How to Begin a Career in Nursing
Nursing is an excellent profession offering both competitive salaries and sustainable job growth. It is a rewarding career with a direct impact on people's lives and well-being daily.
There are a few things to think through to make the most of your journey to becoming a nurse.
What do you want to achieve?
Stephen Covey advised his readers to begin with the end in mind. That means thinking through what you want to achieve professionally as a nurse for potential nurses. Write down why you want to become a nurse.
State what you want to accomplish professionally and why. Next, find someone who can relate and share your goals with them.
Find a Mentor
Like any profession, having the help of someone who has been where you are is a huge benefit. Nurses get into the career because they want to care for others and improve their lives.
This is precisely the role that a mentor can play in your life. Later on, navigating schools, programs, and the interview process will be much easier if you have someone to help you.
Becoming a nurse is relatively straightforward, but it is always helpful to have someone hold you accountable and encourage you when the work gets hard. It is time to get to work learning with someone you trust by your side.
The first step of a career in nursing is getting certified. This requires finding a school that is a good fit for your budget, learning style, and desired specialization.
Think about your preferred learning style and consider if you would instead learn online or in a classroom. Figure out your budget and find schools that are a good match. Take a look at the teaching style and how that meshes with how you learn.
Most importantly, make sure the school you attend is accredited. Without an accredited degree, it will be nearly impossible to find work.
Schools can offer various levels of accreditation. Some degrees will be accepted nationally and others only at the local or state level when looking for work later. The freedom to live and work in a variety of places is a great benefit to nursing. You may not want your accreditation to be a limiting factor.
In the US, couple of resources that help determine the accreditation status of a program are
the National League for Nursing and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. Both of these are excellent places to begin researching schools and nursing programs.
Online nursing schools are growing in popularity as well. It may be possible to complete all classwork online and fulfill your clinical requirements locally. You will want to ensure that the online program you choose meets the same criteria for accreditation as in-person programs. Students can find more information at Accredited Schools Online and Registered Nurses Online.
Defining your career goals for nursing will also help you choose what program is right for you. How important is it for you to operate independently? Do you want to be able to prescribe medication? Do you want to work in a hospital setting or prefer a private clinic?
The average salary of a nurse varies depending on the type of certification and level of education achieved.
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
The ground level of nursing is a licensed vocational nurse or licensed practical nurse. LPNs and LVNs work under the supervision of either a registered nurse or physician.
Salaries typically begin close to $50,000. A one-year program and successful passing of the state's certification exam are the prerequisites for working as an LPN or LVN.
Registered Nurse (RN)
A bachelor's degree is required to practice as a registered nurse. Salaries for entry-level RNs depend on the location but usually begin close to $60,000.
For nurses looking to work in the United States, this number varies quite a bit by state and is worth considering when choosing a program.
Nurse Practitioner (NP)
Continuing to earn a master's degree can open the doors to becoming a nurse practitioner.
With the added responsibility of writing prescriptions and independently operating comes additional pay. The average salary of an NP is over $114,000.
Nursing is a worldwide occupation. That became obvious as medical professionals were thrust into the spotlight with the outbreak of Covid-19. Choosing where you live and work is just one of the many perks. However, there are a couple of things to consider when choosing a location.
Communication with patients and co-workers is an indispensable part of the nursing job wherever you choose to live, and work needs to be a place where language is not a limiting factor.
Not every nursing program is recognized universally. Double-check that your degree and certification are sufficient to work in the country or area where you are looking to move.
Nurses work as part of a team. Healthy communication with other staff and patients makes a stressful job much more enjoyable.
An interview is your opportunity to show the hiring clinic or hospital that you would be a welcome addition to their team. In many cases, the interviewer wants to hire someone they would like to work with just as much as someone capable.
Nobody wants to be stuck working a long shift with someone who is a jerk.
The First 90 Days
The process is not over after getting hired. Establishing and building a career goes beyond finding a place to work. Your co-workers will spend the next few days forming their opinions of you.
Making a solid first impression is critical to long-lasting job satisfaction. Ask questions, be curious, listen, smile, and show up on time. It may seem like common sense, but it is not common practice.
Work hard to earn a good reputation with your co-workers and patients. Doing so will set you on a path for a successful career as a nurse.
Nursing is an in-demand profession with no signs of changing. Few jobs provide such a great opportunity for positively impacting others' lives. With hard work and a solid plan, a successful career in nursing can be yours.
About the Author
This article was written by the Medshop Editor - Medshop is a leading medical supplier, servicing the Australasian region with an unbeatable range of medical supplies and a drive to exceed consumer needs.