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HomeHealth & Lifestyle5 Things to Know Before Starting a Career in Nursing

5 Things to Know Before Starting a Career in Nursing

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Picking a career is inarguably one of the most monumental decisions any student has to make and, understandably, one of the most daunting. Before you pick a career, it is vital to consider your strengths, weaknesses, and interests. If you want to give back to your community and make a lasting difference in the lives of people around you, nursing can be an excellent career choice.

Nursing is one of the oldest and most revered medical careers, and for good reason. The impact nurses have on the healthcare system is immense – without their efforts, it can be next to impossible for doctors and other healthcare practitioners to fulfill healthcare outcomes. However, being a nurse is not an easy job. There are a ton of things you need to consider and prepare for before stepping into this career. If you’re looking to learn more, keep reading.

Have a set career path

Before stepping into any career, figuring out where you see yourself going is important. Nursing is no different; having a rough outline of your career trajectory is vital before you start. Doing so can help you set long- and short-term goals and give you better metrics to measure your progress. If you’re considering a career in nursing, knowing where it can take you in the future is vital.

Once you get your basic degree, the next step is to get a specialization. Specializations help you gain that extra edge in your career and work with populations you prefer. Based on your skillset, you may have more success working with pediatric clients, geriatric ones, or those in mental health settings. The best part about getting a specialization nowadays is that you can do it online at your own pace. An online nursing MSN degree can help you advance your career without needing to head back to school full-time again.

Know that you will make mistakes

One of the biggest issues people stepping into the healthcare field, in particular, have is that they can be pretty scared of making mistakes. In such a high-stakes environment, every little step you take can seem like a life-or-death situation, and it’s only natural to want to do your best. However, no matter how hard you try, there are times when you will slip up and when your efforts won’t pay off.

While learning from your mistakes is important, it’s also essential not to take them to heart. Your mistakes may impact your clients negatively, but if you’re too caught up feeling guilty for too long, you won’t have a chance to learn. Recognizing your faults and doing all you can to overcome them is one of the most important parts of being a successful nurse. Acknowledging these factors can be incredibly emotionally laden, but in the long run, it can help you become the best version of yourself professionally.

You’ll need to be well-organized

When you’re in school, you might feel it’s okay to leave things until the last minute, no matter how important. However, when you’re a nurse, leaving things until the last minute can be extremely damaging, not just to your career but to your clients too. To be a successful nurse, you must stay on top of your daily to-do list.

Your everyday routine as a nurse will have you oscillating between different wards, catering to clients with vastly different needs. If you aren’t well-organized, you might forget each patient’s needs or mix things up. Any mistakes or delays can have lasting implications for your clients, so you must stay on top of your game. Keeping an everyday planner, setting alarms, and other reminders can keep you organized. With time, doing so can help you form lasting habits.

Have a support group

Regardless of how rewarding this career can be, it is also one of the most emotionally demanding ones. Unlike other healthcare professionals, nurses need to be very deeply involved with their clients, helping them go about their everyday tasks. This means constantly monitoring not just your client’s physical state but their emotional well-being too.

As a nurse, you’ll also work with a wide range of patients. Some can be well-prepared to make a full recovery, and the most you can do for others is make their last moments as comfortable as you can. Dealing with the stress of such a high-stakes environment can be overwhelming, and 91.1% of nurses report high levels of emotional exhaustion. If you’re feeling like everything’s getting too much, building a support group is vital. Talking about how you feel and venting is essential to helping you develop healthier coping strategies in the long run. In many cases, a support group may not be enough, and reaching out to a mental health professional can help you get the clinical care you need.

Stay open to learning

Nursing school can be pretty intense, and when you step from the classroom into the professional world, you might feel like you’ve got things under control. However, reality can be pretty different from the classroom, and you might soon learn that classroom principles may not exactly apply there. With every decision carrying such weight, you must approach every case with an open mind, ready to learn experientially.

A big part of learning experientially is staying in touch with your mentors. Your nurse leaders can give you extremely valuable information which can help you orient yourself better to the workplace environment. Sometimes, the steps taken at work can be pretty different from what you’ve been taught, but it’s important to recognize the years of experience your leaders have and make the most of that environment. Having an effective nurse leader can also be instrumental in encouraging innovation and can lead to better outcomes in the workplace.


If you’re looking towards a career in nursing, know that you have your work cut out for you. This is an incredibly fast-paced profession, which can ultimately give you infinite opportunities to grow. Keeping these tips in mind can make it much easier for you to adjust to the high-pressure environment and help you ensure the best outcome for yourself and your clients.

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