Nursing is one of those professions that garners immediate respect. That respect stems from a number of things: the fact you’re helping save or improve lives; the fact you’re working long hours for the public good; and the fact you’re learned in the arts of medicine. It’s truly a career you can be proud of – but there are some downsides with the good. This article aims to prepare you fully for life as a nurse, helping you understand what to expect from your working life, your routine, your challenges in the role and what you’ll have to do to qualify. One thing can certainly be said of nursing: it’s not boring. This article, if nothing else, will show you that.
You’ll Need an Education
Nurses are trained, smart, quick-witted, and caring. As such, you cannot just waltz into a job as a nurse – you have to earn it through diligent study. This ultimately starts at high school and college: if you want to work in the medical profession, you should focus on your science and math as soon as you can in order to get the basic skills you’ll need before you train in your university course.
Studying nursing at university is said to be challenging, hard work, but incredibly rewarding. If you study in a well-regarded nursing institution, you’ll find that you’re getting hands-on experience after the first few weeks of your course. If you decide to study in your own time, there are a variety of part-time and flexible courses that you can study in order to get the all-important qualification that’ll enable you to nurse in the twenty-first century.
It’s Easy to Train While Working
One of the biggest benefits of the digital age is your ability to work or learn remotely. Now, obviously, as a nurse, you’ll be working with a wonderful team in the medical institution of your choosing – but if you’re looking to get qualified and certified, you can actually do this online. You can find colleges for neonatal nurses that’ll help you balance your familial and financial obligations with your desire to become a nurse.
It’s a fast-paced course that does demand a lot of your attention and mental aptitude, but working alongside your nurse’s training will give you a window into the busy and purposeful life that you’ll be leading at the conclusion of your studies. As such, you can see this period as a kind of ‘easing in’ to the routine of nursing – something that you’ll find stimulating and tiring in equal measure.
A Job For Life
With a nurse’s qualification, you know you have a job for life. There’s very little chance of nurses becoming automated and redundant in the years to come, even as the medical industry experiments with robots and AI in complex surgeries and even in diagnoses. As a nurse, you’re the human face of all of this – and there will never be a point in your life when there aren’t well-paying jobs in your area – or around the world, for that matter.
Once you get your qualification, then, and you start working in order to polish off those skills you learned at college or university, you’ll be refining a job role, and a range of responsibilities that you’ll take happily in your stride and that will prepare you for a full and fantastic way of life.
Nonetheless, there are downsides to your life as a nurse – and one of these is the hours you’ll be required to work. Unlike offices and shops, illness and medical emergencies do not respect opening hours or the salience of the night time for sleeping. As such, as you’ll know if you’ve ever rushed into a hospital late at night, there are staff working around the clock to keep patients safe, healthy, and happy.
As you start out as a junior nurse, you can expect to be offered some of the worst shifts. You might have to work nights frequently – sleeping in the hospital on occasion in order to recharge your batteries. You’ll also be required to work some weekends. It’s worth pointing out that this can have a negative effect on your social life – preventing you from seeing friends who do work 9 to 5 – and it can even leave your partner feeling a little hard done by. So it’s a nurse’s responsibility to make sure that work hard and play hard: that their time outside of the hospital is just as nourishing as it would be if you worked a standard 9 to 5 job.
On the other hand, these long hours – and your willingness to cover for others on occasion or muck in with different groups of nurses in times of crisis – will help build some of the strongest and most loving and caring bonds between you and your coworkers. Without such bonds, the job might well be a little too much to handle. It’s the mutual support and understanding that you’ll come to value the most in a job as a nurse.
The bonds you form in the hospital don’t just form between you and other medical staff. They also form between yourself and the patients you tend to on a daily basis. Some patients stay in the hospital for days and even weeks on end, which means you’re able to develop caring and nurturing relationships with them. And, as hospitals welcome some of the most diverse and characterful people into their halls, you’ll never be short of interesting people to chat to as you administer medicine and check-up on your rounds of patients.
Be Prepared for Heartbreak
It’s these bonds with patients that can sometimes sit uneasily with a nurse in the medical world. It’s an unpleasant fact to face that many individuals perish in hospital – and whether you’re a neonatal nurse who witnesses the death of a child recently brought into the world, or a nurse for the elderly who continually sees people pass away from old age and elderly health issues – it hurts. It’s this pain will mean that you bond ever-tighter with your colleagues – the only people who’ll understand.
