What to Expect from a Nursing Career

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Becoming a nurse is unlike any other goal you can strive to reach. Nurses dedicate countless hours to their patients and their patients' families. From day one of nursing school, you are looking to make a difference every single day. Once you talk to a nurse, you will know what to expect from a nursing career, so even on your toughest days you can still leave work satisfied.

Today, our guest blogger Sean Frey shares his welcome to nursing story.

Welcome to nursing. These three words will echo in my head every time I change a rectal tube, foley, soiled depends, and do any number of the other less-than-savory aspects of nursing.

My mother is a nurse, my father is a nurse, and my mother-in-law is a nurse, so the natural course of life has brought me into nursing as well. After toiling through a two-year degree (three-and-a-half-year degree, let’s be honest) I am finally ready to get out there and practice my art; an art that was born in the stories my mother and father brought home from the ER. Nurtured by my love for everyone. Solidified by 142 head-to-toe assessments, 15 foley catheter placements, 10 IV starts, three codes, and one clinical in the state prison hospital. And finally, harvested from a single test that has told me, at least by state standards, that I am ready to go and be a nurse.

What to Expect from a Nursing Career

My first day... FIRST DAY... on my own at my first nursing job I was told that we were short staffed. So I had the entire hall myself instead of half, the aides that day were newer and needed help, and state was there for an inspection. At the end of the day, haggard and broken, I did one last round before giving report. A patient called me over just to tell me how fantastic her care was and she is proud to have such a good nurse taking care of her. That one thing is why we do what we do.

Yes.... welcome to nursing. This is what you can expect from a nursing career.

The reason I tell you this is not to scare you away, but to hearten your spirits enough for you to give everything you have for that father’s thank you, that child’s smile, and that look that others give you when you tell them proudly you are a nurse. Getting through nursing school is rough. Most of you are likely full-time students as well as mothers, fathers, and full-time employees. The balance between life and school is very important.

You'll Need Good Time Management

alarm clock

A good place to start is in scheduling and time management. Not only is this a great thing to learn for school, but I have noticed that in nursing it is extremely important as well. Keeping that list in your head might not be enough to remember every little task you need to do that day for all of your patients. Get a clipboard and start planning your schedules now. Set aside time to plan out your day like you would plan out a shift at a nursing job. When you need to study, when to call the doctor, when to eat, when to take lunch, when is your teachers’ office hours, when to talk to your supervisor about a complicated case. There are a lot of parallels to being on the job and being in school, and starting now with scheduling and time management is very important to your success in both arenas.

Communication is Key

After solidifying time management, I found the next best thing that helped me with my transition from student to practicing nurse was communication. Whether it’s talking to doctors, other nurses, the patient, the family, or the toddler that is wondering why mommy is sick, communication is key. I cannot stress this enough- being able to be precise, articulate, and compassionate in your communication will help you get far in nursing.

I was once told by my father that nursing is about the next question. If a patient says,"Well my side kinda hurts," you will need to have your next question lined up instead of just giving them pain meds. Who, what, when, where, why, how long- always be asking these next questions and you can get to the root of a problem and treat that.

Communicating with a Doctor

Communication with a doctor is completely different from communication with a patient. Nobody likes having their time wasted. Be precise, anticipate what he needs to know, have it prepared before you call, and anticipate what he doesn't know he needs to know. Always have a recent set of vitals, a list of medication, allergies, and pertinent information about your patient’s current status ready and written right in front of you. There are few things a doctor hates more than to get a call in the middle of the night only for you to say,"hold on, I'll check."

Communicating with Loved Ones

Communication with the family is also very important. Many people forget that while treating the patient, the family is also in need of treatment at times. Therapeutic communication with the family can go a long way in helping the patient get better as well. Listen, listen, listen. A lot of times the patient isn't able to get their needs across as much as their family who know them very well can do. The family is a vital part of the patient’s life and they can provide a lot of insight, even if it's the toddler who says,"Mommy kept holding her left side when we play." Do not underestimate the amount of pertinent information you can pick up from the family.

I have learned these two aspects, time management and communication, can be two of the most important skills needed when it comes to a nursing career. They set you up for success with a strong platform to work off of. If you have this foundation to work from you can build up from there with your nursing skills, knowledge, and teamwork. It is never to early to start developing these skills, so start now.

Want to learn more about starting a career in nursing? Contact an admissions counselor today.