Deciding to become a nurse can be a big step towards your future career and it is a very noble profession to embark on. In this role you are actively helping your local community and this is a wonderful way to contribute to society and be a positive role model for others. This career is rewarding not only for the people you help and meet along the way, but also because this is a challenging career that requires you to develop specific skills. It can also help you learn new things about yourself and become more resilient, while providing job stability and career opportunities.
For all of these reasons and more, it’s easy to understand why people are interested in a career in nursing, but before you can officially work in this role, you must complete your nursing degree and pass the licensing exam. This is the first step in your nursing career and if you are about to start nursing school, here are some tips and advice to help you survive the next few years.
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Good organization is the be-all and end-all, both in your studies and in your professional life, if everything is to run as smoothly as possible. Any degree requires its students to manage their time effectively and keep records of their courses, deadlines, etc., but a nursing degree challenges this more than some other subjects. This is because there is a lot to cover when it comes to medical subjects and you need to balance both your theory and more academic assignments with your practical exams and experience. If you want to keep yourself in a comfortable position throughout your nursing career, good organization is key – so try to improve these general skills if you haven’t been particularly good at them before. Find a system that works for you so you can keep track of all your assignments and study time while managing your internships.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Sometimes it can be a little intimidating to say something when you don’t understand something, or when you’re afraid to ask a stupid question. Well, there are no such thing as stupid questions, and it’s far better to ask for clarification when you’re feeling unsure than to let this opportunity pass you by. This applies to all subjects, but when it comes to medicine and patient care, you pay even more attention to understanding what is being discussed in class and in the internship. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re unsure about something, although you may need to take your tutor or the nurse shadowing you aside to discuss it privately if you prefer. It will make you feel a lot better and can also build your self-confidence this way.
Be open to feedback
You should also ensure that you remain open to feedback throughout your nursing studies. This is also useful in the first few years of work as a nursing specialist. While it’s sometimes difficult to hear criticism of your work, remember not to take it personally and instead use this information to improve your performance. Your tutors and nurses, who are in charge of your training, pay attention to your strengths and weaknesses so that you become the best nurse you can be. So, even if this feedback occasionally disappoints you, embrace it and consider how you can use this to become a better caregiver.
Choose the right course for you
Another thing to keep in mind if you want to get the most out of your nursing degree is to make sure you’ve chosen the right program for you. All nursing degrees cover the same subjects, but if you’re trying to balance a job or other commitments around your studies, you may find that studying part-time or online might be a better approach to your studies. The online degrees at Holy Family University are a good example of this. You need to shop around to ensure you choose the right level of nursing for your needs as this will make it easier for you to focus on your studies and make the most of the experience. If you’re not sure which program is right for you, talk to other caregivers you may know or ask on nursing forums for recommendations.
Find a mentor
You may also want to find a mentor during your nursing studies who can support you during your studies and give you important feedback. Nursing schools and hospitals typically run mentoring programs, so ask about them at the beginning of your course to learn more about the potential opportunities you can take advantage of. In addition to helping you throughout your nursing education, mentors may be willing to provide you with references if you apply for nursing positions after you graduate. They can also give you tips and guidance on how to prepare for your license exams after you graduate, as well as other advice on how to master your studies and what to do after you graduate.
Make sure you take care of yourself
Studying to be a nurse can be very stressful, especially if you are also starting your internship. It can be easy to find yourself struggling to keep up with the demands of your studies and assignments, so it’s important to make sure you’re taking care of yourself properly. This includes getting enough sleep each night (as tempting as those late-night study sessions may be), eating well, and exercising regularly to boost your mood and energy levels. You should also make sure you take some time to unwind, whether it’s curling up with a good book or spending time with your family and friends. This balanced lifestyle will help reduce the risk of burnout and will make you feel more positive about passing your nursing degree.
Make friends on your course
You may be focused on getting your nursing degree so you can start working in healthcare, but it’s wise to make some friends in your degree program as well. You won’t necessarily get along with everyone, but having a person or two that you enjoy spending time with can make a world of difference to your learning experience. Not only will you be more positive about taking classes etc., but you will be able to support each other throughout your studies, helping each other learn and even supporting each other emotionally when the going gets tough. You may even find that these friendships continue years after you graduate, and you might even become future colleagues. Either way, making some friends in your nursing degree can improve your overall experience for you.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
It’s good to stay motivated and to challenge yourself, but you should also remember to leave room for error. Putting too much pressure on yourself to get a certain grade on an assignment or exam can often be counterproductive, and you need to give yourself space to grow during this experience. If you’re disappointed with a grade, see it positively instead and learn from the feedback you get. You may even need to repeat a grade at some point in your degree, and that’s okay too. A nursing degree is a lot to balance and you won’t be the first nursing student to have had to do it, and you certainly won’t be the last.
Remind yourself why you chose nursing
During your studies there will be times when you may feel upset and consider whether you want to continue your studies or not. It’s not uncommon for nursing students to feel this way, but it’s why you should remember why you chose a nursing career in the first place. Coming back to what drives your passion for the job can help you stay motivated through even the most difficult periods of your studies, so keep that in mind. You may find that writing it down in a journal or on a piece of paper to stick on your wall helps you stay motivated.
When you’re ready to begin your journey to becoming a professional caregiver, getting into a degree is the first step. Use these tips to find a way to weather the ups and downs of your nursing degree so you can move on to the next phase in your career.