What I Wish I Knew Before Becoming a Nurse

Written by: 
Daymar College

Ready to become a nurse? Interested to know what a nurse does, ready to learn about nursing specialties, where a nurse can work, and the skills that are needed to become a successful nurse? Becoming a nurse is a rewarding way to help others in their time of need.

What a Nurse Does on a Day-To-Day Basis

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members. After becoming a registered nurse, you will typically do the following on a day-to-day basis:

·         Record patients’ medical histories and symptoms

·         Administer patients’ medicines and medical treatments

·         Set up or contribute to plans for patients’ care

·         Observe patients and record the observations on medical charts

·         Consult and collaborate with doctors, nurses, and nursing assistants

·         Operate and monitor medical equipment

·         Help perform diagnostic tests and analyze the patient’s results

·         Teach patients and their families how to manage illnesses or injuries

Nursing Specialties

Some nurses prefer to work in special areas of medicine or at a specific department in a hospital. A few of the nursing specialties include:

Addiction Nurses – nurses that help patients overcome addiction to alcohol, drugs and other addictive substances.

Critical Care Nurses – work in the intensive care unit, providing care to patients with serious and complex injuries that need close observation and treatment.

Neonatology Nurses – work in the maternity ward of a hospital and care for newborn babies.

Rehabilitation Nurses – care for patients with temporary or permanent disabilities.

Where Nurses Work

After becoming a nurse, they will often work in a hospitals physicians’ office, a home healthcare service, and/or nursing care facility. Other nurses work in schools or outpatient clinics. Home health and public health nurses travel to patients’ homes, schools, community centers, and other sites for patient outreach.

Nurses in Hospitals job duties include taking care of patients, communicating between patients and doctors, and administering medicine. A nurse in a hospital can specialize in emergency medicine, maternity, surgical, and other departments within the hospital.

Nurses in Physician’s Office work with out-patients that can be sick or in perfect health. The nurse in a physician’s office is more likely to educate patients on proper health care and work to prevent injury and illnesses.

Home Healthcare Nurse travel to the patients’ home to administer treatment and medication as the patient is not mobile enough to make it to the doctor’s office. Home healthcare nurses work more with the elderly and physically disabled.

Nurses at Senior Care Facilities help the elderly with health care and treatment for many different ailments including bone loss, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and other illnesses that are more likely to effect patients as they age.

School Nurses create a healthy school environment. They are responsible for checking the physical health of new students and work with students with asthma or ADHD that may require special medication.

Skills to Become a Successful Nurse

There are many different skills a nurse must have to be successful working in a doctor’s office, hospital or long-term care facility. These skills include critical-thinking, communication, compassion, being detail oriented, emotionally stable, having organization skills, and physical stamina.

Critical-Thinking Skills - Nurses must assess changes in the health status of patients, and determine when to take corrective action or make a referral.

Communication Skills - Nurses must be able to communicate effectively with patients in order to understand their concerns and assess their health conditions. Also, nurses need to explain instructions clearly, so good communication skills are important.

Compassion - Nurses should be caring and empathetic when treating patients as many times the patients are in pain or fearful of their condition.

Detail Oriented - Nurses must be detail oriented because they must make sure that patients get the correct treatments and medicines at the right time.

Emotional Stability - Nurses need emotional resilience and the ability to manage their emotions to cope with human suffering, emergencies, and other stresses.

Organizational Skills - Nurses often work with multiple patients with various health needs. Organizational skills are critical to ensure that each patient is given appropriate care.

Physical Stamina - Nurses should be comfortable performing physical tasks, standing for long periods of time and moving patients. A nurse may be on their feet for most of their shift so physical stamina is important to being a nurse.

Nursing Resources

There are many different websites and associations that can help you get a job after completing a nursing degree program and becoming a nurse.

Nurse.com – offers job listings, thousands of courses to fulfill CEUs, and other information that will come in handy while you become a nurse.

Nurse.org – the largest job board dedicated to becoming a nurse.

American Nurses Association (ANA) – offers membership to receive nursing research and resources. The ANA supports members with professional development and advocacy while representing all specialties, clinical settings and work environments.

National Student Nurses Associations (NSNA) – helps nursing students with membership opportunities to develop professionally, participate in member activities, attending annual meetings and apply for nursing scholarships while becoming a nurse.

American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) – a nonprofit association that holds members to the highest standards, making them accountability, innovative, collaborative and leaders in the industry.

If you're interested in becoming a nurse, Daymar College has the Nursing Degree program for you. Our Associate of Science degree in Nursing is designed to provide the foundation for beginning the practice of professional nursing. As a successful graduate with a nursing degree, you may be prepared to work as a beginning professional nurse in hospitals, physicians' offices, nursing and residential facilities, and home health care centers. Daymar College Associate of Science in Nursing Program has approved status from the Kentucky Board of Nursing. The Kentucky Board of Nursing website contains further information related to nursing education in Kentucky.