Things to Know Before Becoming a Nurse

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Things to Know Before Becoming a Nurse

Nursing is one of the most rewarding professions one can go into. However, it’s not a role that’s free from big challenges. In fact, some specific nursing roles are so tough that the demands they place on people and the day-to-day lifestyle required have caught many who have finished their nursing education off guard. 

Things to Know Before Becoming a Nurse

Are you wondering how to become a nurse? Click here to know how is NCLEX scored. If so, you’re in luck because nursing is one of the most rewarding professions one can go into. However, it’s not a role that’s free from big challenges. In fact, some specific nursing roles are so tough that the demands they place on people and the day-to-day lifestyle required have caught many who have finished their nursing education off guard.

Here’s a look at some of the most important things nurses wish they knew before starting their positions in hospitals or care homes after completing their nursing education. Hopefully, this list will help new nurses just about to embark on their career to better prepare for life as a medical aid. 

Your Schedule Isn’t as Great as It Seems

On paper, the schedule of a nurse looks to be what dreams are made of. Usually, most nurses have an official rota of three 12 hour shifts a week. This is a big attraction for many people getting a nursing education, as it offers more free time than a lot of other roles. 

However, this free time is more considered a luxury, as it is highly likely that you’ll be called in super early during your supposed days off to help out in the institution due to them being short staffed. There is always the option of simply declining it, but this isn’t going to create good will among your peers and will also make them far less likely to cover any shifts in the future. 

The idea of a 12-hour shift is also a little bit fanciful, as there are things that you’re going to have to do that extend this period significantly. Firstly, the time taken to report on your patients to the oncoming nurse can take hours, not to mention that your commute eats up on your time as well, turning that 12-hour day into something more like 15. You also don’t have the privilege of many long breaks during the shift, meaning that you’re going to start to feel those hours sooner rather than later. You better like coffee when you start your nursing education.  

There’s More to It Than Medical Care

Although providing care and treatment is the main goal of being a nurse, there are also various other duties that are involved in the role that nurses need to navigate and be somewhat competent at. You’re going to have to be a patient advocate, a waitress, housekeeper, mediator, and so much more. 

This can help make nursing far more varied and unique, as it does mean that each situation is different, but it can also be challenging shifting focus to so many different types of tasks. 

Before becoming a nurse you can take all essential measures in order to become more competent in the healthcare field. Careers in healthcare are expanding in opportunity. You can get a pharmacy technician certification in order to be prepared to track controlled substances and process insurance as well as become familiar with the metric system.

All these extra aspects on the medical side mean nurses should have certain characteristics and skills so that they can deal with these issues. You can’t be combative or antisocial while working as a nurse, as you’re going to be around people all the time, helping them, calming them and providing support. This means you need empathy and to exhibit care towards the people — in fact, this is so important that many nursing education degrees focus on developing these traits.

You Need to Remember Everything

The role of a nurse isn’t well suited to those who may be a bit forgetful. This is because, as a nurse, a lot of staff members and civilians rely on you to be able to pass on information when called upon. 

Nurses need to be able to inform the doctor everything they need to know about their patient, which includes every medication they take, the times it’s administered, every lab result, and vital signs, to name just a few pieces of information nurses must process. Nurses need to be able to do all this, and do it for multiple patients, sometimes numbering in the double figures, depending on the size of the institution. 

It’s safe to assume that the average person will not be able to recall all that without noting it down. That’s why new nurses need to get into the habit of writing every single thing down, so that it can easily be found and presented. You can learn notetaking techniques on various courses, but they also help you refine it during your nursing education. 

Mistakes Happen

Hospitals or other areas where nurses operate are high stakes environments where the finest of margins can determine life or death, or at the very least, cause serious problems. They’re also fast paced places with a high workload, meaning that there’s less time available for staff to take extra care with what they’re doing. 

Although each member of a hospital staff strives to be perfect, the unfortunate truth is that mistakes can and will happen, and you’re probably going to make at least one during your nursing career. 

It’s important to learn how to deal with making a mistake, as it’s going to feel awful and you’re going to feel anxious about the potential ramifications, but you can’t let a mistake rattle you and put you off the rest of your work, as others will be depending on you to be at the top of your game. 

Identifying coping mechanisms will be a good way to help you get over the mistake, but it’s also vital to learn from each mistake to ensure that you progress as a nurse and to avoid doing the same thing twice. Learning from mistakes is part of good nursing education. 

Death Is Hard

Not all nurses will, thankfully, have to experience the passing of a patient depending on their specialization, however, death is a frequent topic facing most nurses in the caring industry. No nursing education or course can prepare you for the emotional effects of being around a death, and it can really be a tough thing to process. 

