All healthcare workers provide an essential service to society, and working in this sector in any capacity can be an incredibly rewarding career. However, nurses, in particular, are often unsung heroes, as they are the ones working directly with patients and other healthcare professionals to make sure that the quality of care provided is the best it can be. They are there to help provide comfort to patients and their loved ones during what could be the most difficult time in their lives. They take on a myriad of tasks each day, often working long hours and getting little respite, particularly those who work in more high-pressure environments such as hospital wards, ICUs, or the ER department. With all this in mind, it is important to see why nurses are so vital and to respect those who choose this profession.
It can be easy to see why people are drawn to a nursing career, despite all its challenges. It can be rewarding in so many ways that, although at times difficult, the pros can outweigh the cons. However, working as a nurse isn’t the right career for everybody, and it will take a specific individual to be able to work in this field. If you have been contemplating a nursing career, read on to learn more about what it takes to be a successful nurse in reality.
1. Excellent Organization Skills
All jobs can benefit from great organization skills, but when you are dealing with life-or-death situations, this is even more relevant. Not all days will be so dramatic when you are working as a nurse, but the reality is that you will be dealing with numerous patients each day, as well as liaising with different members of the healthcare team in your place of work. This means that you will be responsible for recording and taking in a lot of information, not to mention the other administrative tasks that are attached to this type of career. This is why excellent organization skills are essential for nurses, and you will need to put these into practice every day.
2. Compassionate Nature
When you are worried about your health, the last thing you want is to be seen by a medical professional who is rude, dismissive, or downright cold toward you. As a nurse, you might not always deal with the nicest patients, but it is important that no matter what you do, you treat them with compassion. They say that nursing is a work of heart, and being able to empathize with your patients and provide them with the comfort and respect they need during these difficult times is essential. Not only will you need to show this compassion to patients but also to other members of staff who might be feeling overwhelmed, as this job can get tough. Sometimes, it might be harder to find that kindness and understanding within, but if you do want to be a successful nurse that excels at helping others, having a compassionate nature is key.
3. Strong Communication Skills
This is also a skill that is beneficial for all careers, but when you work with so many different people and it is a matter of health, you must be a strong communicator. Being able to make sure that your written and verbal communication is clear and concise will be key to your career as a nurse, particularly when you are conveying information regarding a patient’s well-being, medication history, and so forth. It will also help to show your professionalism; thinking about the tone of voice you use when speaking to others will also be useful, as this can lead to unnecessary tension or confusion if you’re not careful, particularly in environments where stress levels might be high.
Nursing can be a fast-paced career, so being able to adapt to new situations quickly is certainly a desirable quality. If you are someone who does struggle with quick changes, whether that be alterations to your working rota, having to change a patient’s care plan, or taking on extra work last minute to help out the rest of the team, then this might not be the best career for you. Although these changes can be overwhelming at times, your ability to adapt to them effectively will be key if you want to succeed in this role. You might also find that this is something that you get better doing over time, but ideally, you will be able to do this successfully already.
5. You Enjoy Learning New Things
If you want to become a nurse, you will need to be prepared to study for a nursing degree as well as participate in practical training on the job. If you are someone who doesn’t enjoy learning new things or has little interest in doing academic studying, you might want to rethink nursing as a career. You’ll also need to be willing to continuously learn on the job, as throughout your career, there will likely be changes to healthcare practices, new treatments, or medications. If you want to move forward in your nursing career, you will likely need to do further training or even obtain a higher-level degree too. This is why an enjoyment and interest in learning new things can be beneficial to someone interested in a nursing career.
6. You Enjoy Being Part of a Team
Being able to use your initiative and manage your workload independently is certainly a skill you will need as a nurse, but the ability to work well with others is even more important. As a nurse, you will be not just a key player in your nursing team, but the entire healthcare staff in your working environment. You will need to be able to support your colleagues and do what you can to keep morale high, as this will be important, especially on hard days when people might be feeling overwhelmed. If you aren’t an individual who enjoys working with others daily, you might want to consider a more solitary career path, as nursing depends on great team players.
7. A Good Memory
Being efficient when it comes to your organization and time management is a must for nurses, but you will also need to have a good memory. It won’t be uncommon that you will find yourself having to take note of a patient’s symptoms, medication, or another important piece of information and you might not have a pen or paper on you at the time to jot it down. This is why having a good memory is very useful for nurses, as you will need to be able to remember how much medication you have given someone, a task that has been requested from a doctor or another member of the healthcare team, and so forth. You could even try to do some brain games to help improve your memory if you think this might help.
8. You Are Comfortable Working Under Pressure
While there are some working environments for nurses that can be more relaxed than others, you will be working in some high-pressure ones at least once during your career. Even if you are a kind, caring person with a drive to help people, if you aren’t comfortable working under pressure, you might want to consider an alternative career to nursing. Even in the more slow-paced healthcare environments, there is still a certain level of pressure in this role, as you are dealing with the health and well-being of others. Even a slight mistake could lead to someone becoming seriously ill or worse. The rewards of being a nurse are wonderful, but it is a job that comes with a lot of responsibility, too.
9. You Don’t Mind Working Night Shifts or at Weekends
You won’t necessarily have to work unsociable hours for the entirety of your nursing career, as you might find employment in a smaller clinic or GP’s office, a school, or another establishment where your nursing skills are needed. However, all nurses can expect to work in hospitals or similar environments at the beginning of their careers, particularly while they are still in training. You will be working in shifts in places like this and they can be up to 12 hours long in some cases. If you are an individual who wants to have their weekends and evenings free to socialize or engage in other leisure activities, you won’t find this with nursing. You need to be willing to put in these hours, at least for the first few years of your career, as this is what will be expected and needed from you.
Nurses are key players in healthcare, and there is a constant demand for more, as this service is essential for the rest of the community. It can be a tough career, and not everyone will find that it is the right pursuit for them. Although many other qualities and skills go into making a successful nurse, the points listed above are some of the most important ones, so think about whether you can recognize any of them within yourself to help you decide if nursing is the right career choice for you.