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12 Realities of Working as a Nurse

by Louise W. Rice
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Have you ever considered working as a nurse? It’s a career that has plenty of benefits, including high salaries and great satisfaction rates, but there are some other things you need to consider before diving headfirst into nursing. So, if you want to be a nurse, here are twelve realities you should know beforehand.

1, Becoming Qualified Takes Time and Effort

Becoming a nurse is no walk in the park. Even if you choose a nursing degree that only takes a few years, you still have to put in lots of time and effort to qualify. That means working during the weekends, finding excellent work experience, and nailing your assignments. It’s a time when you must put effort into networking, too.

If you want to become a nurse sooner rather than later, you could choose an online nursing degree for non-nurses. Remember though – studying at home doesn’t reduce the amount of work involved.

2, It Takes a Lot of Natural Skill

There are plenty of skills you must learn to become a successful nurse, but you must have some natural skills, too, such as –

. Communication

Nurses must be able to communicate their points clearly and effectively; otherwise, they run the risk of messing up somebody’s treatment.

. Stamina

Your first few shifts as a nurse might feel exhausting, as you’ll likely spend most of your time on your feet. For this reason, it’s important to have some form of stamina as a nurse.

. Empathy

On the tough days, it’ll be the passion that motivates you, which often comes from empathy. By having natural empathy, you will be more likely to show every patient kindness on top of their treatments.

3, It’s Both Mentally and Physically Tiring

Nursing isn’t an easy career. There will be days where you work so long that your feet hurt and days where you’ll have had to deal with so many difficult people that you want to shut everyone out for a while. The mental and physical strain felt will sometimes be overwhelming, and that is why it takes someone incredibly resilient and hard-working to thrive.

4, The Shifts Are Long

While many people go into nursing excited at the prospect of flexible shifts, you must also consider the lengths of those shifts. For example, an office job will typically ask for eight to nine hours of your time, but you could be working upwards of fourteen hours on the busiest days as a nurse.

5, You Must Look After Yourself

As mentioned, nursing is a tough job, and it requires more than looking after patients – you must also be able to look after yourself. This is because you will often be tired and overworked, and the only way to revitalize is to give yourself some much-needed relaxation when you can. Otherwise, you could end up burning out (which is unfortunately common for nurses).

Looking after yourself means taking breaks, making the most of your time off, and prioritizing your health. After all, it is even more difficult to get through a twelve-hour shift after only five hours of sleep and an unsatisfying breakfast.

6, Your Success is Down to You

When it comes to nursing, nobody is going to hold your hand. While your professor, mentor, and supervisor can advise you, in the end, it’s up to you whether or not you succeed. If you want to become a successful registered nurse, you must put in the hours; if you want to go on to do a master’s while working as a nurse, you must figure out how to manage your time. Luckily, this means you learn how to be independent pretty quickly.

7, Patients Aren’t Always Friendly

Unfortunately, patients aren’t always friendly. This makes sense, really, as people aren’t always friendly, but it’s still a surprise for many nurses that those they are helping aren’t appreciative. You don’t have to worry too much, though, as you’ll also be met with plenty of patients who will make you smile brighter than ever.

8, No Two Days Look the Same

As a nurse, you will never experience two days that look alike. On one day, you might experience an overcrowded clinic and a sixteen-hour shift, and the next, the whole day will pass quickly and calmly. For those who enjoy knowing what’s to come alongside a regulated schedule, this can be a nightmare, but it is ideal for those who like to be kept on their toes.

9, Laughter is Essential

It’s hard to get through a day as a nurse without a sense of humor. So when everything feels like too much, it will be the little moments that make you break into laughter that’ll instantly lift your spirits and give you enough motivation to make it through the day.

10, You’ll Never Know Everything

When starting nursing school, you might look up to the senior nurses assuming that they know everything. You’ll come to learn, however, that they don’t, and you never will either. That isn’t to say you won’t attain tons of interesting healthcare knowledge, but there’ll always be something new to learn.

11, You Need Nursing Friends

Your fellow nurses are a lifeline. As a nurse, sometimes you’ll need advice, someone to take over a task, or even just a shoulder to cry on for five minutes. You can’t expect to make it through an entire nursing career without other nurses having your back.

12, It is More than a Career

Some jobs are simply that – just jobs. Others, like nursing, are far more than that. While it is a role that will bring in money just like any other career, it also gives you a sense of perspective and purpose not commonly found in others. You’re not just working for a paycheck; you’re also working to improve other people’s lives.

It is important to understand the realities of nursing before applying for your nursing degree. That way, you won’t realize halfway through that it isn’t the career for you.

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