Perhaps you are already halfway (or even further) through your training to become a nurse or are coming up to your graduation date?
Alternatively, maybe you are just starting to think about switching careers.
Either way, for your information, here are the top fifteen things you have to know if you have decided to become a nurse:
1. There Are 4 Different Branches of Nursing
The world of nursing is multi-faceted and exceedingly complex, with each hospital or medical institution having differing hierarchical structures and different disciplines concentrating on different areas of medicine.
There are essentially four different branches of nursing;
- Children’s Nursing
- Mental Health Nursing
- Adult Nursing
- Learning Disability Nursing
2. A Sense of Humor is Vital!
Another important thing to know before you begin your nursing training, or else start your first professional placement, is that a sense of humor is not only advisory but absolutely essential.
In order to be able to separate what is happening at work from your personal and family life, having an overarching cynical and humorous view (even if slightly on the black humor side) in private and with your trusted fellow nurses is crucial.
3. A Nursing Degree is Valuable on Many Levels
Not only is the successful acquisition of an undergraduate nursing degree mandatory to become a professional, working, and registered nurse, but the work experience and on-site training will be invaluable to you once you qualify.
Usually, reputable and renowned degree programs include around six hundred and fifty hours of clinical time, with your clinicals being an intensive learning curve within your degree.
4. If You Hate Phone Calls: Get Over it Quick!
Part and parcel of the daily working life of a professional nurse, regardless of the field of nursing in which you specialize, is contacting other medical professionals in different departments, usually via the phone.
From central supplies, pharmaceuticals, and case management to social work, nutritionists, and laboratories, calling these various professionals will be instrumental in ensuring that each of your patients receives the care and attention they both need and deserve.
5. Make Sure You Eat Something Before Your Shift Starts
Another important thing to remember as you embark upon a successful career as a nurse is that no two days are ever the same, and it could well be that you simply do not have the time to eat your breakfast, lunch and/or dinner whilst at work.
Even if you are not someone who particularly enjoys eating in the early hours, if your shift begins at five in the morning, you should ensure you eat something on the commute to work or before leaving the house.
6. Colleagues Become Family
As a working nurse, especially a newly qualified one, you will be spending the next few years splitting your time between your professional life and your personal one, with the latter somewhat diminishing into the background if you are not careful.
This is why the supreme importance of forming close bonds and connections with your fellow nurses, both those who also work on the same ward and other medical professionals in different departments in the hospital, as quickly your colleagues will feel much more like family.
7. Ensure Nursing is Your Passion
Due to the long hours, emotionally draining, and often incredibly stressful situations and the general nature of the role, it is absolutely essential that you are 100%t sure that becoming a professional nurse is what you definitely want to do in the long term.
Qualities, personality attributes and skillsets which will be useful in your nursing career include:
- The aforementioned sense of humor
- High levels of empathy
- Strong communication and people skills
- Critical thinking skills
- Flexibility and Versatility
- Natural respect for others
- Physical stamina
- Emotional stamina
8. Your Social Life Will Take a Back Seat
One important point you need to know and understand is that (especially during the first few years of your professional nursing career) your social life, friends, and family members will not get to see you nearly as much as they have done previously.
To ensure you do still have quality time with your friends and family and that your work-to-life balance is indeed as good as it can be, you must endeavor to schedule proper dates as soon as you receive your roster.
Bear in mind, of course, that a nurse’s rota is always subject to change, sometimes even at the last minute.
9. Everyone Will Ask You for Medical Advice
Whilst you were training and going through the modules of your undergraduate nursing degree, you may well have started getting close friends and family members who are genuinely interested in your studies and starting to ask your advice.
Once you qualify from nursing school and become a registered and practicing nurse, however, it then becomes a case of every man and his proverbial dog considering you as their own private doctor.
10. Nursing is Physically Demanding
Nurses work incredibly long hours and particularly intensive shift patterns, and as a result, the physical demand and toll on your muscles, limbs, and the rest of your body is palpable.
Not only does the world of nursing require someone that is mentally strong, but you also need to have a good overall level of physical fitness and be aware of simple body stretching techniques and basic body mechanics.
11. Always Look After Your Own Mental Health
Regardless of whether you have specifically trained in mental health nursing or are else working in a different nursing discipline altogether, you should be fully aware of the basics surrounding the important matter of mental health.
As a nurse, you will be thrown into many different situations, each more emotionally draining and taxing than the next. You should always be actively aware of how your mental health is faring.
For nurses who are struggling with their overall levels of emotional health and wellbeing, there are a number of things and indeed people that can help, including the following:
- Eat as well as you possibly can do
- Prioritize sleeping at night
- Keep in touch with your friends and family (even just by text message)
- Create a daily routine
- Speak to your nursing supervisor or one of your colleagues
- Never suffer in silence
12. Not Every Patient Will be Nice to You!
Even though nurses are amongst the most hardworking and most deserving set of professionals of them all, it is an unfortunate but accurate fact that nurse abuse occurs regularly, although this does largely depend on the area in which you work.
What is more, in high-pressure and intense areas such as the accident and emergency rooms, violence against nurses is also common, so it is important to take all necessary safety precautions and follow the nursing guidelines and protocols to the proverbial letter.
13. Everyone Makes Mistakes: Even Nurses!
Even though you will obviously begin your very first day in your first professional nursing position, intent on doing absolutely everything correctly and not making any mistakes, the truth is that everyone makes mistakes, and you will definitely make at least one or two of your own.
Yes, of course, you need to be extra careful when working in an environment such as a hospital, but when you do make a mistake, it is essential to entirely own it and learn from it.
14. Your Time Management Skills Are Vital
Throughout your nursing undergraduate degree and your nursing school tuition, you will be inundated with valuable and exceedingly useful advice and a wealth of knowledge and experience.
If one skill you learn is more important than any other, it would be your aptitude for managing your time.
For each and every shift, you and you alone will be tasked with a specific number of duties that need to be completed, checked, and often re-done before the end of your shift.
Managing your time correctly and efficiently is simply the only way to ensure that you have enough time to get everything done and complete everything to a high standard.
15. Nursing Does Not Just Center Around Medical Care
Finally and perhaps most importantly of all, the last thing you absolutely have to know when you become a fully qualified, professional, and registered working nurse is that the role of a nurse is certainly not limited to just looking after people in a medical context.
Often the nurse or nurses on shift within any ward will also need to fix random issues with equipment and technology, act as a housekeeper and cleaner, rewire and replace lights and lighting appliances and mediate between doctors and families.
Furthermore, if you have a patient on your ward for a long time, you will often fill the role of advisor, confidant and even friend.