Nursing is one of the fastest-growing professions in the world right now, and it’s no wonder why. Do you enjoy helping people in any capacity and are looking for a career that offers a flexible schedule, great pay, and ample opportunities for advancement? Nursing could be your calling.
Being a nurse isn’t all about taking vitals, cleaning wounds, and administering medications; the profession has much more to offer now than it used to.
A nurse these days is much more than a healthcare provider; they’re patient advocates and are on-call twenty-four hours a day to assist their patients with any need or concern.
A career in nursing is more complex than it seems on the surface. When you embark on your journey toward BLS certification, here are eight ways to prepare for what’s ahead.
Choose the Right Nursing Program
Finding the right program is vital for just beginning your nursing education. You’ll want to consider tuition, location, and accreditation costs.
There are hundreds of nursing programs across the nation. The first step to choosing the right one is narrowing down your choices instead of searching far and wide for a school that might not fit your learning style or schedule.
Find a nursing program that aligns with your career goals and does so within your financial means. Some nursing schools offer a payment plan as part of their tuition; others may require independent or government loans.
Consider the student-to-faculty ratio. The goal is to have an intimate learning environment where you receive personalized attention from your instructors.
Choose a school that has an accredited nursing program that’s in-state and within your budget. Try to get as much information about a program before you sign up for it to make the best decision for your future.
Decide On Your Degree
There are several options for pursuing a nursing career. Understanding the different nursing degrees and certifications, like BLS certification, can help you decide which is best for you.
Depending on the program you choose and your career goals, you may be able to earn your associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, or even doctorate in nursing.
A certified nursing assistant diploma (CNA) is a popular option for those interested in becoming a nurse aide. The program requires four to twelve weeks of training and teaches skills like taking vitals, applying bandages, and transferring patients.
A licensed practical nurse (LPN) earns the title after completing a practical nursing diploma that prepares graduates to work in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. In the program, you’ll learn to give injections, prepare medications, and assist with the patient’s vital functions.
Earning an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing is a step from these programs to becoming a registered nurse (RN). This degree provides a greater depth of knowledge for those who want to pursue a career in nursing.
A master of science in nursing (MSN) or doctor of nursing practice (DNP) is a standard option for students who want a career as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).
APRNs can choose from several professions, including nurse anesthetists and nurse practitioners. The curriculum includes anatomy and physiology and how to care for special populations like pediatrics, geriatrics, and oncology patients.
A doctorate of nursing practice is a terminal degree that signifies the highest level of education a nurse can receive. Doctoral students often choose to specialize in research or publishing to become academics in their nursing field.
Research the Nursing Field
The more you know about the nursing field and the work you’ll do, the easier it will be to prepare. Researching your field is a great way to prepare for what’s ahead. Learn more about its educational requirements, available positions within specialties, salary ranges, job growth statistics, and even projected job openings by state.
You can venture into business using your nursing degree, transition into research and development, or use your skills in the field to open a private practice.
For example, you can start a wellness center or career coaching business to help other nurses market their skills. You can also provide patient care in a career as a childbirth doula or a hospice caregiver.
Freelance writing and blogging can be lucrative options for nurses. Write articles, blog posts, or produce content that serves medical communities and provides quality content while pursuing your career.
Deciding on a path early on will help you get the most out of your education.
A nursing program is not for the faint of heart. There is a lot of information to learn, and depending on your degree, it can take between two and six years to graduate.
To get started in a nursing curriculum, you’ll need a strong foundation in the liberal arts. Depending on your nursing degree, you may be required to complete general education classes like English composition and mathematics.
Your program may require sociology or social work classes depending on where you plan to work with your nursing degree and the population you want to care for.
Most nursing programs require a resume, a letter of intent (LOI), a GPA of 2.0-2.5, and a letter of recommendation from a nursing professional. Some require fluency in medical terminology and may interview you.
We recommend taking your prerequisites at the same school as your nursing program. Many schools allow you to use credits you earned to substitute for the general education courses required in their curriculum, streamlining your path to graduation and saving money on tuition costs.
Complete Your Nursing Program
Once you get in, learn the foundational skills of your nursing program. Do the readings and labs, get to know your classmates, and ask your instructors questions.
Master the material you’re learning in class and try to score high on your tests. You can study with practice exams, flashcards, or by taking additional courses that cover the same material.
You can also work as a nursing assistant or an aide to gain real-world experience while earning credits toward your degree.
If you miss deadlines and don’t complete your coursework, you’ll lose your scholarships. To avoid this, keep a schedule of your assignments and deadlines to stay on track.
Choose a nursing internship that fits your interests and schedule with the school’s nurse coordinator to learn more about their clinical experience requirements.
During clinical, you’ll observe nurses implement their knowledge base during patient care in a clinical setting like a hospital or an outpatient clinic. Monitor first-hand the care of patients with your clinical supervisor and take notes about what works and what could be improved.
After you finish your internship, ask your professor which nursing practices are best. Use that knowledge to make recommendations on how to help patients improve their health outcomes when you’re in a leadership role.
Obtain Your License and Credentials
Depending on your nursing specialty, you may be required to obtain a license or certification.
The state’s board of nursing must license you for practice. For example, you must register with the Arizona State Board of Nursing to work as a registered nurse in that state.
Once you’ve acquired these credentials, you’re ready to start your nursing career. Find the proper role for you and dive in.
As a registered nurse, you take an oath to uphold the laws and ethical standards of nursing. Strict professional and legal measures, including the confidentiality of patient information, bind you.
Lastly, as a member of the profession, you become part of an organization that offers insurance and benefits for nurse professionals that include retirement plans, healthcare coverage, and more.
Find a Mentor
As you transition into nursing, having a mentor is your best starting point. For many nurses, finding a mentor is a massive part of the transition from an entry-level nurse to an experienced, more seasoned professional.
Whether it’s someone you’ve met in the field or a nurse who works at your hospital or clinic, they can help you navigate new challenges and provide guidance.
Your mentor will help you navigate your new career, advise you on strategies for success, and connect you to professionals in your field. They can also help you secure career opportunities that may not be obvious.
Continue To Learn
As a nurse, you have to keep up with new developments in the field. You can attend professional conferences, workshops, and continuing education courses. Try to educate yourself with new research or tools that can help you improve your care.
Online resources like nursing conferences, BLS certification courses, and e-learning modules are readily available for knowledge seekers. These sources can help you learn about new treatments for chronic diseases, new procedures, and more.
See what courses are mandatory in your state and continue to learn and grow. Then, you can transition into new roles with your existing knowledge base.
As you transition from an entry-level nurse to a nursing leader, you’ll be successful with the right attitude, a strong work ethic, and community support. The key is surrounding yourself with nurses on the same career path and researching your options.