As this guest post explains, there are few professions that are as noble as nursing. Nurses play an incredibly important role in healthcare, as they provide support to doctors, patients, and the families, which means that they help to save lives as well as provide emotional support for people who are suffering. Nursing can be a wonderful profession to work in, because it gives you the chance to make such a difference to people’s lives, but it can also be extremely challenging and competitive. Nursing is not a profession for everyone, but for those who enjoy it, it is much more than just a job. Here are a few pieces of advice for anyone that is thinking about becoming a nurse.
Work on Your Communication Skills
In order to succeed in the nursing field, you will need to have excellent communication skills. This is so that you will be able to communicate and work efficiently alongside doctors but also so that you can take care of and provide support to your patients and their family. Listening is a vital part of this but an area that many people overlook. Improving your communication skills can have a positive impact on your nursing career in many ways and should also help you succeed.
One of the best things that you can do if you want to become a nurse is get as much experience as possible beforehand. No amount of reading and studying can prepare you for life on the ward, so it can be helpful if you are able to get any kind of experience that will allow you to develop your skills but also see if this is the right job for you. You could work as a certified nursing assistant or even see if there are departments in your local hospital that take volunteers.
Find an Area That Interests You
Nursing is a very broad field with many different areas to work in. This means that you need to find an area that interests you and in which you will be able to work confidently, whether this is working in A&E or in forensic nursing if you do not feel that working a hospital is right for you.
Speak to Nurses
Following this, it is also a good idea to speak to any nurses that you can so that you can ask questions and learn about the side of nursing that you do not see in textbooks. Additionally, it is always helpful to grow your network when it comes to this profession, as this could help you find a job further down the line.
Find A Mentor
Having a mentor can be invaluable as a young nurse, because this will be someone that can provide career guidance as well as support. Nursing can be a challenging and upsetting area to work in, and you will have to deal with difficult situations each and every day, which can take its toll. An experienced nurse that has seen it all will be able to help you in these situations, which should help you manage on those difficult days.
Do Not Be Afraid of Asking Questions
There is no such thing as a stupid question, especially when it comes to nursing. Do not shy away from asking questions. No one will expect you to know everything, so always ask if you have a question. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
While it is a good idea to ask questions when you do not know something, you also need to make sure that you are confident and assertive. This will give your patients confidence in your abilities, and it will also show to doctors and other healthcare professionals that you are assertive and capable. Some doctors can give nurses a difficult time, but having an assertive attitude should stop this from becoming a problem.
Think Before You Answer
In a similar vein, you should always think before you answer a question as a nurse, whether this was asked by a patient, doctor, or family member. You need to choose your words carefully in this profession and be honest with everyone.
Develop Thick Skin & a Strong Stomach
Nurses need to be able to form important, emotional connections with their patients and their families but must also have thick skin and a strong stomach. You are likely to be shouted at on a regular basis and see many unpleasant things each day, and you must be able to take these in your stride and not let it affect your work. This ability can take some time to develop, but it will be vital for succeeding and being able to switch off at the end of a shift.
Be Calm in Difficult Times
You are going to see all kinds of things and deal with highly stressful situations when you are a nurse. It is important that you are able to remain calm in these moments so that you can make intelligent decisions and act swiftly. Again, this is something that you will develop over time, but you should try to stay calm, breathe, and be present when the going gets tough so that you can rationalize your next actions.
Go the Extra Mile
Nurses tend to be compassionate people, which means that they will always go the extra mile for their patients. This needs to be something that you are happy to do, whether it means you have to sit with them after your shift ends, spend time with family members, or help them with their food. It is helpful if you are able to put yourself in their shoes and think about how you would want to be treated by your nurse.
Stay Current with Industry News
Nursing is an industry that is constantly shifting and changing, so you need to make sure that you stay current. There are always new practices, trends, and technologies, and being aware of what these are will help you provide the best level of care to your patients and stay ahead of the curve. You can stay current by attending industry events, reading journals, and joining online communities.
