Nursing is increasingly becoming a popular career choice due to the high demand / shortage of nurses in the United States. As a career, nursing provides job security, and multiple specialties to choose from. It is a rewarding, yet challenging career, but how do you know if it is right for you?
The majority of entry-level nurses begin their careers in a hospital based medical-surgical unit. These type of units account for a large percentage of nursing jobs. Nursing is career which challenges you physically, emotionally, and mentally. If enjoy putting 100% of your efforts into helping patients in need, then this may be the career for you. Because of the high stress involved in nursing, many nurses tend to “burnout” within a few years of working as a nurse.
The following is a list of four skills essential to nursing which may help you decide if nursing is the right career for you.
1) Time management is very important to becoming a successful nurse. If you can manage your time efficiently, you will be able to accommodate all of your patients, have time to chart, and also be able to help other nurses who may have a heavy patient load. Successful time management in nursing truly comes with experience, but if you have a knack for getting everything done in an allotted time period, you will be much more successful.
2) If you are able to prioritize, you will do well as a nurse. Prioritization is the key in ensuring that care is distributed in the order of importance. Nurses must have a keen ability realize when they should act on something immediately, and when something of lesser importance can wait.
3) Someone who has great attention to detail will do well in nursing. This is important when making assessments on your patients to ensure that your patient’s condition has not worsened. The nurse is the first line of defense against any sudden changes in health, therefore you must be sharp and recognize the signs of an event such as shortness or breath, heart attack, or stroke.
4) You must have a tolerance for working with bodily fluids. Many people cannot stand the sight of blood, nor the smell of vomit, feces, and urine. As a nurse, you will be in close contact with all of these bodily fluids on every shift. You can figure out your threshold for working with bodily fluids by first becoming a nursing assistant. With time, many nurses become used to working with bodily fluids to a point where it is no longer bothersome.
If you are able to handle these four things, you will do well as a nurse. Some important things to remember is that being an RN entails a great deal of responsibility. Not only are you responsible for direct care of your patients, but you must collaborate and communicate with multiple disciplines such as doctors, surgeons, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, diagnostic exams, etc. You must carry out the physician’s orders, meet the demands of your nurse manager, as well as manage the nursing assistants. It is a difficult job with a lot of multi-tasking.
On a side note, there are some harsh realities about nursing. Sometimes you will be so busy that you will only have a few minutes to eat, and on rare occasions, you may go 12 hours straight without eating anything. Sometimes you will have to wait several hours before you have time to use the restroom. You will have to work weekends, and holidays if you are a hold a full-time position at a hospital. These things do not sound very appealing but it is the reality of being a RN.
Overall, nursing is a rewarding career with many opportunities and specialties to move around in. There are a great deal of opportunities which are less stressful than others. Above all, if you decided to become a nurse, make sure that you are committed to helping patients. Nursing is truly a calling. Although many believe that nursing is a good career choice because it offers a good salary, job security, excellent benefits, and only 3 working days a week, it should not be the deciding factors. One should gain hands-on experience with nursing, and then decide whether or not they would like to pursue it further.
Written by Steven Kwan, RN, BSN