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What You Should Know When Starting a Career in Nursing

by Gloria Louden
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A career in nursing can allow you to start something new – something just for you. It can also give you the opportunity to study and progress for something that is personal to you; perhaps something thought-provoking or even memorable. When it comes to starting a nursing career, there are lots of things you must know. The easier you can make the process on yourself, the more success you will likely achieve. Taking time out to ask questions and research information will help you make the best decisions moving forwards.

You Can Only Give So Much

When you first look at a nursing career, you see skies full of opportunities and you see recognition at every door you try to open. However, to gain recognition in nursing and to seize opportunities, you must remember that you can only give or do so much. Trying to bend over backwards and please everyone is not going to be beneficial to you, your family or your career. Start setting boundaries and limits early on in your career, to ensure that you do not expect too much in return!

Establishing a Timeline

Once you have decided to start a career in nursing, you then have to start establishing a timeline. There will be lots of people wanting the same roles or positions as you, and you need to always make it clear what your intentions are. A timeline will cover you for at least the next couple of years.

When it comes to creating a timeline, you need to be realistic. If you are not realistic about the times you are setting yourself, then you will be stressed and overwhelmed – and this is not how you want to start your career. When you are creating a new career timeline, you need to be kind to yourself, and be on the generous side – do not try and cram too much into the weeks and months.

Looking at a Specialism

Now that you want to become a nurse, have you thought about what area or specialism you wish to work in? For example, do you want to work in pediatrics, or would you prefer to be an accident and emergency nurse that works across several areas? What do you visualize your career will look like and have you thought about the ages of the patients that you will be dealing with?

When it comes to investigating a specialism, it is important to seek as much information as possible. See the area in practice and speak to those who work within this specialism to make sure that it is right for you and your career.

Studying Online Will Be Advantageous

To become a registered nurse, you must focus on your studies. You cannot begin to practice as a nurse unless you have a relevant degree. If you already hold a degree in a non-related subject, then you may wish to look at completing one of the accelerated BSN programs on offer, because these will give you the core knowledge and understanding of what it takes to become a nurse as well as fulfill the needs and requirements of the role.

Self-doubt is Real and Consuming

If nursing is going to be your second career, or if you are entering the industry after stints doing other kinds of work, you may find that your confidence levels are not as high as they should be. Self-doubt can affect you when you start as a nurse, and you can find that it can hold you back. Learning to build yourself up and learning to create the best version of yourself is important because this will yield the best results.

The Skills and Qualities You Need to Possess

As you embark on your nursing career, you may be wondering what a great nurse looks like. It is important to model yourself and your behavior on other exemplary nurses to ensure that high standards are met. So, to meet these standards, what qualities and skills must you possess:

1. Empathy – Being able to empathize with a patient, or with a situation is important. You need to be able to feel (and think) as a patient, to give patients the best level of service and care that they deserve.

2. Great Communication Skills – As a nurse, you must be able to communicate both clearly and effectively at all levels. If you are not communicating (or listening) as well as you could be, then you will find that this will affect the relationships that you hold with work colleagues, as well as the interactions you have with patients and their families.

3. Attentive – Nursing professionals have to be attentive to detail, and they have to be attentive under all types of situations and pressures. If attention is not paid to a patient, or to a situation then it may affect the outcome for the patient.

Work Experience is Invaluable

Even when you are starting your career as a nurse, you will find that work experience does prove invaluable. Without work experience, you will find that you lack the confidence to use (and put into practice) your new knowledge and awareness. Work experience can help you see what areas of specialism may or may not be right for you. It can also help you grow as a person and as a professional.

Co-workers and Structure Is Important

You will see that the structure of a medical facility often dictates the success of the facility in question. Even though you may feel like you can do everything by yourself with your career, you should remember that your co-workers and the structure that they offer is crucial to your career.

When you get to know those that you are working with and around, you get the chance to build bonds that will last. These bonds are essential in those early months and weeks of nursing, and they will help you to feel confident and assertive about what you are doing and why.

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