Nursing is a challenging yet rewarding career, and there are numerous pathways you may take to achieve your dream nursing goal. There are many different jobs within the profession, and they all require different levels of education, experience, and qualification. You may be at the beginning of your nursing career journey and considering how to go about achieving entering the industry. On the other hand, you may also already be working as a nurse and eager to progress to the next stage of your career. Wherever you are in your nursing journey, it is important to be aware of your options and the requirements of various courses and jobs to be prepared when the time comes. Here are just a couple of things to consider when thinking about becoming a nurse.
What training do you need?
Each level and role within nursing requires specific qualifications and experience, and it is important to make sure you understand what is expected of you for these jobs. In general, the pathway to becoming a nurse begins with a BSN. This is a bachelor’s science in nursing degree, and it will prepare you to undertake your licensing exams to become an RN or Registered Nurse. If you already hold a bachelor’s degree, you may be eligible for a non nursing degree to BSN online course, an accelerated course that prepares you for your licensing exams in 16 months.
Once you have completed your BSN degree and passed the licensing exams for the state you are practicing in, you can begin looking for jobs and working as a Registered Nurse. Many choose to work in general nursing at this stage, as it is a broad role and can give you an insight into the different kinds of nursing and specialisms that you may be interested in. Many RNs then choose to understand an MSN degree, which can prepare them to become a nurse practitioner or work in leadership or education roles. There is also the option to take a DNP and continue advancing your education and career.
What are the different types of nursing careers?
There are many different roles and types of nursing within the nursing industry that you could work in. Therefore, it is important to think about where your skills and passions lie and where you would most enjoy working. Some of the options that you may consider can include:
- Registered Nursing- RNs are nurses that have graduated from a nursing program and passed the relevant licensing exams for their state. RNs provide a range of services, such as emotional support to patients and their loved ones, education to individuals and communities, and other general nursing duties.
- APRNs- these are Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, and they usually hold an MSN or DNP. There are four different APRN specialist areas, Certified Nurse Practitioner, Certified Nurse Midwife, Certified Nurse Specialist, and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist.
- Leadership- if you want to help shape the future of nursing, then working in a leadership position can allow you to achieve this. Nurse leaders help implement change and represent the healthcare organization that they work for and lead the nursing teams. Positions in this area can include Head Nurse, CEO, Chief Nursing Officer, and Patient Care Director.
- Educators- as well as continuing to practice and work in a clinical setting, nurse educators teach the nursing curriculum at universities and colleges. If you have good leadership skills and want to inspire and teach the future generation of nurses, then working as a nurse educator can help you to do this.
What are the skills you will need?
Becoming a nurse takes a combination of technical and personal skills and experience. You will learn the nursing care and medical knowledge that you need to succeed in a nursing career during your extensive training, and you may also have the chance to develop the personal traits that help make a great nurse. These can include:
- Teamwork- nurses often work as part of a larger, multidisciplinary team, and you will need to be able to collaborate with others to reach the best solution for the patient and continually keep their best interests at the forefront of your work. Some nursing roles allow for nurses to practice without the supervision of a physician, but you will still need to be willing and able to work with others, regardless of your role.
- Compassion and Empathy- the former is sympathy combined with the desire to fix whatever is causing the patient distress, and the latter is the ability to put yourself in your patient’s shoes to try and understand their emotions. Both are incredibly important in nursing as they can help you provide a more personal level of care and support.
- Communication– this includes speaking, listening, and observing. Nurses have to have excellent communication skills as they will often be speaking with patients and relatives who will not have the same level of medical understanding as them, and they need to make sure that the patient or relative understands everything clearly and can translate medical jargon that other medical staff might have bombarded them with. Knowing when and how to alter your communications with others is important in ensuring that everyone is on the same page at all times.
- Willingness to learn- nurses and all medical professionals need to be able to learn and constantly adapt, as the medical industry is always developing. Therefore, you will need to be a quick and efficient learner, regardless of how long you have been practicing or your nursing role, to provide the most up-to-date care to your patients.
Whatever pathway you choose to become a nurse, it is a rigorous process that involves a lot of learning and experience. Nurses are highly skilled individuals who perform a range of tasks and have wide-reaching knowledge. If you are passionate about helping and educating others, nursing could be the perfect industry for you, and there is plenty of room for career advancement too.