Nurses are in high demand across the globe and that is not likely to change anytime soon. Nursing is an incredibly important job that requires dedication, empathy, and the ability to work long hours. That being said, becoming a nurse can also be incredibly rewarding and allows many people to take great pride in their career choice and the work they do.
Nursing also offers good job stability, a competitive salary, and a challenging work dynamic. If you’re thinking about how to become a nurse, here are some steps to follow to guide you along the way.
1. Figure out if this is really the right job for you
For anyone considering whether or not they should become a nurse, it is advisable to think long and hard about whether or not this is the kind of work they are cut out for. As stated above, nursing can be extremely fulfilling work, but it is also full of challenges, long days, and emotionally exhausting experiences.
The education required to become a nurse is also not easy, so it is important that you really feel like you’ve found something you’re passionate about and will be able to commit to long-term.
2. Choose your nursing path
Once you’ve decided to become a nurse, it is time to figure out what sort of career path you would like to pursue. This will be largely determined by the sort of working environment you would like to have and how much training you’re hoping to do. For example, RNs can be found in hospitals, doctors’ offices, and other medical settings, but certified nursing assistants often work in nursing homes.
Think about what type of environment will be most inspiring to you and where you could enjoy growing and developing in your career. Also understand that there are different facets of healthcare, so at some point many nurses will specialize in an area that they really enjoy, such as pediatrics or critical care.
3. Make sure your high school grades are where they need to be
Whether you’re freshly graduated from high school or are deciding to make a career change to nursing years down the road, some of your high school grades will have an impact on your eligibility for the program. Make sure you look at all the admission requirements in advance so that you don’t run into any unpleasant surprises once you’ve already started the process.
4. Find a program that suits your schedule
Generally speaking, you’re going to need a dedicated nursing degree in order to practice nursing. All nursing programs will include time spend both in the classroom and in a clinical setting, these may or may not be located in the same location, so make sure you take all the places you will need to be into consideration when planning how you will get to and from school.
5. Know that you have options
If fitting regular class and clinical time into your busy schedule doesn’t quite seem feasible but you would still like to pursue a career in nursing, keep in mind that there are online programs available in which you can do the majority of the course work remotely and complete the practical component at centers in your community.
Also know that you can do an associate degree in lieu of a bachelor’s program. The upside here is that you will be done in less time, but it is also worth weighing the fact that employers may see you as less experienced than someone who has gone through a full bachelor’s program.
6. Apply early
Nursing programs are popular, so you need to act fast in order to ensure you’ll gain access to the institution of your choice. Make sure you have all the documents and paperwork you need in advance of application deadlines and submission limits. Due to the large volume of applicants, late submissions are not likely to be accepted.
7. Make sure you carve out time for studying
Although applying to a program can feel like a lot of work, you need to remember that the real workload has yet to begin. In order to excel in a nursing program, you’re going to need to spend time outside of the classroom or clinic studying and reviewing the course material. Ideally, you should go into the program having this time already established in your schedule.
8. Build a community
Having a solid support system can be the difference between excelling in a program and teetering on the verge of dropping out. You’re embarking on an entirely new career and will undoubtedly have plenty of questions and concerns along the way.
Don’t be shy about asking for help and clarification when you need it. Building relationships with fellow students with whom you can share resources and study time with will likely go a long way to ensuring your success. Once you donned on your nursing uniform, you’ll feel right at home among your fellow nursing peers.