Be Organized & Punctual
A good nurse will also be highly organized and never late. Staying organized will help you use your time effectively, allow you to provide the best care for your patients, and reduce stress. Being punctual will also mean that you do not keep people waiting and are not a burden to your co-workers, who may have to pick up the slack if you keep on arriving late.
Get in Good Physical Shape
It is, of course, important to have the skills and knowledge necessary for nursing, but you also need to realize that this is an incredibly physically demanding role too. You will be on your feet all day and working long shifts, plus you will have to help with moving patients, transporting equipment, and much more. This means that you need to be in good physical shape and will need to find time to exercise in your free time – this can be challenging, but it is important for your physical and mental wellbeing.
Look After Your Mental Health
Leading on from this, you also need to make sure that you look after your mental health as a nurse, because this can be an area where people struggle due to the nature of the work and how demanding it can be. This means that you need to be able to find ways to relax and enjoy yourself in your free time and make time for yourself to socialize with friends. It can also be helpful to have someone that you can speak to and vent about your career with so that you can get anything that is troubling you off your chest. Additionally, if you do find that you start to struggle with your mental health, then you need to find a mental health professional to speak to who will be able to help.
Have A Healthy Diet
It can be hard to maintain a good diet when you are a nurse, because you are usually so busy and do not get much time to yourself. A healthy diet is important for keeping fit and active, and it is also important in making sure your brain is functioning at the highest level. It is a smart idea to make your own healthy pack lunches to make sure that you stay hydrated and are eating well when you are not working. Many nurses find that cooking large batch meals and freezing them can be helpful and time-saving.
Know How to Be Part of a Team
Good healthcare is all about collaboration and working together as a team. You must know how to work as part of a team and take on different roles, whether you are leading, providing direct care, or simply chipping in. You also need to be friendly, approachable, and cooperative with your fellow nurses and other healthcare professionals. There is an “all in it together” feel when it comes to healthcare, which can be helpful and keep your spirits up on difficult days.
If you want to be the best nurse that you can be, then you should look for opportunities to carry on studying and earn extra qualifications, as this will allow you to provide the best level of care as well as qualify you for more senior positions. You can find post MSN FNP online programs that allow you to study online in your own time, which can make it easier to juggle your work, free time and study.
Plan Your Free Time
It is important that you know how to use your free time so that you can look after your wellbeing and be happy. You should plan your time, whether this is spending time with family, enjoying hobbies, exercising, socializing, or simply catching up on sleep.
Switch Off Outside of Work
Leading on from this, you also need to make sure that you can switch off once your shift ends so that you do not take your work home with you. This can be challenging due to the nature of your work, but you can switch off by getting changed when you get home, not talking about work when you’ve left the hospital, and doing things for yourself. This is another aspect of nursing that gets easier with experience, but you need to try and make the effort from the start.
Learn from Your Mistakes
People do make mistakes, but you need to make sure that you learn from these, because they can be costly in a profession where you are dealing with life and death. Admit any mistakes that you have made, and find ways to make sure that they do not happen again.
You can often prevent making any mistakes simply by double-checking every action. There are five rights when it comes to nursing; right medication, right patient, right time, right dose, and right route. Always remember this, and do a double-check. This should help you to avoid mistakes and be the best nurse that you can be.
Set Yourself Goals
Much like in any career, it is always helpful to set yourself career goals so that you can stay motivated and are always moving forward. Nursing can be a highly competitive field, so you will need to stand out from the crowd if you are to advance and succeed. Set yourself regular career goals in the short and long term that are achieve but will also challenge you. You then need to celebrate these goals when you accomplish them.
Hopefully, these tips will help any aspiring nurse to succeed and get the most out of their career. Nursing is an incredibly noble profession with good job satisfaction, but it can also be tiring, challenging, and upsetting at times. You will learn a lot in your first few years as a nurse, but the above information should help you to hit the ground running.