Nursing is an exciting industry that is full of hidden potential. Unlocking your professional potential, as well as being in a position to assist and help others is what you can expect to achieve within your nursing career. Pursuing a second career as a nurse can feel intimidating, especially if you have had a successful first career. However, alleviating and releasing these feelings of being overwhelmed will ensure that you get the most out of your nursing career. So, to alleviate doubts, concerns, and worries, what do you need to consider?
Why A Nursing Career is Right for You
You may know that you want to train and qualify as a nurse, but have you stopped to think about why? What is driving you, and what is driving your career choice. When you can establish why nursing is right for you, then you can get direction. Direction is important for your career and your success. So, is a nursing career right for you because you want to care for others? Do you want to make an impact on your community? Or are you looking to raise the standards within the healthcare and nursing industry? Taking some time out to find out why nursing is right for you is crucial.
It is never too late to make a change, and quite often, you will find that your life (and work) experience will be beneficial to your new career. Your experience can be directly applied to your new role, and it can help to shape who you are as a nurse. Your life and work experience can also help you see things from a different perspective too. This could be through the perspective of a patient or perhaps of a team member you are working with. When you are starting your second career as a nurse, you need to realize you are not starting from scratch. Your experience is valuable and it will be useful.
What You Need to Think About – Specialism
You know that you want to be a nurse, but have you thought about what specialism you wish to train in. There are lots of areas and specialisms within which you can work. Choosing a specialism or area of focus can help to alleviate worries and concerns, and it can give you more clarity and direction. If you know what you want to achieve within your career as a nurse, then you can start focusing on the positive elements (instead of focusing on the negative aspects). When you are choosing a specialism, it helps to think about what you enjoy. For instance, if you enjoy working with the elderly, then have you thought about senior care or end-of-life care? When you are working in an area that you are passionate about, you will find the transition into nursing that much easier.
What You Should Know – Day to Day Nursing
You know that you want to be a nurse, and that is great. However, have you thought about what being a nurse entails? You know that you want to look after and care for patients, and this is an essential part of the job. However, have you thought about the daily toll nursing could take on you and on your body? Have you thought about the emotional challenges you may face? Nursing can and will be challenging, and there will be days when it is beyond exhausting, and this is something that you have to accept and live with. You need to know that not every day will be as positive, or as productive as you would like it to be. Nursing is mentally and physically draining, and it is a career that requires 100% of your time and your energy. When you are aware of what is involved with nursing, you can then start to prepare yourself, and ensure you do not burn out in those first few crucial weeks and months.
The Benefits of a Nursing Career
A nursing career will offer you benefits that you may not have even considered before. For example, you may be financially better off than you were in a previous career or you may feel more satisfied and rewarded within your role. Weighing up the advantages and benefits of a nursing career can help you maintain the fire and desire that pushes you. When times are tough and when it all feels too much, you will need to reflect on these benefits. A benefit or advantage that you may not have thought about before is respect. Respect counts for a lot, and when you feel respected within your role, you will work harder, and you will give your best at all times. Respect can be found in a nursing career (at any stage) and it is something you may not have experienced before.
Focusing Your Attention on Your Education
Your level of education and your ability will play an important role in your new nursing career, and your education should always be important. If you do not focus your attention on your education, you will struggle to get the results you need to pass and get incensed as a nurse – which of course means you will be unable to practice. Within nursing, your education is lifelong, it is not something that you just do to get a nursing role and then forget about it. Training, development, and education will play a key part in your nursing role, so the sooner that you can embrace them, the more benefits you will get.
Choosing The Right Degree
To get the nursing career you deserve and want, you have to choose the right degree. The degree that you focus on has to be highly relevant and focused on nursing and healthcare. If you already have a degree to your name, you may be able to look at undertaking an accelerated program. An accelerated program will allow you to get a relevant nursing degree in just a couple of short years. Where you study is just as important as what you study, and you need to establish what you are getting from a provider. You need a provider that is invested in you, your future, and your development. If you are not supported or guided, you may struggle to get the most out of your studies.
