What You Need to Know About Being a Nurse

Wanting to spend your life helping and nurturing others is a very noble and respectable professional choice. Being able to help those who are in pain and who are facing life-threatening issues provides you with an amazing experience that will enrich your days. However, although it’s without a doubt rewarding, it can at times be very physically draining and mentally exhausting. That’s why it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into before you make a decision to accept the role in the healthcare field. 

Those of you who are considering becoming a nurse need to be ready to spend long hours in a hospital, dealing with everything from birth to death of patients, and, oftentimes, a hectic schedule. So, if you think that being a nurse is your life calling, these are some of the harsh truths about this profession you need to be aware of before you start your training. 

What Qualifications Do You Need? 

Although certain things depend on the country where you want to work as a nurse, you will certainly need to hold a vocation-specific degree to enter this profession. However, before you do that, first you need to finish nursing education, Massachusetts or in any other state, and then get your license. These classes are extremely important as a basis for your further professional development. With the knowledge provided to you in these educational institutions, you will get the essential tools that will help you deal with all sorts of situations you encounter in hospitals and nursing homes.   

If you’re living in the United States of America, you will have to pass the NCLEX-RN exam before you find a job as a nurse. In the UK this type of training is funded by the government so you will get to get the degree without worrying about student debt. Although this system is not active in the US, there are scholarship programs that can help you with the financial aspect of your education. So, make sure you check those out if you decide to start this journey. 

What’s The Nurse’s Job Description? 

Depending on the healthcare institution you find employment in, your job responsibilities will vary. However, while in training, you will learn and develop a skill set that will empower you to perform all sorts of tasks. Among the most common ones you will find: 

  • Administering medications and treatments prescribed by doctors 
  • Taking notes on patients’ medical histories and symptoms 
  • Performing diagnostic tests and help to analyze the results 
  • Operating and monitoring medical equipment 
  • Consulting with other healthcare professionals you’re working with 

You need to keep in mind that this is a team job, even though you will have a significant amount of autonomy in performing these tasks. No matter what your daily responsibilities might be, one thing is for certain – you will be working in a highly dynamic and challenging environment. Also, if there’s a specific medical field you want to work in, you should aim to start specializing and gathering the necessary experience.    

Long Working Shifts 

This is one of the reasons why some people will give up on the nursing career. Of course, the intensity of your shifts will depend on the institution where you perform your work. Simply put, working as a nurse in school and in an emergency room are two totally different experiences. Both valuable and rewarding in their own way but very different when it comes to daily routine and situations you have to go through with patients.

If you’re one of those people craving action, you can aim for a job position in a busy hospital environment. However, this means you will have no choice but to work night and weekend shifts. Also, be prepared that you probably have to miss some of the holidays away from your family. Due to this hectic schedule, you will feel both physically and mentally exhausted at the end of the day. So, if you’re not willing to give a significant amount of your time and energy to the job, it would be a good idea to either find another profession you feel passionate about or work as a nurse in a less demanding location. 

Good Memory is Essential 

As a nurse, you will have to keep a great amount of information in your head. You need to pay attention to things like patients’ names, room numbers, lab results, and similar data. In the case you don’t have an impeccable memory, and most of us don’t, it would be a good move to have some sort of a system to be on top of things. 

The easiest possible solution is to have a notepad with you at all times and to write down all the details you find important when it comes to the person you’re treating. There’s no need to write essays and let’s face it in certain situations you will not have the time to do something like that. However, small notes that will juggle your memory when a doctor asks you about the current condition of a patient will be enough. 

Learn to Manage Your Time Wisely 

One of the most important skills you need to have as a nurse is being able to manage your time efficiently. Creating a daily schedule with the clearly mapped tasks needed to be done by the end of your shift is a great move. However, unless you’re working in a calmer and slower-moving environment, keeping up with things as planned will probably be impossible.

As already mentioned, the day of a nurse is filled with unpredictable events so you will have to deal with things as they appear. Still, with good time management, you will be able to tackle all the planned things as well as those events that interrupt your schedule. 

Remain Positive 

Given the fact that you will probably have to go through at least a couple of difficult cases each day that can drain you emotionally and mentally, it’s extremely important to keep a positive attitude about life. Let’s face it, this is a highly-demanding job position and if you’re not able to be able to laugh and enjoy the small moments of joy life provides you with. This might seem odd at first but it’s important to have some sort of balance in life. You will have to witness some really heartbreaking events and developing coping mechanisms if highly necessary. 

Also, make sure you don’t neglect your personal life. Try to find time for friends and family and start some hobby that will relax you and keep you in a good mental space. This will re-energize you and help you deal with stressful daily situations.    

Mistakes Happen 

Just like with any other job, mistakes happen. However, given the fact you are often treating patients in life-death situations, any mistake you make will be thoroughly ingrained into your brain and you will never repeat it again. This is not something you will ever really get used to but it’s a part of life so be prepared. 

The Death of a Patient is Never Easy 

Another thing you will never get used to is seeing people dying. Each case is different and they will affect you in different ways but it will always be difficult to handle. Listening to the cry of parents who have lost a child or witnessing someone losing their fight with a horrendous disease will always be painful. And there’s no training that will prepare you for when that happens for the first time. 

Some cases will hit you harder than others and you will feel the need to isolate and cry. That’s a normal reaction and don’t be afraid to express your emotions. It’s a much healthier option than to buttle it up inside. As you spend more and more time doing this job you will develop a coping mechanism that will allow you to go through these situations.  

Physical Consequences to Your Body 

One more thing to be prepared for when deciding to start a nursing career is the stiffness in your body and pain. You will be able to function but let’s make one thing clear, this job is not for those who are weak physically or mentally. Given the fact that you will be spending most of your working hours on your feet, make sure you are taking proper care of yourself. If you don’t stretch and do some simple workout routines, there is a good chance your body will ache after every shift. 

Being a nurse is not for the faith of hearth. It’s a very rewarding job but it does have its drawbacks. So, if you’re not ready to deal with long working hours, a highly demanding daily work schedule, and mental and physical stress, you should look for your future occupation outside the healthcare sector. You can maybe find and talk to a working nurse and ask her/him to explain to you just how things work and what you can expect if you choose this as your profession.