So a lot of you guys have wanted me to write on my thoughts about nursing now that I am going into my third year of the degree. Nursing is all about the holistic care of an individual. It requires patience, understanding, empathy and love of course, as you may already know. The American Nurses Association defines nursing as…
The protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, facilitation of healing, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, groups, communities, and populations.
For this week’s blog I will expound on 5 tips that you need to know if you are interested in choosing nursing as a career.
- Have a WHY
Do you love the idea of nursing and can you see yourself finding fulfillment in it? A lot of people are going into nursing because of the financial stability awarded after graduating. From my experience I find that these kinds of people drop out of the program usually in first or second year because they soon find out that it’s not the career for them. Having a WHY that’s more than just a pay cheque would be optimal when entering/applying into nursing (financial stability is still a huge factor in deciding what to apply for but you also want to love and enjoy what you’re doing too right???).
I recall hearing the testimony of one of my friends when I asked him why he chose to go into nursing. He told me that he never even dreamed of doing nursing and infact was avoiding it because he felt too many people (particularly in his family) were already in the field. He loved interacting with others but it didn’t have to be through the scope of nursing. He wanted to be different, unique and nursing was definitely not on the radar. The period of time while he was contemplating what to study in post-secondary, he had an accident which required hospital treatment for a couple of months. During his stay at the hospital he encountered a nurse that defied all his previous negative and stereotypical thoughts about what nursing was. He was filled with inspiration at the healing hands from the nurse who took excellent care of him and thought that it must have been fulfilling from the nurses perspective to interact with the patient and ultimately see him get well again. My friend then decided to apply into nursing because he had a WHY that inspired him quite a bit. He now anticipates the role of a nurse to suite his vision of what caring should be towards others.
- Comprehension over Grades
We understand nursing to be filled with some decently bright people. The competition to enter into nursing is ridiculously high, now currently at my university they require an 89% average straight from high school and at other locations they may expect even higher. Generally, being accepted into nursing probably means that you are no stranger in over achieving and getting A’s here and there in your performances. However, if you enter into nursing hoping to ace everything, rethink your strategy. As a student, you may find that getting that same A is much harder than it was in high school. Super smart people may get B’s or even a C or two when starting out. In this case, there’s no use in panicking and ripping your precious hair out your skull; rather than obsess over each grade, focus on comprehension, learning the material, and developing your critical thinking skills.
As long as you are grasping the scope of a nurse, growing in your knowledge and skill base and recognizing the positive impact you are having on others then you will always be winning! Of course scores still determine whether or not you pass a course, but sometimes you can’t build the technical knowledge until you’ve assembled a foundation of thinking like a nurse. Also developing the nurturing part of nursing is more than just high grades, it requires a heart to serve and relate to others at their own unique levels. If you ask me, I would much rather have a competent nurse with developed skills in empathy and patience than the smartest nurse that lacks those traits, but that’s just me 🙂 .
- Be Ready to SACRIFICE!
Probably the biggest change you will experience when entering into nursing school is having to sacrifice your current life endeavors to put more focus and commitment to your studies. There will be times when you receive text messages to hang out with your friends or other opportunities regarding activities you like, performances, concerts, group meetings and the like but you will not have time to tend to them all. Contending loyalties will be the end of you when combined with nursing so you’re gonna have to let go of the less significant things, at least for the time being. I also want to insert here that some of us don’t have the option to just do school alone, sometimes you gotta juggle a job or even 2 to meet with financial demands around your life! The reality is that there are responsibilities outside of nursing that we have to deal with like working and for some of us marriage and raising kids while being a full time student. Having the ability to plan, manage, and organize your time effectively can help reduce some of the dreaded stress and anxiety nursing school brings with it. Which leads me to my next point…
- Organization is KEY
This is cliche but you wouldn’t believe how many people still don’t do this. Did I say that contending loyalties would be the end of you in nursing? Well scratch that, procrastination will get you kicked out altogether! I was probably the biggest procrastinator in my cohort when I started nursing because I just felt like I could manage all 3 essays, prep for a presentation and read all the required readings within a night…that wasn’t the case. I had to really grow up in the area of timeliness and staying organized. God understood my struggle and blessed me with a friend who was super organized and well collected, nothing phased her because she was always well prepared and anticipated everything. Some of that discipline rubbed off on me and now even my work space office is clean (for the most part) and it’s reflected in enhancing my performance. Keeping a calendar on your wall or taped to your desk and writing important dates/events on it also really helps keep you on track. In addition, having a planner helps to organize events and gets you writing down important jot notes when necessary. It’s kind of like instead of highlighting everything, you just have the key points written down which summarizes your day in preparation for the next.
