Nursing is one of the most well-respected, compassionate, and caring career paths that you can get into in the world today. Nurses are professionals that work in a career which allows them to make a real difference to the lives of the people that they work with on an everyday basis, along with providing lots of rewarding opportunities when it comes to career progression and advancement, job security, earning potential, job satisfaction and more. Nurses are a key part of today’s healthcare system, and they are in higher demand than ever before due to a nursing shortage caused mainly by the aging population.
Over the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a healthcare crisis around the world that has only shown the general public just how important nurses are when it comes to looking after their health and wellbeing. If you are a compassionate, empathetic, and caring person who enjoys helping others, and you want to start a new career where you can make a difference and do good in the world with the work that you do, training as a nurse could be the perfect option for you. Here’s everything that you need to know about the education options available and the skills that you will need to develop to work successfully as a nurse.
Degree Programs and Nursing Training
To become a nurse, you will need to have relevant qualifications. There are several options to consider, which include:
· Associate Degree
You can get an associate degree in nursing to get started in your career as a nurse. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that an associate degree will only qualify you to become a registered nurse, and it may be harder for you to progress your career in the future with this qualification as an increasing number of advanced nursing programs now require a BSN as a minimum. In addition, nurses with an associate degree might find it more difficult to find employment, with more employers around the world now actively seeking to hire nurses with a BSN. It is likely that the BSN is going to eventually become the minimum requirement to work as a registered nurse, with New York State leading the changes with their new BSN-in-10 regulation. So, while an associate’s degree can get your foot in this career, you may need to study further in the future.
· Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Getting a BSN is the best way to get into a nursing career today. This qualification is designed to thoroughly prepare potential nurses for working in this career and provide them with a solid foundation for success. The BSN is also the minimum requirement for most career progression opportunities whether you are looking for an opportunity to specialize in a certain area of nursing or are considering training to work as a nurse practitioner, nurse manager, nurse educator or other advanced nursing role. Around 80% of healthcare employers are now actively seeking to hire more BSN-trained nurses, with studies showing that nurses with a BSN tend to have a much better impact on patient care in general with fewer readmissions, fewer fatalities, and fewer hospital infections.
· Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing
These accelerated BSN online programs from Marymount University are the ideal choice for anybody with a current bachelor’s degree in another subject who wants to change their career to nursing. The ABSN is designed to take around half the time that you would spend on getting a traditional BSN, making it a faster and more convenient way for those who want a career change to hit their goals. This BSN is designed to build on what you already know and have learned from a previous degree in any subject, cutting out the basics and getting straight to what you need to know about a career in nursing. If you’re interested in changing your career to nursing but do not want to go back to college for four years to get your BSN, this could be a faster, cheaper alternative to consider.
· Nursing Bridge Degree Programs
Nursing bridge degree programs are designed for those who already have a degree in nursing. If you have an associate’s degree and want to improve your education to get a BSN to meet standards set out in New York or get onto advanced degree programs to further your nursing career, a bridge program like the ADN-BSN programs available can be an ideal way to do this. These programs are another type of training that is designed to allow you to build on the knowledge that you already have as a nurse, to eventually get a higher qualification.
· Nursing Apprenticeships
Nursing apprenticeships are an alternative method worth considering for those who want to become a nurse or change their career to nursing. Although they are not as popular as the traditional degree programs, they are an option that allows you to work and learn at the same time if this is better for you. You will mostly be learning on the job and working under supervision to get an associate’s degree or BSN with hands-on experience rather than majority classroom learning, and you will typically also be paid for your work.
· Advanced Degrees
Finally, it’s worth looking into the advanced degree options that are available to nurses if you want to take your nursing career to the next level in the future. Once you have a BSN, there are several options to consider for advanced learning that could take you into a wide range of senior nursing roles including nurse practitioner, nurse educator, nurse manager and more. The MSN, or masters of science in nursing, is often the best way to get into these advanced roles, and you can find MSN programs with a specific focus on aspects such as leadership or clinical practice to help prepare you further.
What Skills Do You Need as a Nurse?