In any case, it should go without saying that you carefully consider this unpleasant eventuality when becoming a nurse. You need to be comfortable with gore, and you need to find a way to square the death and misery around you with the bright moments when someone heals and leaves the hospital to continue their life. Hospitals are like little microcosms of the world outside – and you’ll need to find a way to process all that you witness in order to perform well in your job.
Progressing Your Career
After you’ve passed through your ‘rookie’ term as a nurse and you’ve properly learned the ropes, you’ll become a more senior person in the team. This can mean a lot more responsibility, but it’s the kind of rewarding and happy responsibility you’ll be ready to receive. Some of the benefits of trying to climb the nurses’ ladder include:
- Having more of a say over your shift times
- Managing newer recruits by showing them the ropes
- Mentoring other nurses to pass on your battle-hardened skills
- Choosing to move into nurse management in order to make your hospital more efficient
Not only will you be able to progress your career as you fill your role with more confidence and experience – but you’ll also feel more at home in the surrounds of a hospital. You’ll know everyone from the doctors through to the cleaning staff. You’ll have your own little routine that you stick to on your days in the office.
Nurses Can Travel
If you weren’t aware of this fact before you decide to train as a nurse, it’s something you should bear in mind as a huge benefit of getting qualified to work in healthcare. As mentioned earlier, nurses are in high demand domestically – but they’re also in demand abroad, too. If you’ve ever dreamt of moving to another country, there can be few easier ways than for applying for a work visa, as a nurse. You’ll be sure to be accepted – and you’ll be able to work your trade in a new country, with new faces around you, without having to worry about finding a job or a place to stay. The hospital will have it covered.
So, whether you choose to jet off to Australia and New Zealand or to somewhere in Europe, you’ll know that you’re heading out on an adventure of a lifetime, and all with the one constant of nursing work to bring you back to earth and to keep you busy. It’s a great way to make friends abroad, too – friends that you’ll have forever.
Instead of jetting off for a holiday, you can also apply your valuable skills to the human rights world health and humanitarian sectors. This is an incredibly noble thing to do, as you won’t get paid and you’ll work in sometimes worryingly poorly sanitized conditions with many at-risk people. You’ll hear of other nurses who’ve done this brave and vital work, and you may decide that it’s something you’d like to try. If so, contact an NGO to arrange a conversation about what you’ll be able to expect when administering your nursing in the field.
Don’t forget that the vocation of nursing itself was borne from Florence Nightingale in the Crimea War, working in squalid and filthy conditions to help save the lives of British military personnel. It’s a profession that has its roots dug deep in helping others in need, and that might just inspire you to go abroad to do just that as part of your career.
General Medical Skills
As a nurse, you’ll, of course, know advanced first aid as well as an array of other skills that help you maintain your professionalism while also helping save lives. You’ll know the correct dosage of scores of medicines, and you’ll know how to tell an irregular heartbeat from a regular one. You’ll know so much more, of course – but the point is, you’ll be able to apply that in all areas of your life.
If you become a parent, you’ll realize just what that means. Being able to help your children medically as they’re growing up – knowing what illnesses to take seriously and which to dismiss – can give you a comfort that other parents don’t have. Also, you’ll be in a profession that demands your vigilance and service should someone fall ill on the street – something that can happen to anyone, anywhere. It’s deeply rewarding and a source of pride that you can rush over to anybody who falls ill, and help them in their time of need – something that can only be said for a minority of people walking this earth. It’s another element of the rewarding life of a nurse.
Whether it’s the fact that you’re helping people live longer and better lives, that you’re performing an essential public good, or that you’re working in a fast-paced and agile team of like-minded, lovely people, you’ll find that working as a nurse is rewarding. Extremely rewarding. Rewarding to the point at which your sore feet and heavy eyelids and lethargic movements after a long night shift drift into the back of your mind as you walk through the halls of a hospital that your work keeps running.
So, whatever negativity you feel you’ve read in this article, you should bear in mind that there’s a very special feeling from being a nurse – something that’s difficult to share in words. It’s a vocation that demands a lot from you, and then dutifully gives you back even more. It’s a profession in which you’ll make life-long friends, and you’ll cast memories that’ll stay with you forever. If you’re still tempted by the profession after reading this article, it’s recommended you jump in – you won’t regret it. These pieces of advice and insights into the life of a nurse are compiled neither to inspire you nor to put you off from a role as a nurse. It’s a challenging, rewarding, tiring and energizing job all rolled into one: so only you can decide whether it’s up your street and whether you should make that first inquiry with your local nurses’ college.