If it’s your dream to become a nurse – or you simply want a change of career – this guide has all the tips you need. Read carefully, as you won’t want to miss a detail.
Around the world, there is estimated to be just under 28 million nurses. These nurses account for around 50% of all healthcare professionals, which shows just how important nurses are to the health of the global population.
Naturally, many women and men want to become nurses (notably, 12% of registered nurses in the US are now men!). There are many reasons why nursing is an exciting career path to take, some of which include:
- You contribute to the wellbeing of people
- You’ll be an expert in your field
- The salary is good
Of course, this is barely scratching the surface, as there are lots more benefits that come with being a nurse. It’s also worth noting that there is a huge spotlight on nursing at the moment due to the recent global pandemic, which has led to nurses being held in much higher regard than they were prior to 2020. Without a doubt, nursing is one of the most respectable career paths that you can now take.
However, you can’t magically become a nurse overnight, as it’s a very serious profession. Instead, you need to take a significant number of steps to get to where you want to be – and this guide is going to help you.
Keep reading for some top tips on how to become a successful nurse.
Decide Where You Want to Study
Since the beginning of 2020, the world of education and study had changed a lot.
Now, many universities are offering remote study courses, whilst open universities have also become incredibly popular with mature adults.
Therefore, you will need to decide where you want to study and on what basis (i.e., full-time or part-time).
For example, if you’re a young person between the ages of 17 and 18, you will likely want to move to another city and experience the student lifestyle – which is completely understandable. Plus, nearly all universities across the country now offer nursing courses, so there’s nothing to worry about in that regard.
However, if you’re an older and more mature adult (who perhaps works part-time or has family commitments), then you likely won’t be able to start a university nursing degree on a full-time basis. Instead, it might be easier and more convenient for you to join an open university and study nursing from home in your free time. This way, you can attend to your other commitments without having to make drastic lifestyle changes.
Whilst studying nursing, you will generally focus on areas such as technology, theory, and support – but all of these topics are capable of being studied from home or remotely. With this in mind, there’s no need to worry about putting yourself at a disadvantage if you study remotely – as this simply won’t be the case.
ADN vs BSN – An Important Choice You Need to Make
To start your career, you need to become a registered nurse (RN). Like most things in life, this is something you will have to study for!
At the start of your nursing journey, you will often need to choose between an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (AND) and a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN). It’s important to note that this is quite possibly the most important decision you will have to make, as the pay and overall career outlook you receive will be dependent on your choice. Learn more about ADN vs. BSN options.
There are other degree choices when it comes to nursing, but these are two of the most common and sought-after ones – which is something to bear in mind.
Think About What Type of Nurse You Want to Be
As you probably know already, there are many different types of nurses that come with varying roles and responsibilities. For example, after becoming a registered nurse, you might want to become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), which is an incredibly popular choice that nurses make to further their careers. APRN nurses are master-level nurses who might provide care on an independent basis or in collaboration with a registered physician. In some circumstances, APRN nurses can even prescribe certain medications – although this is entirely dependent on their license.
Hospitals, Schools, Nursing Homes – Choose What’s Best for You!
One of the best parts about being a nurse is that you have a lot of freedom when it comes to choosing where you work. Some nurses choose to work in nursing homes, whilst others choose to be on the front line in hospitals where they deal with large numbers of patients on a daily basis.
Here are some common locations where you can work:
- Doctor’s offices
- Private healthcare
- Schools and universities
- Outpatient clinics
The choice you make should be based on your personality and career goals.
For example, if you’re someone who really enjoys working with children, then working in a children’s ward at a hospital or being a school nurse would likely be an excellent choice for you.
Or, if you want to work in your local community and build a strong rapport with patients, then perhaps a doctor’s office will appeal to you more.
Generally, it’s a good idea to visit these settings and speak to the nurses in-person to get a genuine feel for what it’s like. Registered nurses can give you further guidance whilst telling you about all the ins and outs you can expect from their particular settings.
Develop your Existing Skills
On your journey to becoming a nurse, it’s highly recommended that you focus on developing your existing skills, such as:
- Critical thinking
Remember, being a nurse is a very rewarding yet demanding job. This means that you need to be at the top of your game all the time – after all, patients are relying on you to take care of them and make them feel relaxed.
By developing the above-mentioned skills, you will give yourself a much better shot at being a successful nurse who can then make positive career progression.
If you enter the world of nursing with a degree but limited real-world skills, then you might struggle. This is why it’s so important to combine the two together.
Get Volunteer Experience
Whilst studying for nursing degrees, many students like to get volunteer experience via hospitals, schools, and other institutions. In some circumstances, universities will set students up on work experience programs, which will typically involve them spending a couple of days a week in a real working location as part of their degrees.
This is great – as being a successful nurse is all about practical application. Once you start to get real experience prior to graduating, it puts you in a stronger position prior to the official start of your career.
Find the Right Employer Once You’re Qualified
After getting your credentials, you’ll be within touching distance of being a full-time nurse. All you will have to do next is find an employer – which is the most important step of them all.
In the modern age, nurses are in high demand due to a national shortage. This is good news for the actual nurses, as it means you have a greater chance of finding an employer you like.
To do this, it’s recommended that you:
- Create a LinkedIn account and connect with healthcare professionals
- Join local healthcare sites to search for openings
- Apply directly to hospitals, schools, and other institutions where nursing demand is high
You will have to go through an interview process, which is where you will need to demonstrate your personality and that you have all the relevant skills required for such a demanding role!
Also, prior to sending out applications, it’s recommended that you modernize your résumé and reference all the experience you have in the field.
Lastly, Be Persistent!
As mentioned earlier, nursing is an excellent career path to take – but it also comes with challenges.
Over the past couple of years, millions of nurses have worked extra hard during the global pandemic. In fact, many beginner nurses were even fast-tracked into their careers due to the demand that was being placed on hospitals all around the world.
So, with that said, it’s incredibly important that you remain persistent. Along the way, there will be some tough moments – especially if another global pandemic or disaster was to happen – but it’s all a part of the job. At the end of the day, it will make you a better professional.
Becoming a nurse is a lot easier than it used to be. Now, pretty much anyone can get an education in nursing and ultimately find the right employer for them.
However, you must follow the tips above if you want to experience a smooth and efficient transition into the world of nursing. Otherwise, you will find it difficult – and will likely get confused along the way!
Make sure you choose the right degree specification and university to study at first, and everything after that should hopefully fall into place for you.