Becoming a nurse is a career that appeals to many people. This isn’t surprising – it’s a job that enables you to dedicate yourself to helping others, making a meaningful difference to not only your patients but also their loved ones and the wider community. Plus, with the increasing availability of online nursing degrees such as the accelerated bachelor of science in nursing (ABSN), it’s a field that’s becoming more accessible too.
So, how do you know if a career as a nurse is the right option for you? There are many different factors that will affect how well the job suits you, and in this post we’ll try and cover as many of them as possible to help you answer the question. That way you can make an informed decision as to whether or not you wish to enroll on that nursing degree!
What does a nurse do?
It’s a bit tricky to define exactly what a nurse does, because it’s actually an umbrella term that covers many different job roles. Most nurses generally work as part of a wider healthcare team, alongside doctors, surgeons, other nurses, technicians, and many more medical specialists. Nurses are employed in a huge variety of healthcare settings including hospitals, schools, community centers, mental health clinics, physician’s offices and so on.
Likewise, they can work with a broad range of patients of all ages and who have all sorts of different health conditions. You could even become a travel nurse, a military nurse, or any number of other specialist roles. This makes the position a very varied and interesting one.
The precise duties and responsibilities that you have will therefore differ according to the exact job role you are employed in. For example, you could choose to specialize in treating a certain patient population (for example children), a specific healthcare condition (for example cancer), or in a certain medical setting (for example an emergency room).
As a general overview, however, you can expect to be responsible for tasks such as taking medical histories, running diagnostic tests, taking blood, dressing wounds, maintaining medical records, conducting physical examinations, administering vaccinations and other medications, educating patients about healthy living and disease management or prevention, as well as providing emotional support.
What skills do I need to be a good nurse?
There are many different skills required in order to be an excellent nurse. For example, nursing can be a fast-paced and hectic job, meaning that you’ll need strong multitasking, organization and time management abilities in order to successfully manage your caseload. Linked with this is the physical stamina and endurance to work long hours on your feet, as well as potentially weekends, holidays and night shifts depending on your precise role.
You will be dealing with a lot of different patients from all sorts of backgrounds, therefore, having excellent communication skills is also vital. You might have to explain complicated medical procedures or conditions to people who have no prior knowledge of the subject, or who are very young or elderly. The job also involves working with many different healthcare professionals, so good teamwork skills are a must to enable you to work effectively with your colleagues.
Another critical ability to have is attention to detail. You will likely find yourself working with detailed medical notes, complex symptoms, and very precise dosages of medication, where mistakes can have potentially fatal consequences. Nurses must be able to follow instructions from doctors, surgeons and other medical professionals, as well as check details such as serial numbers of prescription drugs carefully.
What characteristics make someone a great nurse?
In addition to the specialist knowledge and clinical skills you gain when doing online accelerated BSN nursing programs, there are a number of personality traits that can make you particularly well suited to a career in nursing. You’re sure to have many of these naturally, but your course will be the perfect place to work on them even more.
Firstly, you must be a kind, compassionate and empathetic person who cares deeply for the patients in their care. Being able to understand what other people are going through will help you to treat them more effectively, and in turn, result in higher levels of trust between you and those you’re looking after. Likewise, it’s crucial to always be professional and exhibit integrity and respect – after all, as a nurse, you are something of a role model!
Another important factor to bear in mind is that the job of a nurse is not always easy. Sometimes you will be faced with upsetting or difficult situations, and therefore it’s critical that you have the mental tenacity to cope with such circumstances. Setting clear boundaries between your work life and home life will help with this, and protect your own mental health and wellbeing.
Similarly, you need to be adaptable enough to deal with unexpected problems or emergency situations that will inevitably arise. Don’t only think of this as a negative thought, because it means that each day is different and the work is never boring.
Finally, as a nurse, you should strive to always have an upbeat and optimistic attitude when dealing with your patients. Sometimes this will require some patience, as you may have to work with people who are stressed out or scared. This can be especially true when dealing with young children, elderly patients struggling with issues such as dementia, or psychiatric patients.
However, an enthusiastic and positive demeanor will go a long way towards making your job more enjoyable, and also making potentially challenging situations a little bit easier for those in your care.
If reading this article has convinced you that a career in nursing is the right path for you, it’s time to start researching nursing programs. Getting some relevant volunteering experience can be a big help in securing a place, so you might want to look into that, too.
Don’t forget to research funding options – these often have earlier deadlines than the degrees themselves, and you don’t want to miss out. Remember to let your passion for helping others shine through on your application and you’re sure to do well. Good luck!