Along with the relevant qualification to do their job well, nurses also need to develop a wide range of skills that they will demonstrate on the job on a daily basis. Nurses will often rely on a wide skill-set to help them succeed further in the workplace and get the best results for their patients. Some of the most important skills for nurses include:
Being able to empathize with others and have a lot of compassion for your patients is key when working as a nurse. Nurses who are able to easily imagine how their patients must be feeling even if they have never personally experienced what their patient is going through tend to be the best at their job. Often, nurses will need to deal with patients who are angry, upset, fearful and worried, and being able to gently empathize and have compassion with their patients is crucial for success. Patients will often interact with nurses during a time of their lives that is tough, painful and frightening. Nurses need to be able to understand that patient behavior or words are not usually personal, and that reacting with kindness and empathy is the best way to put their patient at ease and make sure that they feel seen and heard.
· Attention to Detail
Nursing is a line of work where the health and lives of other people often rely on the decisions that you make. Because of this, there is no room for mistakes and nurses need to have very strong skills when it comes to paying attention to detail. You will need to be an observant person when it comes to working in this role, and understand the importance of getting everything just right. Whether you’re administering medication or reading a patient’s chart after taking over the last shift, paying attention to the finer details can sometimes be crucial for a patient.
Nurses need to be master communicators. In this line of work, you are tasked with communicating with a wide range of different people on a daily basis. Not only are you going to be in regular communication with your patients, but you’ll also need to talk with their families, and communicate with other nurses and healthcare professionals to ensure that your patients receive the best standards of care.
· Staying Calm Under Pressure
Nursing can be a very high-pressure job. Things can change at the drop of a hat and you simply don’t know what is going to happen during any working day. Some days might seem slow at first and then you will suddenly be dealing with a patient who has a serious injury or has taken a turn for the worse. Being able to stay calm and make level-headed decisions even in highly stressful situations is one of the main skills that a nurse needs. A nurse who is panicking is no good to anybody, so it’s absolutely crucial to develop skills that allow you to step back from the situation, view it objectively, and make calm decisions even when the stress levels are high.
· Eagerness to Learn
Nursing is not a ‘one and done’ kind of job when it comes to learning. Even if you have a BSN, an MSN, and perhaps a DNP, there’s always going to be something new for nurses to learn when working in this role. Nurses need to keep up with all the changes in healthcare; there are always going to be new diseases, new treatments, new equipment, new policies and more for them to keep up with. Nurses are also tested on a regular basis to ensure that their knowledge is up to date. It’s not unusual for nurses to find that, several years into working in this career, things have changed a lot since they first started. Being able to keep up with this and continuously learn new things is just one of the main qualities required of a nurse.
Nurses need to adapt to change quickly in a range of different situations. There may be times when a patient’s condition changes suddenly and you will need to make a quick decision regarding their care to ensure that they are getting what they need. In addition, working in nursing itself is a career that is often subject to a lot of change as there will often be new things for you to deal with. New diseases like COVID-19 over the past two years might come about and significantly change nursing, leading to new procedures in place to protect yourself and others. Being open to changes and able to adapt on your feet is a sign that you might make a good nurse.
· Mental Resilience
Nurses are people who will often work in situations that the general public simply do not experience. In this line of work, you are going to be working with people who are going through some of the toughest times of their lives. You might watch people die or see people’s lives get turned upside down after experiencing a traumatic injury or a serious illness. Since most nurses are naturally kind, empathetic people who like caring for others, it’s no surprise that this can be tough to see and deal with on a daily basis. Staying mentally strong is a skill that all nurses must be able to develop in order to be able to cope with the demands of this job.
Whether you’re a high school graduate considering getting into nursing or want to change your current career and become a nurse, there are several educational options to consider and various skills that you should do whatever you can to develop in order to get started in a good nursing career. Today, nurses are in higher demand than ever and once you have a BSN, the opportunities are endless when it comes to career progression and advancement. This makes it one of the best career choices to consider for anybody who enjoys helping others and wants to make a difference with a career where they get to learn new things, develop new skills, and keep moving forwards.