An essential step you have to take to become a nurse is to go through the process of licensing. You have to be fully licensed by the state that you wish to practice in. If you do not have a license to practice, you will not be able to put your knowledge into use as a nurse. Getting licensed and passing your exams does not have to be difficult, especially if you choose a supportive provider to study with. If you are studying in one state, but you wish to work in another state, then you need to make sure you meet the license requirements. Requirements for licensing do not vary hugely, but they can vary from state, and you must be aware of what your obligations are.
Focusing on Gaining Experience
Experience within nursing is just as important as suitable qualifications. The more experience that you can get, then the more informed you will be about future decisions for you and your career. Experience can help you see if a specialism is right for you or not. It can also help you see what you are getting out of a role and, of course, what you are giving to others as part of your role. You can gain experience in several ways. You could look at taking up unpaid placements while you are studying. You could also look at traveling and offering your services as a travel nurse. When you focus on building and gaining experience, you focus on providing the best care and support that you can. When you are searching and applying for work placements, you need to think about what you are going to get out of each opportunity. Yes, some placements may require additional travel or additional time commitment, but what advantages are they going to give you and your blossoming career?
Finding a Suitable Opportunity
Once you have focused on building your experience, you are then in a position to find a suitable opportunity for full-time work. When you are finding an opportunity, you have to use your connections and you have to think about what you want. Jumping at the first opportunity that presents itself is not always the best way to proceed. Instead, calculating your moves, and thinking about how beneficial a post will be before snapping it up, will often work better for you. To ensure that an opportunity is suitable for you, then you must think about what you are gaining and what you are learning. If an opportunity does not inspire you, push you, or even help you grow – then what is it giving you? Creating an awesome nursing resume will also help you to land those positions that are well suited to you.
Growing and Developing
When you are starting your nursing career, you must always focus on growth and development where you can. You want to be the best that you can be and to achieve this, you will need to grow and develop areas of weakness. When you are committed to growth and development, you can ensure that you are a true nursing professional. If you are not going to focus your time and effort on growing and developing where you can, then you may not get the most out of your new career, even in those early days. Improving your skill set and improving how you care for others is an important area for all nursing professionals. To successfully grow and develop, you must identify those areas for improvement. Be prepared to be self-critical, and be prepared to accept constructive criticism and feedback. You will not grow and learn if you are not prepared to listen to what other professionals have to say.
Building Your Network
To get your second career off to the best start, you have to focus on building a network. A network of other professionals around you will help you to achieve more. Networking online and offline, as well as meeting other healthcare and nursing professionals is important to your career. You can find new opportunities through networking, and you can also find new areas for growth and development too. To build your network you have to think about what you want to achieve and why. Networking can be difficult and it can be time-consuming, so you must make time to network properly. Commit to networking at least once every 2-3 months. This way you can meet relevant professionals, and you can focus on building high-quality networks. Good nursing professionals (particularly those just starting out) need the support and guidance of others, and this is something that you will get within your network.
Creating a Career Plan for Progression
Even though you are just establishing yourself within your new career, it does not mean that you should not be focusing on the future too. Career progression within nursing is important, and it will help you ensure you realize your full potential. When you are creating a career plan, it is important to think about both short-term ambitions and long-term ones. For example, would you like to be a nurse leader within the next 5 years, and perhaps a senior leader within the next 10? What is important to you and to your career moving forwards? A career plan will ensure that you help as many as possible during your time as a nurse. So, invest in your career plan for progression, as much as you invest in yourself, and your self-development and self-growth.
To truly achieve success within your new nursing career you have to remain dedicated to your profession, and you have to remember why you wanted to be a nurse. There will be challenging times, and there will be times when it feels overwhelming. At these moments reflection and your plans will help you.