Have you always imagined yourself becoming a nurse but are unsure how to go about it? You wouldn’t be the only one. Gone are the days when you would simply leave school and apply for a nursing job – now, there are many hoops to jump through before you’re eligible to start a nursing career. There is now a vast amount of competition to face, while healthcare employers are on the lookout for the relevant education, training, and skill set when hunting for potential candidates. Just like many other career paths, a great deal of time and commitment is required to plan your route and get into nursing.
Whether you’re just starting out a new career or have worked in other professions and looking to have a change, it’s never too late to get into the nursing sector. Here are some top tips on what it takes to secure a nursing career:
Choose a nursing pathway
Nursing may seem like a niche field; however, there are many different avenues you can branch into, dependent on where your interests and specialties lie. Before you apply for nursing roles, carry out research into the various pathways to determine which would be most suitable and, in doing so, will help plan your route forward. Some of the nursing pathways to be considered include:
- End-of-life care
- Pediatric nursing
- Cancer nursing
- Mental health nursing
The different types of nursing means considering the type of environment you’ll be comfortable working in on a day-to-day basis. Each niche of nursing will mean having different responsibilities and types of patients, so it may need some careful thought before making a final decision as to which route to take.
Get an education
Some years ago, nursing applicants didn’t need to enroll in higher-level education, but due to the complexities of nursing roles and candidate competition, it has now become a mandatory regulation. With this in mind, it’s important to look into nursing schools as early as possible to secure your place on a relevant course. While you may never have had any interest in furthering your academic studies, there are many benefits of doing so. Not only will you find a job much quicker, but you’ll also learn the key theories and skills needed to succeed as a nurse.
There are various course types to look into, dependent on how you prefer to study. If, for personal reasons, you are unable to attend physical lectures on a full-time basis, it may be more viable for you to study a remote course such as an entry level MSN. You’ll still get practical experience, but on a two-week basis as opposed to months or even a full year out of your course.
It is possible to become a nurse without any experience, but you may feel as though you have landed in the deep end if you haven’t allowed yourself to truly understand the environment you’ll be working in. Most degree courses offer modules for practical work experience, but if not, it would be wise to go and find placements on your own accord.
Care homes and hospitals are often in need of a pair of extra hands to look after patients – especially when they are short-staffed. Make contact and ask if there are any voluntary placements available and explain your reasoning for the interest. Most institutions will be grateful for the help if you show good intentions. In doing so, you’ll be equipped with the relevant practical skills needed for a paid nursing role and reduce any potential shocks when the time comes for your very first day as a professional nurse.
Determine whether it’s the right choice for you
While you may have always wanted to become a nurse, the reality of the job can be quite a different ball game. TV shows and movies can fabricate nursing to be a much more glamorous job than it actually is, so it’s important to gain an understanding of the reality.
You must have excellent soft skills to help you thrive in such a challenging environment. What’s more, being queasy at the side of needles and blood may mean that you’re simply not cut for this career type, so you may need to think about whether you’d be comfortable working in such an environment. Some of the other skills that you should acquire include:
- The ability to convey dense medical information
- Sensitivity and empathy
Nursing is not the standard 9 am-5 pm routine that you may be used to in your current job role. You’ll have to work in shifts, which means working evenings and weekends as part of the medical team’s rota. When you have a young family or other personal commitments, shifts may not be viable for you if you don’t have the necessary support. With this in mind, take the time to understand whether nursing is truly something you’d like to achieve.
Find out where to apply for jobs
Nursing roles are typically advertised on standard online recruitment and job-seeking platforms, as well as newspapers – so keep an eye out for new postings in your local area. However, it’s always useful to think outside of the box and scour social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, where you may be informed of nursing opportunities by your personal and professional contacts.
It’s also worth networking and getting in contact with professional employers who may be on the lookout for new nursing candidates within their company. Paying attention to your personal branding on professional networking sites and showing interest will stand you in far greater stead of being contacted and hired.
Getting into nursing is no easy task, but with the above tips, it may give you some insight into what’s needed to turn your dream of nursing into a reality. While there are no shortcuts into the sector, the years of training and studying will certainly be worth the effort once you help your very first patient.