If you have always had the desire to care for others and make a difference in society, nursing may be a suitable career path for you. Nursing is one of the largest and most essential divisions of the healthcare sector, and this isn’t about to change any time soon. Knowing how to get into the industry can be difficult without guidance, as you won’t know which steps to take to set you in the right direction. To help aspiring nurses get onto the career ladder, we’ve put together a short guide with some useful tips on how to achieve their professional goals.
Find the right path
While you already have the idea in mind to become a nurse, you may not realize that there are many specialist areas that you’ll need to research to help you decide which field will suit your interests and goals. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the vast scale of sectors in nursing, so it would be a good idea to make a list of the pros and cons of each, and determine which are more closely linked to your aspirations.
Perhaps you’d prefer to care on a general ward for a wide range of patients, or maybe you are more interested in working with the elderly or children? Before you can make any decisions on how to progress, you’ll need to ask yourself several questions based on the type of patients you’d like to work with, your desired workplace environment, and your ideal daily schedule.
Get the relevant qualifications
You’ll need to be educated to at least a bachelor degree level to become a nurse. It would be well worth checking current job advertisements and getting familiar with the average qualifications that you’ll need for the role. Some roles may require you to have niche training, while others may be more open to general nursing qualifications. Many courses can be studied from home, so you can fit your studies around your current employment. An MSN FNP online program will teach you industry-related skills such as family practice, research, and leadership which are some basic requirements of any nursing career.
Most nursing positions require the individual to have had some prior experience before applying for their first job. While this may initially seem impossible, there are many unpaid avenues that you can enquire about to get your foot in the door.
Volunteering is an ideal way of getting the experience you need to get into a nursing degree course. Providing you have some form of expertise with the healthcare industry, it doesn’t necessarily have to be nursing related. What’s more, this placement will also give you a bit more information on whether nursing is definitely for you. You’ll get a real insight into what the job entails while allowing you to discover more about what you’re looking for in a job. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you enjoy working individually or as part of a team?
- Do you enjoy dealing directly with patients or working behind the scenes?
- Did you feel fulfilled or unmotivated after your shift ended?
- Could you do this on a daily basis?
Be open to relocating
The best nursing jobs may not be right on your doorstep, therefore, don’t close off to the idea of relocation. After browsing for jobs online, you may discover that most positions are advertised in large city hospitals in the most populated states, rather than in remote towns with fewer residents. In this case, you may need to consider whether it’s a viable option to transfer states in order to get your nursing career started. Some states may pay higher salaries than others, which is also an important consideration when deciding where you’d like to move to.
It is always a good call to grow your network and connect with both current or past professionals in the world of healthcare. Joining a professional network such as the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing (AAACN) is a great way to meet new people who will be willing to offer support and career advice when you are first starting out in the profession.
Using the social media platform, LinkedIn is another valuable approach to connect with nursing students and professionals. By taking the time to build relationships with others, those who you connect with may be keen to chat and advise you on how to progress. They may also be willing to inform you of any job openings that they become aware of.
Prepare for interviews
Regardless of the profession, everyone needs to know how to perform in an interview. As you begin to search for positions and make a note of those that cater to your interests, you’ll need to practice how you’re going to sell yourself, based on the job requirements. Some of the most common questions that you’re likely to be asked during a nursing interview include:
- Why are you interested in a career in nursing?
- How do you handle stress?
- What type of experience have you had?
- How do you cope when working as a team?
- If a patient wasn’t pleased with the level of care they received, what would you do to resolve the situation?
Work with a recruiter
It’s not always possible to find jobs on your own; which is where a recruiter may come in useful. Having this form of assistance will eliminate a lot of worries about finding the relevant jobs and then catching the employer’s attention with your résumé. Recruiters will work with you to find positions that suit your skillset, qualifications, and experience. They may also be able to assist with other aspects such as improving your résumé and boosting your interview skills.
The journey of becoming a nurse may take a great deal of effort and several years of hard study, but you will certainly reap the rewards when you finally get where you want to be. The above tips should come in useful for getting onto the nursing career route and will give you a useful reference when you’re unsure of which way to turn next.