room Nurse
- Emergency Room Nurse
- Pediatric Nurse
- Maternity Nurse
- Neonatal Nurse
- Psychiatric Nurse
These are just a few of the fields mentioned. There are many more departments that you can opt to work in.
Also, you need to remember that nurses do not only work in hospitals. They are also seen working as a school nurse, in prisons, offices, armed forces, government agencies, or in private clinics. So it is up to you to decide where you fit in.
Choosing the best nursing school is so important as it will give you an idea of what’s to be expected and how to deal with the realities of life. However, learning it and experiencing it are completely two different things. If you’re looking for an affordable but good school that isn’t far, search through Nursing Schools Near Me. Choose a degree that is right for you, and a specialty that you know you’ll be good at; otherwise, being stuck in the wrong field will stress you out. Also, find out ways to fund yourself by searching through financial aids and scholarships offered by various institutions.
Nurses may have the heaviest work schedule at most hospitals where they are expected to come in 3 days a week and work for 12 hours. That is excluding the time they need to transfer their report on patients to another nurse and vice versa, which usually takes up about 15 hours per week. Moreover, you need to prepare yourself to regularly receive calls in the morning to cover another nurse’s shift and you’ll have to do so because you have asked them to do the same for you yesterday.
While most nurses, especially hospital-based RNs work a 12-hour shift, certain nursing specialties require different work schedules. Nurses who work in a doctor’s office typically have a 40-hour week from Monday to Friday. Travel nursing is another type of nursing job that comprises 40-hour workweeks. You are given the flexibility to work either five 8-hour, four 10-hour, or three 12-hour shifts, although hours and days vary by facility and the hiring agency. The average travel nurse salary hourly pay is $56.49 so you can choose the schedule and the work shifts depending on your desired monthly income.
- Expect the Unexpected
Being a nurse does not only mean providing medical care. It means that you have to be your patient’s advocate, housekeeper, waitress, and mediator between doctors and families. You may think that illness will bring a family together, but be prepared to witness the opposite. There will be siblings fighting over their parents’ treatment, or divorced parents wanting different visiting hours for their child.
In addition to that, you’ll be surprised to see how many times a day patients will call you for little things. One minute it is to reheat their food, another minute it is to give them the remote. Only when you become a nurse will you be able to see and experience so many different things so always keep your expectations to a minimum when it comes to this profession.
You need to be able to memorize your patients’ names and the medications they take so that whenever the doctor drops by, you’ll be prepared with the data. If memorizing becomes difficult, you need to find a way to keep accurate and extensive notes. It is essential that you keep track of your patients’ medications as any wrong treatment can put you back to square one with an enormous amount of guilt hanging down your back.
- Practice Makes Perfect
When on duty, you may not get the time to practice your nursing skills. Daily tasks, like setting up an IV, will need to be performed over and over again before you acquire expertise. Other such skills include working on catheters, NG tubes, drug calculations, inserting cannula tubes (which can be difficult and has to be done carefully), and any other skills that your nursing school may teach you. Learning has no boundaries; the more you know and practice, the better your skills and abilities. That’s why it’s advisable to take advantage of all learning opportunities such as online courses which allow you to earn and renew your PALS certification.
- Time Management
While you will have a routine, expect interruptions or distractions from tasks that require your immediate attention. Therefore, it is essential to learn to cope and finish up your tasks before your shift ends. Otherwise, you’ll end up working overtime. Learn to manage time early on so it becomes easier for you to transition into the world of nursing.
- Mistakes Happen
As a beginner, mistakes can and will happen. Make sure to learn from them and ensure they do not happen again. You’ll probably feel guilty and worry until you’re absolutely positive the patient will be okay. Medication errors are the most common mistakes beginner nurses usually make and also the most difficult thing to cope with. Unless the error is minor, it will continuously haunt you until the patient is deemed healthy. And yes, you’ll probably also cry about it later on.
- Be Prepared
Even though you should prepare yourself, you can never really prepare to encounter death. You will be taking care of a patient one day and then witnessing their passing the next. This will hit you hard but not as much as when the family cries and shares stories about their child or a grandmother or a parent. Every death will affect you differently. This is something you can never get used to no matter how professional of a nurse you become.
There are many other things you’ll get to learn once you become a nurse, so use your time and soak up all the knowledge that you can get when you’re in nursing school. Moreover, you need to be physically fit in order for you to make it to an emergency in time. Invest in the best running shoes you can find as they’ll be your best friend when you become a nurse.
Nursing isn’t easy and requires a lot of patience, especially when dealing with patients from all walks of life. Each one will treat you differently but you need to maintain your integrity and focus on improving the quality of life for them. At the end of the day, you’ll probably cry the entire way home, but you need to leave it all behind when you come back to work the next day.
Your nursing career depends on your reactions to extremely difficult situations. So make sure this is what you really want to do before applying to be a nurse.
For more articles, visit OD Blog.