Nursing is an excellent career option for anyone looking to work within the world of healthcare. Not only does a career as a nurse generally provide a comfortable salary with additional earning potential as your career progresses, but with a consistently high demand for nurses, there is a great deal of job security associated with the job as well. This is particularly true if you go on to earn advanced degrees and specialize in a particular area of nursing.
However, it is important to note that, like any job worth having, the road to becoming a nurse can be a tough one. Nursing school presents its fair share of considerable challenges, and the process of gaining experience and additional degrees can be a long one. With that in mind, though, there are certain things that you can do in order to cut a clear path for yourself to a successful career in nursing.
Anyone looking to enter the field of nursing will certainly need to have a number of qualifications and skills. Those looking to take their job as far as it can go and build a successful career in nursing should consider working towards these four things.
First and foremost, if you wish to become a nurse, you will need to acquire the right level of education. This isn’t always as black and white as saying you wish to earn a nursing degree, though. There are, in fact, a variety of degrees and qualifications that you can choose from that will allow you to become a nurse. The one you choose will likely depend on your personal circumstances, how much education you already have, and how quickly you would like to earn your qualifications.
The most popular degree program for nurses today is that of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. With this qualification, you can take the NCLEX-RN exam and practice as a registered nurse (RN) upon certification. However, those who wish to go with a more expedited, albeit less comprehensive track can opt for a two-year Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN).
While both options will allow you to work as an RN, anyone looking to explore advanced degree programs down the line will need to hold a BSN. For instance, if you aspire to become a nurse practitioner (NP), you will need to earn your Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. One is only qualified to do so if they first have earned their BSN.
Master’s degrees and doctorate degrees are an excellent way to advance your nursing career and take on more responsibility in the world of nursing. If you hope to have a greater voice in healthcare as a nurse, this is certainly something to consider. Going back to school for a graduate degree is arguably easier now than it has ever been. With the popularization and efficiency of things like online DNP programs, you can build a successful career in nursing for yourself.
Although nursing school is a challenging and necessary piece of the puzzle, a nursing degree is far from the only thing that you will need if you hope to build a successful career for yourself as a nurse. The fact of the matter is that there are only so many things that you can learn in the classroom. You will be prepared through the right nursing program to assume the responsibility of a nurse; however, the job’s challenges are things that simply cannot be simulated for the classroom.
This is why it is so important for any nurse looking to take their career farther to gain the right experience. Take any opportunity that you are given to act in positions of responsibility and work on your direct patient care skills. Most importantly, understand that in the process of obtaining experience you will be faced with things that you are unsure about. It is important in such moments to seek help and guidance from those who have been there before. Know who you can count on in such moments to give you the guidance that you need.
3. A Mentor
Mentorships are some of the most valuable tools available to those within the healthcare community, including nurses. As previously stated, there are going to be things within your line of work that you are unprepared for and unsure about. In such instances, it is helpful to have a mentor who can help advise you and point you in the right direction.
Any nurse hoping to take on roles of responsibility or a certain specialization should absolutely look for a mentor. This person should be someone who is in the place that you hope to be in one day yourself. By learning from their journey and professional experiences, you can understand more about what it is you are working towards. Their successes and failures along the way can help inform the decisions that you make in regard to your own career path.
4. Specific Skills
Aside from the practical things that you need to be a successful nurse, there are also some defining qualities and skills that all successful nurses possess. Some of these, like communication and problem-solving skills, are attributes that you will develop and hone throughout nursing school and in your day to day job. However, others are of a more intangible nature and it might take some time and effort to acquire them.
For instance, all nurses need to possess a high degree of empathy. Without this quality, it can be challenging to administer the care that a patient needs with the kindness and patience that they require. This is an interesting skill that can actually be lost over time. Many nurses who work for years on end find themselves jaded and a bit desensitized to the work at hand. It is crucial, though, that you continue to look from the perspective that while a particular day at the hospital might just be one of countless similar days, it might very well be your patient’s first time in that setting. Empathy is necessary if you wish to administer the best possible care.