If you are looking to change career paths and are keen on branching into the healthcare sector, you may have contemplated the idea of becoming a nurse. As you may well be aware, nursing is a vocational role which requires a great deal of compassion and motivation and may often mean that their career is prioritized over their personal life. The main tasks of nursing involve monitoring patient care, giving out medication and offering emotional support to the individual or their family members in times of distress.
If you are looking to change your career path and are thinking about becoming a nurse, this article will provide an in-depth guide on how to achieve your ambition.
1. Choose a nursing path
Nursing comes in many different forms; therefore, there is not one single job that you can apply for as you may have expected. As there are a variety of different roles in nursing, you need to decide which sector would best interest you and suit your individual skills. You could start off as a nursing assistant to learn your craft and develop your experience, before working your way up to become a staff nurse or nurse administrator.
When it comes to choosing the specific sector you wish to work in, think about the type of work environment that best suits you. Nurses can work in doctor’s surgeries, hospitals, clinics and care homes; meaning their job roles will differ slightly dependant on which institution is chosen.
Typical nursing career paths include critical or intensive care, pediatric, or management. However, the world of nursing is undoubtedly changing as we know it, meaning there are more opportunities to research.
Here are some of the developing nurse specialties that current nursing students may be able to go into in the next few years:
- Virtual nursing
Although nursing has always been thought of as a direct form of care, it seems that a whole new career path is being introduced for nurses to go virtual. This career will act as a helping hand to those who choose to research their symptoms online but are presented with terrifying and often far-fetched information, leading to a self-misdiagnosis. Virtual nurses will be able to provide more accurate advice in regard to symptoms either via an online chat or on the telephone.
- Nursing informatics
Technology is developing at a rapid pace, and the healthcare sector is learning to adapt to it. If you consider yourself an individual who is more focused on the science behind nursing, then this path may be one to think about. It involves working with data in order to reduce the need for documentation while providing a more streamlined experience for both staff members and patients. Although this format isn’t currently isn’t being used on a wide scale within the healthcare industry at the current time, professionals have stated that there are huge enhancements in the not-so-distant future.
- Locum and emergency nursing
If you’re someone who likes to be on-the-go or doesn’t like being stuck in the same environment for a long period of time, then this nursing career path may be one that suits you best. It involves being sent to a variety of locations as to where you’re needed most. In some cases, disaster zones or war zones will be of priority, in which you’ll provide emergency care to the injured. This role may mean that you’ll be away from home for most of your career, so it’s important to bear this in mind.
2. Get a degree
Regardless of which nursing path you’re hoping to go down, all nurses are now required to study a higher-level education course to achieve a degree. As the industry has become more competitive, many employers now have very strict training requirements so that nurses can only work in certain sectors in regard to the qualification they hold.
There are nursing prerequisites that you will have to fulfill before entering the core of your nursing studies, where you’ll be required to take part in practical experience alongside your academic lectures. Doing this will allow you to get a full understanding of the real-world scenarios you may come up against and how you would respond to them.
Before selecting a course, it’s essential you consider which institution you would like to study at. If you have no commitments or responsibilities, you may decide to live away from home; however, there are courses that you can study solely online if you’re unable to commute. Many medical courses such as ACLS are available online and you can earn a certification, which is a good addition to your set of qualifications. Those who study nursing at bachelors’ level may then go on to study a master’s degree in nursing to further their career prospects. A course of this nature will prepare current nurses to be transformative nurses in today’s rather challenging healthcare environment.
The course niche you choose will depend on the type of nursing role you’re hoping to secure. Each course will suit different career ambitions and the types of skills that will be needed. With this in mind, it’s essential you do as much research as possible before you commit to a course, so you understand where it will lead you career-wise.
3. Personal skills
Although you may have a qualification under your belt, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re the most ideal candidate for nursing. Different career paths suit different people for a number of reasons, but one of the main ones is down to the type of personal skills they can offer. Due to nursing being a vocational role, it requires the individual to hold a specific set of personal skills, as stated below.
A nurse should:
- Be empathetic, understanding and patient
- Be a good critical thinker and be able to think on their feet without assistance
- Be able to deal with stressful and often traumatic situations
- Be able to work well with others in a team
- Have a sense of fearlessness
- Be good at communicating
Finally, one of the primary skills it takes to become a nurse is good emotional resilience. The job will be very hard-hitting at times, and you may end up losing patients that are very close to you. Everyone would find this a very tough situation to deal with, but it’s crucial you can switch off from your work life and not take your worries home with you. There may be times when you need to discuss your feelings with others, and that’s okay – but understand where to draw the line, so it doesn’t start to impact your day-to-day life.
4. Gain the relevant experience
Before you can start out on your nursing career, you will need to take on as much experience as you can before you get accepted by an institution to study a degree. Although you’ll be given nursing training within your course, you will need to show you have taken on some basic experience.
Many hospitals accept volunteers to go around the wards, check up on the patients and serve them food; while care homes are another ideal route of gaining hands-on experience to fulfill similar tasks. Although you won’t be able to learn the in-depth knowledge of nursing during the placement, it will show future employers that you have built up a good level of care and have an idea of how to deal with shock or even unpleasant situations. Your first nursing role can be scary, as you’ll be responsible for a patient’s welfare, but your previous work experience should help you get over those initial fears.
Regardless of which career you wish to go into, it’s always a good idea to keep in the loop with industry professionals or news that may push you forwards. One way to do this is through networking. As the saying goes ‘It’s not about what you know, but who you know.’
It would be a good idea to connect with professionals in nearby medical institutions on the likes of LinkedIn or attend industry events where you can meet and greet professionals face-to-face. Events are often the place where hopefuls aim to catch the attention recruiters who are looking to hire in the very near future. If you choose this option, make sure you’re well-prepared with questions and prepare a pitch depicting which career path you’re looking to go into and how you would be a suitable candidate.
During your work experience, it would be in your best interests to connect with as many people as you can. It’s likely you’ll be shadowing a nurse (preceptor) during the first few weeks, so be sure to show optimism and a willingness to do what is asked of you. Also, try and make a connection with the manager whenever you can. This simple act may be all that is needed to be offered a position once your placement ends, or perhaps even recommended for other jobs elsewhere.
We hope that this guide has given you some useful information to take on board in order to secure your dream job in the nursing sector. As mentioned, be sure to do your research on the career paths that are available and the best way to get your foot in the door.