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What You Need To Know Before Becoming A Nurse

It makes no difference what career you choose in the end; unless you research it thoroughly and you learn as much as you can about it before you start, it could be that you’re making a mistake. Researching before you begin is crucial since you will be spending money on your studies, time and effort on your work, and if it turns out that you just don’t enjoy what you’re doing or it’s not quite what you thought it would be, then all that money, time, and effort will be wasted.


When it comes to nursing, the same thing holds true. You might have had the idea of becoming a nurse for many years, perhaps since you were a small child, but that doesn’t mean it truly is the right career for you, and there is a lot to learn about it before you completely commit. Of course, you could just plow ahead anyway and start your online nursing programs with hope for the best, but wouldn’t it be better to know ahead of time? Nursing is a wonderful career, something that will bring you great joy and make you glad you chose it, assuming you’re the kind of person who will do well in nursing. If not, then as much as it might be one of the most rewarding careers out there, you may still find that it’s not for you. Read on to discover just some of the things you should know about nursing before you start any online nursing programs, just to make sure you’re making the right choice for you.




Nurses Have To Think For Themselves 

How do nurses know what to do daily? Do they go into the hospital or clinic they work in, take a list of orders from the doctors and other nursing staff who were on shift beforehand, and work through that list, getting as much done as possible before the next shift arrives? This might be how some people think that nursing is done, but the truth is very different. Once a nurse has been through online nursing programs and graduated with a nursing degree, they are expected to work fairly autonomously. This can be surprising to some who expected nurses to be under doctors’ orders.


Nurses do have to think for themselves much of the time, and although part of what they do is to follow instructions given by doctors when it comes to patient care, the majority of their working shift is going to be about making decisions for themselves based on the needs of the patients. Some of those decisions will be life or death, and they will have to be made quickly and confidently.


A nurse who can make these decisions and think on their feet to deal with emergencies is simply doing their job, and this is something to bear in mind. Although it’s a skill that can be learned in time, it’s also a skill that you need to want to learn, and if it doesn’t sound like something you would be comfortable doing, perhaps nursing is not the profession for you. If you are excited by the idea and can’t wait to get started searching for the right online nursing programs, then nursing is probably exactly what you should be doing.


Night Shifts Don’t Have To Be Bad

When you are a nurse, you don’t just have to work night shifts. You won’t have to work just day shifts either, or every weekend and holiday. There will be some form of flexibility within your working patterns that will allow you to have a home life as well as a hard-working one. Once you have your nursing degree after studying online nursing programs, you will be able to choose where you work and, eventually, what shifts you work (to some extent). This will take some time, and flexibility isn’t something that you should expect right away, but throughout your working life, you should be able to reach a stage where night shifts are a thing of the past if you want them to be.


However, even though the idea of working all night might initially seem like a terrible thing and like something that you would never want to be a part of (to the point where it puts you off searching for online nursing programs to study), once you start working them, you may find that they’re not so bad. In fact, many people quite enjoy them. Although they are no less busy than day shifts (people get sick at any time of the day or night, hence the need for 24-hour nursing care in the first place), they can mean that you get more time at home than you would if you were working days. Although some of that time will be used to sleep, the rest can be used to get your grocery shopping done, catch up on TV in peace, or go to the gym when most other people are at work. There is something rather freeing about this idea.


Even if you don’t enjoy night shifts, they shouldn’t be seen as any penance; they’re not a punishment just because you only just finished online nursing programs or you did something wrong in your job, for example. They will be allocated on a fair basis so that everyone has a chance to do them.


If you really dislike night shifts and it’s putting you off nursing altogether, don’t worry; you can still be a nurse and work only days. It might mean not working in a hospital, but if you were to work in a school or other public place, or you took on community nursing or even looked into one of the jobs that could be done remotely once you are a qualified nurse, you’ll see there are many options, and you don’t necessarily have to give up on your dream.


Hospital Jobs Are Competitive 

When you are studying online nursing programs and working toward your nursing degree, you might well assume that it will be easy to find a job as a nurse when you’re done and fully qualified. This is true; there are many thousands of open spaces for nurses across the country, and there is a national (even worldwide) shortage of good nurses, so you will always be able to find an opening somewhere.


