Working as a nurse is one of the most rewarding careers that you can pursue. However, it is also a very challenging field to work in. Before you commit to training to be a nurse, it is important to know what you are letting yourself in for.
Nursing is a unique profession, both in terms of the opportunities that it provides and the challenges that it presents. People who are able to flourish in a nursing role will find it to be one of the most meaningful and rewarding roles that they can fill in life. However, while there are lots of people out there who would genuinely love to help other people in their professional work, not everyone is well suited to the unique challenges that nursing presents.
● Compassion: Perhaps the single most important quality for any professional nurse to have is compassion. As difficult as any individual case might be for the nurse who has to oversee it, it is almost certainly going to be far more emotionally trying for the patient themselves to deal with. Even the best of us can be prone to outbursts of frustration or anger when we are faced with a serious health issue. Part of being a compassionate nurse means understanding the confusion and fear that patients often feel and helping them to work through this.
● Resilience: Nurses take responsibility for shepherding their patients through some of the most difficult areas of their lives. This requires them to be both empathetic and compassionate. In most settings, nurses will have to see to the needs of multiple patients; they will not be dealing with multiple cases simultaneously. This means that when a particularly emotionally trying case presents itself, nurses need to have the emotional resilience to not let this affect the way that they give care to the other patients.
● Problem-solving: It would be nice if nurses had all of the answers to hand whenever they needed them. However, given the infinite variety of situations that nurses might have to deal with, and the infinite complexity of individual cases, it is inevitable that nurses will find themselves presented with problems that they do not immediately know how to solve. Part of a nurse's role is working out how to solve these issues, potentially while under enormous pressure. Of course, there will always be doctors and more senior nurses within a healthcare facility who can provide advice, but in time-sensitive situations, nurses are not necessarily going to be able to reach out to these people. A nurse who is not confident in their abilities to solve problems with minimal assistance is going to struggle in the long-term.
● Organization: It is easy to underestimate just how many responsibilities nurses have in modern hospitals. Many people view the role of a nurse as essentially being like that of an assistant to doctors. In other words, they see nurses as simply carrying out menial work that isn't worth a doctor's time. However, this is a wildly incorrect view of the actual dynamics that exist. Nurses need to be just as capable as doctors at staying on top of their duties and ensuring that every one of their patients is receiving the highest standard of care possible. In order to achieve this, nurses need to be capable of organizing themselves and making their own decisions about patient care. Nurses cannot always expect a doctor to provide guidance for them.
One of the reasons that nursing is such a fantastic degree to pursue at this point in time is that the United States is facing what appears to be a chronic shortage of nurses. There aren't many professions that are truly recession-proof, but nursing is absolutely one of them. It doesn't matter what else is going on in the world, we will always need nurses to staff our health care facilities and provide care to patients.
We live in a rapidly changing world where automation, and technology more broadly, are transforming the nature of many different professions. While there are numerous exciting pieces of technology on the horizon that might revolutionize the way that we approach the dispensation of healthcare in the United States, it is inconceivable that we will ever reach a point where we no longer need human nurses on hand.
● Research nurse: Working as a nurse provides nurses with a unique opportunity to help their patients and to make a very real difference in their quality of life. However, the work of a research nurse goes beyond this. Research nurses are involved in helping to make decisions about the industry as a whole, and therefore, potentially help millions of patients.
Nurses who are particularly passionate about science and technology should seriously consider pursuing a research-based role. Research nurses can work in a variety of settings, in fact, any nurse can double up as a research nurse. Regardless of what your individual specialty or preferred field is, there are boundless opportunities for nurses to play a pivotal role in conducting important research.
● Pediatric nurse: Pediatric nurses work with children. While children and adults share the same basic physiology, there are significant differences in the way that some conditions are treated in children and adults. For nurses who want to work with children, in particular, it is worth considering online pediatric acute care nurse practitioner programs. This qualification will prepare you for working with pediatric patients in an acute setting and is one of the most rewarding nursing roles there is.
Unlike most professions, nurses are in charge of their own progression through the ranks. When a nurse feels that they are ready to progress, they simply need to enroll on a course for the relevant qualification. Of course, just because a nurse studies for a particular degree, it doesn't mean that positions will automatically open up. However, there is nothing to stop a nurse from earning a higher qualification and then hanging onto it until an opportunity presents itself.
As long as you are properly prepared for the challenges ahead, working as a nurse should be one of the most incredible things that you can do with your life. Make no mistake, the work that nurses do is not only invaluable, but it is also selfless and represents a very noble sacrifice. If you have the resilience to navigate the more difficult aspects of the job, nursing is a career that just keeps on giving.