How to Know if Nursing is the Right Career for You
We’ve all witnessed the amazing work of healthcare staff across the world during the Covid-19 pandemic. Perhaps you’ve even been inspired to explore a career in the healthcare sector yourself. You might be part of the emerging generation of young people who are ready to enter into the working world or get started in higher-education and perhaps wondering how they can make a difference and find a career that offers real value and purpose. Healthcare encompasses a whole host of careers and job opportunities, meaning there is bound to be a career path suited to your skill-set. However, knowing if nursing is the right career for you can be tricky. Hopefully, this guide can help you come to a decision.
Is nursing right for me?
Nurses are the backbone of the medical profession; they undertake the majority of the patient care and contact within a hospital setting as well as provide care in communities. So how do you know if it is the right profession for you?
A good place to start is to think about the skills you can offer, where your strengths lie, and what you enjoy. You can compare these to the attributes needed for different roles within the healthcare sector and find the right one for you. For example, maybe you’d like to work in healthcare but are a bit squeamish when it comes to actually providing medical care to patients. There is still a vast array of roles that could benefit from the skills that you bring to the table.
Are you a great strategist, with leadership skills and vision? If so, you could look at a career in healthcare management, operations, or business administration; these are roles that are absolutely key to the smooth and successful running of any healthcare business. However, if you’re keen to be at the forefront of providing care and treatment directly to patients, then nursing offers a multitude of opportunities that could suit you.
Do you love to learn?
Nursing is a broad term for a role which can vary hugely depending on the setting. You can choose to specialise in any number of areas such as community health nursing, surgical nursing, psychiatric nursing, oncology nursing, or many more besides. There are more specialties and sub-sectors within nursing than you can shake a stick at, meaning that you’re sure to find something that grabs your interest. All of these specialist paths will require you to complete further studies, so if you love to learn, then nursing is the ideal career.
Do you like a challenge?
The daily challenges of being a nurse is a given. There will be days where the pressure will be on, so if you thrive on overcoming challenges, then you definitely have what it takes to become a nurse. However, the challenges don’t stop there. Nursing offers multiple opportunities to progress up the ladder, which is ideal if you are keen to take on a new challenge within the workplace.
Perhaps you would like to have a greater role in shaping healthcare and feel that you could provide effective leadership. Nurse practitioner roles across various specialties are a great way to do this. If you enjoy working with children and supporting families through a challenging time, you might consider becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner. This is a highly in-demand role, and there is a huge need for nursing leaders within pediatric healthcare. If you possess the qualities to provide high-level medical care and emotional support to families, as well as having a desire to shape the nursing sector, this could be an ideal fit for you.
Whatever your preference for a new career challenge, there is a pathway for you. Take the time to think about the direction you want to take. Assess your own skills and perhaps talk to others; family, current colleagues, educators, or friends. What qualities do they recognise in you that you might be missing? What challenges might you come up against that you haven’t considered? Do you have the qualities needed to be a great nurse and an asset to the healthcare profession?
What qualities make a great nurse?
Now, with the above questions answered, it is time to think about if you have the necessary skills to embark on this new career.
- Communications skills
This is key. You will sometimes be the go-between for doctors and patients. You will need to convey information regarding complex medical procedures or treatments and to find a way to make this digestible for patients and their families. You will need to be able to communicate effectively with people when they are at their most vulnerable and deal with the concerns and frustrations of both patients and their families. Are you good at conveying information clearly and concisely? Can you remain calm and help to de-escalate situations when people become overwhelmed, stressed, or frightened?
- Empathic skills
As mentioned above, you will be coming into contact with people during the most difficult moments in their lives. Being in need of medical care and at the mercy of the diligence, competence, and kindness of strangers is a very vulnerable position to be in. Medical jargon and procedures can be confusing, and not understanding what is happening, and why, can leave patients feeling out of control, frustrated and scared.
Communication is a big part of managing that; however, putting yourself into the shoes of a patient and anticipating their needs is equally important. You are often the human face of a patient’s medical care.
Demonstrating compassion can make a huge difference to a patients’ trust and cooperation with the care they are being given.
- Attention to detail
Attention to detail is considered to be important in almost any job. However, mistakes and mishaps can be very serious, even deadly, when medical care is being provided. Diligence and fastidiousness in terms of patient care and recording of information is of the utmost importance.
- Resilience and stamina
Nurses are often on their feet all day, and it can be a demanding and chaotic job. Not only can it be physically tiring, but it can be emotionally draining. You are not working with machines, after all. You are working with human beings and supporting not only their physical needs but also their emotional and psychological needs, and those of their families. This can take a toll. Those working in healthcare and, in particular, nursing, need to have strategies of self-care to ensure that they are able to manage a sometimes strenuous job. Depending on what sector of nursing you go into, you may be expected to work long hours and as part of a shift pattern. Be sure that this is something you’re willing and able to undertake if considering a career in nursing.
If you’ve read through the above key qualities and feel that you can check them off confidently, then you are likely to be a significant asset to the nursing profession, and it is worth exploring as a career option. You could become part of an emerging generation of new nurses who are ready to take on the challenge as the backbone of healthcare and become the change-makers that are needed in order to continuously improve medical care and deliver quality services to patients across the healthcare sector.