Things to Know Before Becoming a Nurse

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Nursing is a taxing profession, both mentally and physically. From the operating table to the psychiatric ward, nurses are on their feet for long hours, often with little to no break. A nurse can help to bring a child into the world in a minute and then assists in reviving an elderly patient the next. It is a career that requires split-second decision-making, compassion, and a deep well of empathy and understanding.

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However, before you plunge into nursing school, you must prepare yourself for the challenges ahead. Here are some important things you wish you knew before becoming a nurse:

Nursing is Multi-Disciplinary

A nursing degree is not just about learning how to administer medicine and care for wounds. You will also study psychology, sociology, anatomy, and physiology. A good nurse must understand how the human body works, how diseases progress, and how different medications interact.

Nursing schools offer a variety of degree programs, from two-year associate degrees to four-year bachelor’s degrees.

A few popular nursing degree programs include:

  • Registered Nurse (RN)
  • Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
  • Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
  • Nurse Midwife (CNM)
  • Nurse Practitioner (NP)
  • Accelerated BSN
  • RN to BSN

Considering globalization, schools now offer online programs that students can take from the comfort of their homes. From online ABSN programs to MSN programs, there is an online nursing degree for everyone.

Critical Thinking is Key

Nurses constantly make decisions, some of which have life or death consequences. They must be able to think critically and act quickly to save lives.

Nurses must also be able to assess a patient’s condition and make decisions about the best course of treatment. Often, they are the ones who must break the bad news to patients and their families.

It is why critical thinking skills are so crucial for nurses. Several resources can help you develop these skills, such as:

  • The National League for Nursing
  • Sigma Theta Tau International
  • American Nurses Association
  • Nurses for a Healthier Tomorrow

Good Memory is a Must

Nurses must be able to remember a lot of information. They need to know the side effects of common medications, the signs and symptoms of various diseases, and how to administer treatments.

A strong memory is essential for nurses, especially when they are just starting. As you gain experience, you will be able to rely on your clinical judgment and intuition more often. But in the beginning, it is essential to memorize as much information as possible.

You can polish your memory by implementing some conducive studying strategies like flashcards, taking practice quizzes, making mnemonic devices, or simply reading and re-reading your nursing textbooks.

It Takes a Heart of Rock

It may be emotionally draining to care for sick or injured individuals. Nurses see people at their worst during some of the most harrowing moments of their lives. They witness death and pain daily.

It isn’t easy to maintain a calm and empathetic demeanor when confronted with so much suffering. That is why nurses must have a heart of rock. They must be able to push aside their own emotions and focus on providing the best possible care for their patients.

Note that this does not imply that you completely shut down your emotions. Nurses who can understand and empathize with their patients provide better care. Finding a healthy balance between empathy and emotional detachment is critical for nurses.

Harassments are Common

Unfortunately, harassment and assault are common in the nursing profession. Whether it is a hostile patient, a disgruntled family member, or a coworker, nurses must be prepared to deal with aggressive behavior.

A study conducted by the American Nurses Association found that nearly half of all nurses have been physically assaulted.

Many nurses also experience sexual harassment. This problem is especially prevalent in male-dominated specialties like the emergency room and intensive care nursing.

There are certain measures to protect yourself from harassment and assault. Becoming familiar with your hospital’s policies on workplace violence and being aware of your surroundings can help. You should also trust your gut and speak up if you feel like you are in a dangerous situation.

It Looks Easier on Paper

Late nights, long hours, and shift work are typical in the nursing profession. Nurses often have to work weekends and holidays and may be required to work overtime regularly.

The hours can be grueling, and the work is often stressful. But most nurses would agree that it is all worth it. They would not trade their job for anything in the world.

Although enduring, these issues can be mitigated by seeking out a nursing position that best fits you. Consider your lifestyle and needs when applying for jobs. Make sure you are realistic about the type of hours you are willing to work.

You can also learn to practice stress-relieving techniques like yoga or meditation. Taking care of yourself is one of the most important things you can do as a nurse.

Overwhelming Requests for Free Medical Advice

Every time your niece gets a cold, your mother-in-law calls to ask about her blood pressure, and your neighbor comes over to show you his rash, they ask for free medical advice.

The world expects you to be a font of all knowledge regarding health and medicine. But you are not a doctor. For your peace of mind, you must set boundaries with the people in your life.

You can gently redirect these requests by recommending they make an appointment with their primary care physician. You can also direct them to reliable sources of medical information like the Mayo Clinic website or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Bottom Line:

Nursing is a mixtape of long shifts, little sleep, a lot of heart, and more. It is not for the faint of heart. But if you are up for the challenge, it can be the most rewarding job.

Do your research before becoming a nurse to ensure it is the right fit for you. Be aware of the potential hazards of the job and take steps to protect yourself. And always remember, you are not a doctor!

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