So You Want to be a Nurse? Here’s What You Need to Know!

There are a lot of factors that might have attracted you to a career in nursing. Perhaps you’re driven by an altruistic desire to help other people. Maybe you have an interest in medicine and healthcare. Perhaps you’re looking for a role that offers good levels of job security and employability. It could be all three!

Whatever your reasons are for wanting to become a nurse, this article is here to help you achieve your goal. It goes into more detail about the specifics of the role, what skills you’ll need to excel in the field, and some tips for what to do next.

So You Want to be a Nurse

Let’s get started!

The role of a nurse

Most people have a general idea of what being a nurse involves from movies and TV shows, but in all likelihood, it’s a more diverse and interesting role than you realize. The specific tasks you’re responsible for will vary depending on exactly where you work and the specific type of patients who are in your care.

Still, you can anticipate your duties, including at least some of the following:

  • Taking medical histories
  • Talking to patients about their symptoms
  • Conducting health screenings
  • Running diagnostic tests
  • Updating medical records and handling other admin tasks
  • Educating people on health issues around lifestyle and disease prevention
  • Taking blood
  • Collecting lab work
  • Prepping patients for surgeries
  • Assisting other medical professionals with certain procedures
  • Dressing minor wounds
  • Monitoring patients’ progress and vital signs
  • Offering emotional support to patients and their loved ones
  • Administering some medications and other types of treatment

You could find yourself working in locations as varied as hospitals, care homes, prisons, schools, specialist treatment centers, and private clinics. Alternatively, you could choose to be employed with the armed forces or a nonprofit organization.

Also Read: 15 Types Of Nursing Career Paths & Salaries

Skills and traits needed to excel in nursing

Now that you know what being a nurse involves, it’s time to look at the talents and characteristics you’ll need to have to succeed. This is in addition to the medical knowledge and clinical skills that you’ll learn during your studies. Some of the most important are:

  • Compassion and empathy – to ensure you always do the best for your patients
  • Adaptability – to deal with emergencies and other unexpected problems
  • Attention to detail – for working with complicated medical notes, subtle and complex symptoms, and precise dosages of medication
  • Patience – to help you deal with difficult people, young children, and seniors
  • Organization and time management – to juggle a heavy caseload and multitude of admin work
  • Physical fitness – to help you cope with long shifts on your feet
  • Emotional resilience – to help you cope with stressful and upsetting situations
  • Interpersonal skills – for working with patients from all walks of life
  • Teamwork – for working with other medical professionals
  • Professionalism and integrity – to inspire trust and act as a role model in the community

This is not an exhaustive list, but don’t let it intimidate you – all of these traits and skills can be developed during your studies and placements if you work hard!

How to become a nurse?

There are actually a few different pathways available if you want to train as a nurse, but the best option is to begin by getting an accredited degree in nursing. There are four main types of nursing program open to you:

  • Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
  • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
  • Doctoral degrees in nursing (DNP, Ph.D.)

The right choice for you will depend on factors such as your previous qualifications and ultimate career goals. However, most employers prefer you to have at least a BSN, and an MSN is a good way to give yourself an edge. 

Whichever program you pick, you’ll be required to complete a series of academic modules in relevant topics and also undertake clinical placements in real-world healthcare settings. The latter enables you to put what you’ve learned into practice under the supervision of experienced medical professionals.

It’s a great opportunity to get valuable personalized feedback and take your skills to the next level.

When it comes to studying modes, you can attend a traditional course on campus, or if you want more flexibility, you might like to consider distance learning. The University of Indianapolis online nursing programs enable you to get a top-level education from the comfort of your own home and complete your clinical placements conveniently near where you live.

Once you’ve graduated, you will need to become licensed to be eligible for nursing jobs. To do this you have to pass the NCLEX-RN exam, which is administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). After that, you can apply for your license.

This is done at the state level, and there may be additional criteria you need to meet depending on where you wish to work.

Remember that in the healthcare world, your learning never stops! It’s vital that you engage in continued professional development throughout your career in order to keep your knowledge fresh and your skills sharp.

Your employer will assist you with this, but it could involve attending conferences and workshops, studying for specialist certifications in a niche area of nursing that interests you, as well as simply reading industry books and magazines. This is particularly important if you have ambitions of a high-flying future career.

Also Read: 6 Important Evidence Pieces in Birth Injury Cases

The next steps

Now that you know the route to becoming a nurse let’s turn to what you should do next! The first step is researching degree programs. Consider which level of qualification you’d prefer to study for, and start looking at curriculums to see which colleges you’re most interested in. Then you can begin applying.

This usually involves submitting an application form along with evidence of your previous qualifications, your resume, and details of two or three academic or professional references.

Most colleges also ask for a personal essay on why you want to become a nurse – take your time with this, as it’s arguably the most important part of your application. You need to show that you’re both passionate about the subject and talented enough to complete the program with flying colors.

Some institutions may ask you to attend an interview, too, so don’t forget to practice your answers if that’s a possibility for your program. Good luck!

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