Nursing is one of those fields that is marred by preconceptions and stereotypes. However, nursing has changed dramatically from work practices to expectations to the number of roles nurses can fill. And there’s a huge gap between the idealized image of nursing versus reality. Here are four things everyone should know before becoming a nurse.
You’ll Get Over It Eventually
If you’re going to be a nurse, you have to be ready for everything that comes with it. Nurses may deal with serious injuries, and you can’t be squeamish about the sight of blood or other bodily fluids. You’ll need to get over the “ick” factor to deal with patients effectively, though it may take time.
You’re a Highly Trusted Resource
Nursing was ranked the most trusted profession fifteen years running in surveys by Gallup. Patients tend to share information with nurses they may be reluctant to share with doctors. And nurses tend to be the lynchpin of the healthcare system, providing critical information regarding self-care, referrals to specialists and guidance on paperwork. The fact that you’re a support for your patients is one reason why the job can be such an emotional roller coaster, though it is one more reason why patients trust nurses so much.
It Isn’t One Degree
There is an amazing array of credentials related to nursing. A practiced practical nurse or LPN and certified nursing assistant or CAN are considered nurses, and they’re both considered entry-level positions.
Spend another few years in school to become a registered nurse or RN; they typically have a bachelor’s degree. Nurses may have additional certifications or graduate degrees to become a certified nurse anesthetist (CRNA) or certified nurse midwife.
It is actually possible to earn a doctor of nursing practice or DNP; this is a terminal degree for nurses. You can earn one of these advanced degrees through Regis College Online. The Regis Nursing certificate program includes a post-master’s nurse practitioner certificate as well.
Note that learning never stops. Even if you don’t pursue a higher degree, your nursing license will typically require continuing education hours completed every few years.
You Have Schedule Flexibility
Many nurses work 12 hour shifts straight; that’s especially true in hospitals and nursing homes. However, you could find jobs with far more flexibility. School nurses, for example, work during the school day. You could work in a nursing home or urgent care center, and these facilities need people on weekends and holidays, often with higher pay for doing so. You could work the day shift or night shift in a hospital. Work as a travel nurse and you could choose both when and where you work. Work for a nursing agency and you could choose what weeks you’re working and which you’re off.
Nursing is far more than giving out shots and taking someone’s temperature. Nursing is an emotionally and often physically demanding profession. Yet it provides diverse opportunities and the flexibility to work almost anywhere and anytime.