However, what you might not be able to do is find an opening in the hospital you were truly hoping to work in. Whether it’s the one closest to your home, the one with the best reputation, or the one in a place that you wanted to move to, there might not be an opening when you are ready to apply. Plus, there will be many applicants when there is an opening, so there is no guarantee you will get the job (although there is a fairly solid guarantee you will get a job as a nurse once you have finished online nursing programs).


In this case, you will have a choice. You can either choose a different hospital and make different plans to the ones you initially had (perhaps you’ll have a longer commute, or you won’t know anyone at the hospital you’ve got a job at whereas you did at the one you had originally planned on working in), or you can give up on the idea of a hospital altogether. We’ve briefly mentioned above that there are other options for nurses, which is something to bear in mind. A hospital might be the first thing you think of when you consider where nurses work, but in reality, there are a plethora of other workplaces for nurses, and once you start investigating them, you might find that they are of interest.


You might wonder why, if there is a shortage of nurses, you aren’t sure to get a job in the hospital of your choice once you have completed your online nursing programs. This is because of budgets; hospitals will only have the money to hire a specific number of nursing graduates each time they are recruiting. This is because nurses who are just starting out will need additional time and training, which costs money.


The ER Needs Experienced Nurses

If your ultimate dream once your online nursing program studies are done is to work in the ER, this is admirable. The ER is the busiest department in any hospital, and the number of people who move in and out of it, often in life-threatening conditions, is vast. Lives are saved in the ER every day, and it’s an exciting place to work; of course, many new nurses want to be a part of this, especially when you compare it to other hospital departments that can be slow and sedate.


Yet it is highly unlikely that anyone who has just stepped into their first nursing role will be able to work in an ER. The nurses who work in such a department are extremely experienced with many years of nursing behind them. They will work well with others to such a point that words aren’t needed; they will simply know what they need to do and do it, without fuss and complaint and, most importantly, without delay.


If you do want to become an ER nurse, it will need to be a dream for the future. That doesn’t mean, of course, that you shouldn’t start planning for that dream right from the start. Look into just what it will take (in terms of personality, skills, and qualifications) to become an ER nurse. You will be able to pick up many of the skills across various departments in a hospital, so you might decide that it makes sense to start in one area and move across to another when there is an opening, becoming an all-round experienced nurse.


It’s not surprising that many nurses dream of working in the ER. There is always something exciting happening, and certainly never a dull moment. This is where your work results can be seen immediately and where bringing people back from the brink of death is a daily occurrence. It’s not for everyone, though, and even if you’re a wonderful nurse in a slower and calmer department, you might not fare so well in the ER. Make sure you are entirely sure that ER nursing is what you want before you aim for it, as nurses are needed all over the hospital, and you might be more useful and make a bigger difference elsewhere.


You Won’t Get Used To Someone’s Suffering 

Nursing necessarily means that you will have to see people suffering, and no amount of studying in your online nursing programs will help you with that; it’s all part of what a nurse has to deal with. You might think that, even though you find it hard to witness someone’s discomfort before you obtain your nursing degree, once you have enough experience in nursing, it will become easier, but this is not usually true. If it’s hard to be part of someone’s suffering now, before you become a nurse, it will still be hard later, once you are qualified and have been a nurse for many years. This is important; it shows your humanity, and it means you will be a better nurse, more able to understand what people are going through and why they are hurting or scared and therefore more able to help them.


When we say you won’t get used to someone else’s suffering, we don’t mean the injuries and the blood that will sometimes accompany a patient. This can become less worrying, even if you are a little squeamish at the start. If this is going to be a problem, then nursing may not be an ideal profession for you; nurses have to deal with all kinds of bodily fluids and many different injuries, and they need to stay calm, caring, and professional all the way through. This is a crucial skill.



Before you start looking for excellent online nursing programs, you need to understand just what it takes to be a nurse, and how it will change your life. Are you ready for the challenge?