Working as a nurse can be a very rewarding career; however, it doesn’t come without its challenges. A lot of people might find that they thrive in high-pressure environments and are seeking a career that will push them in this way, but others might find it hard to handle the stress. This is why it is important to carefully consider whether or not nursing could be the right career path for you, because although it is never too late to change careers, studying to be a nurse is a big commitment that you will need to be dedicated to.
If you have been interested in becoming a nurse for some time, but haven’t yet made up your mind, think about the following key steps to starting this career and see if they can help to offer you some guidance.
Do Thorough Research
A lot of people might be attracted to a nursing role because they like the idea of helping others and it can be a stable job. While compassion and the drive to help others are very important traits that nurses need to have, there is more to the job than this. If you are interested in this career path, you must do thorough research into what you can expect from a job like this. Take the time to read nursing blogs, new articles, and other useful resources that can give you better insight into what you can expect to deal with as a routine part of this job. You may even want to reach out to any nurses you know, or a friend of a friend if possible, and ask them to share their thoughts on their career with you.
Shadowing a Nurse at Work
If your preliminary research hasn’t deterred you from pursuing this career path, the next step you may want to consider is asking to shadow a nurse at work. The reason this can be beneficial to you is that you will see first-hand what you can expect from a daily routine in this role.
You might want to see if you can shadow some nurses in different environments too, such as one in a hospital ward that might be more fast-paced, and another in a GP clinic or a community healthcare center. Seeing these different working environments can be beneficial, as you may end up working in a variety of places during your career as a nurse, so seeing this in practice can help you to envision this more clearly.
Shadowing a nurse can also allow you to ask any questions you might have regarding this role or the chance to receive some tips and advice from professional nurses who have years of expertise.
Finding Work Experience
You will have work placements when you are studying to be a nurse to develop your practical clinical skills, but before you do enroll in a nursing course, you may want to look at some temporary work experience in a clinical setting first. This is another excellent way to see what these working environments can be like, and although you will not be able to work as a nurse, you will be able to communicate with them and other members of the healthcare team. You might want to volunteer your time at a hospital or seek some administrative work if there is any available.
Go to Nursing School
When you are certain that this is the career path you would like to follow, the next step is to enroll in nursing school and start your training. Typically, achieving your nursing degree can take up to four years, including work placements throughout this time. However, if you do want to accelerate your nursing degree, there are other options you can explore. For example, the UIndy online nursing programs include some accelerated courses that can be beneficial for certain candidates. These online learning options can also offer a more flexible approach to your degree, which might be suitable for students with families or other commitments that they need to fit their studies around.
Take Your Licensure Exam
Once you have achieved your bachelor’s degree in nursing or equivalent qualification, the next step is to sit the NCLEX licensure exam to be able to practice legally in your state. All states might have slightly different requirements for this, so do make sure you are taking the time to carry out this research so that you don’t have issues later on. If you do decide to move state at a later stage in life, you may need to take another exam to practice there.
The NCLEX exam will test you on your clinical knowledge, skills, and other key abilities that all entry-level nurses are required to have to be able to provide safe and quality care. You can look on the NCSBN (National Council of State Boards of Nursing) website to find further details, or use other online resources to help you prepare for this exam when you are ready.
Once you have passed your NCLEX exam and are officially a licensed nurse, you can then start looking for employment opportunities. You may find that you have connections from your previous work placements, so do ask for references from your tutors, mentors, and managers from this time. You may also want to ask if there are any vacancies you can apply for in these areas. Contacting a recruitment agency that specializes in healthcare workers could also be a good option to help connect you with suitable vacancies in your local area.
While there will be a demand for nurses in most places, it is worth considering the possibility of relocating for a nursing role, as this could boost your chances of employment by increasing your search area.
The Next Steps in Your Career
After spending a lot of time dedicated to your bachelor’s degree in nursing, you might want to take a break from education for a while and focus on your new role as a professional nurse. However, at some stage, you might want to start thinking about what is next for your nursing career, and the options that are available to you. Not every role will need a higher qualification, but some may ask for candidates to have a master’s degree or doctorate in nursing, particularly for the more senior positions. Again, take the time to do some research and figure out what you will need to move forward into your next nursing role. A lot of these steps could be repeated to accomplish this and to make sure that you are making the right decision for your career.
Choosing a career can be daunting at times, as you want to make sure you will be doing something that you are passionate about and that can keep you satisfied. Nursing can offer many rewards, such as job stability, helping others, career progression, and more, but it isn’t the right path for everyone. Consider these key steps in starting your nursing career, and use the early suggestions to help you determine if this is a job that will keep you happy, even when you’re going through the most challenging times of your career.