If you’re interested in nursing as a career, there’s a lot you need to know. The process can involve a lot of work, from gaining your degree to securing a job in nursing, learning what you want to specialize in and how to progress. Don’t be deterred. It’s a great career choice. Here’s what you need to know.
Taking the first step
If you’ve just started a career in nursing and already have an MA in nursing with a 3.0 GPA and your R.N. license, you could sign up for a Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP). This may not take as long as you think to complete. You’re building on your current qualifications and experience. You could even study for your qualification online to minimize the disruption to your work and family commitments.
Alternatively, if you don’t yet have your Nursing MA, you could find a university that offers the course. After graduating, you might decide to stick with a career in nursing at the level you’re at or take your DNP to improve your chances of progressing.
Most students struggle at some point during their qualification, even if this isn’t their first degree. So, it’s essential to find out what support is on offer before signing up. Universities will often have an admissions counselor and a support team to help you when you’re on the course if you run into difficulties. They understand the challenges students can face and are there to help. The university will want as many of their students as possible to complete and gain their qualifications, so they are there to help you do that.
What does a degree involve?
Whichever degree you take for your route to a nursing career, you will need commitment. Online learning allows some flexibility, but it’s crucial to set aside a certain number of hours each week to focus on your studies and to arrange a work placement at a time you can stick to if it is part of your degree requirement.
You’ve likely studied and gained other qualifications before, even if these aren’t related to nursing. So, you will know the best learning techniques for yourself and how you study best. If you need peace and quiet, be prepared to compromise with family to ensure you get this. You will need a place to study where nobody needs to be during that time. A desk with a drawer is ideal, so you can store your books and coursework to make them easier to find and minimize the time you spend gathering them together before a study session.
This planning, commitment, and motivation can help you after gaining your qualifications. They are skills that can be transferred to your role in nursing to help you progress.
Developing your nursing career
When you’re working in nursing, it’s different from other 9-5 jobs. It’s unlikely to be 9-5, so having the flexibility to work varied shifts is essential. If you apply for a role and can’t do this, it’s unlikely you’ll be chosen. If you’re already in the position and are unavailable for certain shifts, you probably won’t be top of the list when training and promotion opportunities arise.
Another thing you need to do is show initiative. You won’t always be told what to do. If you see a patient in need of help, or another healthcare professional struggling, using your initiative to help will show you’re capable of thinking on your feet.
Alternatively, knowing when something is beyond your skillset and asking for help is just as important. If you’re regularly faced with specific circumstances where you ask the same person or people for help, it could highlight the need for training in your current role. This training could then lead you to other opportunities where you can excel in nursing. So, don’t be afraid to ask.
What else can you do to excel?
Fulfilling all the duties of your role should be seen as the minimum requirement for any nursing job. Exceeding this when your knowledge and skillset allows can set you apart. Even if you don’t want to climb the career ladder, it can help you become a valued and trusted team member.
This could include:
- Staying ten minutes after your shift officially finishes to complete a task, rather than leaving it to someone else to finish what you started.
- Taking time to listen to patients and respond to and empathize with their concerns.
- Asking for further training opportunities if these can help you in your current role.
Nursing takes a lot of work, from gaining your qualifications to starting your first employment, making a good impression, and finding ways to stand out and be selected for further opportunities. So, it’s important to remember your reasons for choosing the career to help people and make a difference. If you excel in nursing, that’s precisely what you’ll be doing.