I just have to throw in the idea of discipline while I’m still on this topic. It’s a huge concept in nursing school and ties along nicely with the concept of staying organized. For example some students find it helpful to wake up long before class in the morning, travel the long distance to school and hit the gym, then shower, dress, read the necessary course material and attend class before 0800h. It’s not mandatory (thank God cause I enjoy sleeping in) but it sets the student up for success. They were able to conquer their morning and will probably maintain that control and discipline throughout the day. So keep in mind that to stay organized takes discipline and therefore even sacrifice (less sleep) to create the results you want to see in your performance and life.
- Clinicals & Self-Care!!!
Clinicals is proba… ok just breathe for a second and I will continue…You good fam? Ok good, anyways as I was saying, clinicals is probably the most stressful portion of nursing when it comes to applying your knowledge onto real life people! Keeping this in mind, it is also extremely rewarding because you finally get to ‘feel’ like a real nurse and work within the supervision of your instructor and other graduated nurses. This is where you become the sponge, think and move like the sponge and soak up literally EVERYTHING you can muster. There is a clinicals in all 4 years (At least that’s how my university is set up) and from my own experience, clinicals in first year is a complete joke. You attend once a week (on Mondays) and make beds. You might help transfer a patient here and there but for the most part, you’re not doing much. Second year clinicals is where stuff happens and you are immersed into it maybe even without warning (well I’m warning you now) and you might cry once or twice but it’s all good, it’s scary but the fright doesn’t last long. Stay focused on the deed, be optimistic and open minded because before you know it, you’re gonna be done. Be kind and know your place as a student but don’t be afraid to ask questions so you understand the rationale behind why certain things are being done. Respect those in authority because they have tons of experience and are there to see you succeed while doing your absolute best.
Ok so the night before clinicals do at least these 3 things
- Gather all of your supplies (calculator, black pen and pencil for the kardex, watch, pen light, stethoscope, notepad etc.) and have your clinical bag ready to go
- Lay out your scrubs / nursing uniform
- Get quality sleep because patient safety is extremely important and you will need a good night’s sleep to make sure you’re on top of your game. You cannot think critically with a foggy mind.
The morning of your clinicals do these 3 things
- Eat breakfast, even if it is something small. You do not want to risk passing out or getting sick. I have seen it time and time again.
- Listen to a upbeat song on your way to clinical
- Arrive early – 15-30 minutes early is ideal, breathe and relax!
At the hospital, know your patient like the back of your hand, including their activity, diet, primary and secondary diagnosis, why they were admitted, and of course medications and their interactions. Additionally but no less important than the others mentioned, make sure to know the possible social determinants of health that affect your patient. Remember that nursing is about holistic care and seeing the patient more than just a patient but as a human being as well so know more than just their diagnosis, understand factors around their life that can impact their health as well. After knowing your patient make sure to document and evaluate as required. This builds on your skill of time managing and critical thinking.
Nursing overall is a career which requires a lot of effort, focus and commitment but is greatly rewarding in the end. I can end with this, If you end up choosing nursing, you are in for a great experience. You are going to pick up helpful life skills not only in school but also in leadership, communicating and relating with others. There will be times when you doubt yourself but it’s made up for when a patient you cared for approaches you and tells you just how much you helped them out, it makes all the difference! Thank you for reading this weeks blog! Comment down below and make sure to subscribe to stay updated with new posts and entries in the future, Bye for now!! ❤