Nursing is among the most desired careers around the globe. Of course, it’s not for everyone because it comes with a load of sensitive responsibilities. If you are passionate about giving care to the ill, wounded, aged, or physically challenged, you can make a great nurse. Nursing is for you if taking care of others sounds fulfilling as a career.
But like any other career in the medical field, nursing is highly competitive. Employers in the health industry prefer highly-trained, skilful, and passionate individuals who put the needs of their patients first and their own just next on the line. If you considered becoming a nurse just now or a few years ago, this article is for you. Here is a guide you might find helpful on ways to jumpstart your nursing career.
Get it right in your studies
The first and most important step in becoming a nurse is getting a formal education, preferably to an o-level or secondary school certificate. Especially if you studied and passed biology (and maths) in high school, it becomes easy to pursue a nursing career through a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in nursing. Some common routes you can take to jumpstart your nursing career through your studies include the following:
- Get a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Also referred to as BSN, the bachelor’s of science in nursing degree is a common path for aspiring nurses around the globe. It is highly coveted because, with a BSN, you have higher chances of securing employment, higher salaries, and more challenging responsibilities. It usually takes 3–4 years of coursework plus a pass in the licensing examination before becoming a practising nurse.
- Accelerated nursing programme. If you already have a bachelor’s degree in a different field from nursing, an accelerated nursing program could be worth your while. As revealed in a few accelerated nursing programme guides, it offers a quicker way to earn your BSN degree. Most nursing career aspirants complete the accelerated degree programme in as little as 12–16 months, which is less than half the time it takes to complete the ordinary BSN. In an accelerated study programme, the student studies full-time in a fast-paced and intensive study environment. This comes with more perks than just completing the BSN faster. Apart from showing employers that you can work in a time-sensitive and fast-paced work environment, it also gives you an upper hand over those with nursing associate degrees and related qualifications. Once you’ve gained experience, you’ll have options to continue your education and pursue your Master’s degree or even a BSN to DNP programme which can open many doors and lead to a very fulfilling career.
- Associate’s nursing degree. An associate’s degree is another common option for people who need to earn their nursing practice licences as soon as possible. It usually takes anywhere between two and three years of coursework. Moreover, many people prefer this route because the fees are cheaper. After completing the required coursework, you will be required to sit the national licensure examination and pass. From these, you can apply for the licences and registrations needed to prove you are a registered nurse.
Become a specialist
Once you become a licensed nurse, secure employment, and start practising, you shouldn’t stop there. Choose one among the many specialties of nursing and build on it. Furthermore, getting a nurse specialty comes with a significant pay jump. This will give you a good bearing when it comes to continuing education. Also, specialising gives you a better chance of landing a job at certain medical facilities or with a specialised physician. When choosing a specialisation, don’t forget to follow your passion and get as much information as possible before making your decision.
Maintain a healthy network
Just like in any other field, excelling in a nursing career may require a healthy professional network and connections with multiple individuals in the health industry or medical field. Referrals are a common source of candidates when healthcare institutions are hiring or promoting staff. This is why it pays to have a professional profile on online platforms like LinkedIn. Even providing your work information on your Facebook profile could go a long way in getting you professional connections.
You never know, one or several of your connections could be your key to a better-paying job or more fulfilling career now or in the future. Moreover, some of your connections could help guide you on ways to maximize your potential and excel in your career, which brings us to the next important point.
Find a good mentor
As much as you are a registered nurse, having a mentor comes with so many benefits. They can offer a wealth of guidance in a myriad of situations where you have no clue on what to do. Mentors could also encourage you and advise you on how to handle a bad day at work. They can also help expand your professional network and even vouch for you when you land a better deal in the job market.
If you are a nurse, you have many reasons to pat yourself on the back. If you’re not yet practising, now you know what you need to do from the point of getting started. The above few tips should guide anyone with the will and the urge to jumpstart their nursing career.
Adam Mulligan did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.
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