So, you’re considering becoming a nurse – or you’ve already decided – and now you’re panicking because it sounds hard. Well, good. That means you care. You’re right, it is hard work – but shouldn’t it be? You’re training and learning to become a person who takes care of another person’s health and medical needs. And that’s a big deal!
The truth is, while many hundreds of thousands of students enroll in nursing programs around the country, less than 150,000 each year will actually pass the exams to earn their certifications. While that might sound like a lot, consider the fact that each year, about that many nurses also retire or leave the field. Also, consider the fact that, as of the last census, there are more than 323 million people living in the U.S. There are roughly 3 million nurses working in the U.S., which equals out to about one nurse for every 1,000 patients. This is why nurses are so important. This is why understaffing is a problem. And this is why you chose a great field to pursue.
Starting a Successful Nursing Career
The first step to becoming a successfully employed nurse is not to neglect your basics. Be present in class (mentally as well as physically). Delve into the material. The main reason that so many people fail out of or decide to leave the program before graduation is that they realize that nursing education programs are not a joke. They are hard work. They take time, drive, and effort. Those who leave often realize very quickly that because their motivations for becoming a nurse were not strong enough, their will and drive to succeed were also weak. If you really and truly want to be a nurse, you will be, because you will push yourself.
Utilize the Resources Offered
While you do pay dearly for your college education, there is no other time in your career that you will have access to so much free material and resources. Your experienced and certified professors and the nurses you will meet during your internships and training exercises are amazing resources. Always ask questions. Then, ask more questions.
The access to medical research, publications, and research materials is a gift. Take advantage of that. While they’re expensive and you may want to sell your nursing textbooks at the end of each semester, don’t! Those books will be valuable to you information-wise for years to come.
Start Networking NOW!
While your education will be a journey that is full of obstacles and challenges, many find that the journey to employment can often be just as challenging. There is nothing more disappointing than finally graduating with your nursing license and then realizing you have no prospects for employment.
Start making connections within the nursing community now. Make a list of local medical facilities, doctors’ offices, and hospitals in your area. Start visiting them. Introduce yourself and tell them that you are a nursing student and are exploring your field and future employment opportunities. Find out if they have any paid or unpaid internships. Meet the directors and managers of those facilities. Fill out applications that feature your graduation date. Connect with people who work there on social media, such as Facebook or LinkedIn. Sometimes, getting a job is all about who you know, but remember – who you know is within your realm of control.
Visit nursing events at your school or in your nearby counties and really try be a part of the nursing community. If you put yourself out there with a positive attitude, people will remember you. That will really help you when it comes time to start pounding the pavement looking for a job. Also, when it’s near time for you to graduate, start reaching out to your contacts and the facilities you visited. Let them know that you will soon be licensed and that you’re very interested in potentially working for them. Getting a few employment offers on the table ahead of time is never a bad thing.
The Most Important Tip for Being Successful
Rounding out this 2018 guide to a successful nursing career is the most important tip – CARE. You need to care about your education. Care about people. Care about your patients. Care about their families. Care about the fact that lives will be in your hands. Care about the fact that people who don’t even know you are depending on you every day.
Being a nurse is a 50/50 split between skill and caring about the job you’re doing. If you think this doesn’t apply to you, you’re in the wrong field. If you have a sour personality and aren’t personable, you’re in the wrong field. Those who show a genuine willingness to be warm toward others and really care about the people they’re treating will find that they’re much more valued in their positions than those who don’t.