This means that it’s important to figure out if you have the right mind frame and temperament to deal with this trauma in a healthy way before you begin your nursing education, because if you don’t, this could create problems.

It’s also worth pointing out that it doesn’t get easier the more deaths you experience. Your first and 100th death hit you in the same way, and it can be made even worse when you’re expected to be that support figure for family members and loved ones. It’s not uncommon for nurses or others in the medical profession to have regular therapy sessions to help them better combat the effects of these experiences. 

You’ll Develop a Sick Sense of Humor

As a nurse, you’re going to be more engrossed with frankly awful and disgusting situations. Body fluids and wounds and all that lovely stuff in between will be regular sights during your working day, and after time you’ll become desensitized to it all. 

This desensitization will then also warp your sense of humor, and you’ll quickly find you and your coworkers joking and bantering about some horrid stuff that’s likely to make a non-medical person view you as a bit risque. 

However, this sick humor has its merit, as it can help you deal with the stress of a long day and can become a pretty helpful coping mechanism for you. Learning how to laugh at bad situations is never a bad thing and will help make you far more positive.

You Need to Learn Phone Etiquette Quick 

There’s a lot of communication that needs to be done when working as a nurse, as you replay information between departments and people. The issue is that barely any of this communication is done face to face, instead telephone calls are the main means. 

If you’re one of those people who has an irrational fear of phone calls, you’re going to have to get over that really quickly to succeed as a nurse. It’s also good to learn how to structure your calls so that you’re the most efficient you can be when talking. Have a plan on what you’re going to say or ask for, as this can improve your and the whole organization’s productivity. 

With some key departments, you’ll have to call on a daily basis as a hospital nurse’s role touches the pharmacy, laboratories, supplies, nutrition and case management just to name a few areas, and that’s why good nursing education focuses on communication skills. Be sure to perfect that well-mannered telephone voice. 

You’ll Be In Pain

Nursing is a physically demanding job, involving a lot of activity and movement, and because of that, you’re more than likely going to be worn out at the end of your long shift. 

This is because your shift will usually consist of long periods of sustained walking and standing as you hold your bladder for hours due to not being able to nip to the toilet. You’re also going to have to lift heavy objects and potentially maneuver patients from beds. These examples just go to show how demanding this role can be, so it’s important to look after yourself well. 

Be sure to eat healthy and nutritious food to help fuel you. It’ll be tempting to shovel junk food and candy into your gob all shift, but all this will do is give you a boost in sugar, and won’t do much to improve your longer term energy or health. Also learn how to stretch and exercise your muscles effectively so that you don’t develop back problems, and it may also be a good idea to invest in a heating pad to relieve aching muscles and joints. 

You’ll Want More Pay 

Nursing isn’t an underpaid job in any respect, as a lot of nurses get a decent salary, when compared with other entry positions that require similar qualifications – that’s why so many people get a nursing education. However, with the number of roles and responsibilities that you’ll have to fulfill as a nurse, you’ll undoubtedly feel that you deserve more. 

The good thing about nursing is that it offers a great deal of progression within the industry, making it a good one to stay in and develop into better compensated roles. There’s also the opportunity to have a varied career as a nurse, as you can easily pivot from one sector of nursing into another, allowing you to have a fulfilling career. This is made easier by the fact that demand for nurses in the United States is especially high, meaning that there’s less competition for high paying roles, such as travel nurses, making it super worthwhile to pursue and get a nursing education. Here is travel nurse pay and the growing demand for the profession.

Your Social Life Will Suffer 

It’s always possible to have a fulfilling social life as a nurse, due to the more days off you’ll have than a regular job. However, you’re still going to end up missing out on some key life events because you’re at work. As a nurse, you’ll likely not work sociable hours, meaning that when friends might be meeting up for after-work drinks, you may only be a few hours into your night shift. 

Plus, there’s also a high chance that you’ll have to work weekends too, which are the prime time for when people get together, meaning that you might miss things then as well. 

Furthermore, if you do manage to find a time when you’re not at work and there’s an event going on, you may also simply be too tired to attend as you’ll need to recharge from your hectic shifts that you’ve just been through. Be prepared to miss birthdays, holidays, weddings and definitely a happy hour at the bar every once and in a while. 

You’ll Make Friends For Life 

Due to the nature of the work, the long hours and the time you spend with your co-workers, you’ll quickly develop a close bond with these people, and that’s potentially one of the most special things about being a nurse, the sense of family that can develop with the rest of your team. 

These people will start to understand you and be around you more than other people in your life, meaning that they will become significant people in your life. You’ll be celebrating holidays with your coworkers, birthdays and other special life events and when you look back at your nursing education and career, you’ll find that you’ve made some incredible friends.