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Do I have what it takes to succeed in Nursing?

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Hurricane Hurricane (New) New Pre-Student

Hi - strongly considering a career change into nursing. I am in my early 30’s. Looking around on here it sounds like the 1st year after graduation can really destroy people. Even those who did well in school and interviewed well. When I put my mind to something, I can excel in school and do well in interviews. That’s not to say I’ve been a rockstar at every job I’ve had!

Is there something about certain new nurses that made them destined to be a dud on the job, despite being one of your most promising new hires? If there are things like that I would like to know, so I can look at myself honestly and either work to improve myself, or realize that it’s just not compatible with me - before embarking on this long and challenging commitment of becoming a nurse!

Are there any aptitude tests (or personality tests) that I could take prior to deciding to start my nursing education?

I’ve been doing research on this and most places are very clear on the “what it takes” part - and I feel like I’ve got most of that. But what are some “fatal flaws” that once promising new grads have, that caused them to fall on their face in their first year of work, and have to give up the career? (Or is it seriously just a matter of Hospital X is poorly managed/ICU a poor fit but Med Surge was great). (FWIW, my intention would be to pursue schooling and career locally, and I live in a midsize city dominated by two major hospital systems that hire probably 90% of nurses).

I am really excited to be exploring this opportunity at this time, but I also shudder at the thought that I could undertake this huge commitment to be a square peg in a round hole and have to start over all over again.

There’s no test that’ll determine if nursing is a good fit. There are millions of nurses in the you.S., so there is no one “typical” nurse that you can judge yourself against. The same qualities that might make you a fantastic hospice nurse, for example, might make you miserable in the ICU. Therefore, just about anybody can succeed in nursing. It’s more of finding the right fit.

However, you need to take a wider view of nursing. I guarantee you that 90% of nurses do not work in hospitals in your city. There are many, many other areas. In fact, more than half of nurses do NOT work in a hospital. You can look at clinics, dialysis, infusion, public health, nursing homes, rehab facilities, home care, case management, education, correctional facilities, telehealth...and many, many more.

Hoosier_RN, MSN

Specializes in dialysis. Has 28 years experience.

Also, look at the real market for new grads in your location. There is a shortage of experienced nurses, an oversaturation of new grads in many areas. Are you willing to move to another area of the country for that first job if need be? Look under the Career tab on here and First Year to see some if the issues that you may face. Good luck with your decision!

Edited by Hoosier_RN

NICU Guy, BSN, RN

Specializes in NICU. Has 6 years experience.

The first and most important step you took to have a good journey as a nurse was to become a member of this site. Some of the members have been nurses for 10-40 yrs and have a lot of wisdom to pass down to the newbies (baby nurses). Some members post their years of experience in their header. In addition, you can tell how active of members they are by their Level number in their header.

The first thing you need to figure out is your perception of being a nurse. If you look at nursing as a job/career/profession, you will do well in nursing. If you believe that nursing is your calling, as if the ghost of Florence Nightingale floated above your bed at night and told you to be a nurse, you will get burned out quickly.

Once you graduate from nursing school, realize that there are hundreds of different areas to go into. Regardless of your personality, there is bound to be an area that will suit your personality and interests. If your first position doesn't work out, seek out a different area of nursing or a different hospital.

Once you start your first job, you are ultimately responsible for how your orientation proceeds. If you have an open mind and absorb everything your preceptor teaches you, you will do well. If you have the "I already learned this in nursing school" or "that is not the way I learned it in school", then you will have a difficult time. There are also poor preceptors. Just because they have been a nurse since white dresses and caps, does not automatically make them good preceptors. If you do not mesh with your preceptor, ask for a new one.

Learn the difference between constructive criticism and bullying (commonly known as NETY- Nurses Eating Their Young).

6 hours ago, beekee said:However, you need to take a wider view of nursing. I guarantee you that 90% of nurses do not work in hospitals in your city. There are many, many other areas.

-I suppose I should have clarified, what I meant by this is I think about 90% of nursing jobs are with two major hospital systems (employers) in our area.

I appreciate also the perspective that there is more than one “good fit”. And that it’s not a career death sentence if the first one doesn’t work out!

EDNURSE20, BSN

Specializes in ED, med-surg, peri op. Has 4 years experience.

I think this site is not an accurate source of information. This is typically where nurses come to complain and offload, or talk about there issues. Ofcourse looking at this site would make you worry.

my first year of practice was actually pretty good. Yes I had my ups and down, and learned a lot. But I no where near the things I heard on this site (cry, anxiety, Feeling like I can’t be nurse ect).

everyone experiences are different. Unfortunately you don’t hear about the good ones. Success as a new nurse takes a lot, good manager, good co-workers, good attitude, willingness to learn, ect. Not Just if you were a good student or not.

Christopher McDowell, EMT-P

Specializes in Critical Care.

I will give you the same answer I give people when they ask me if they should become a paramedic. Do you have a why? What is a why? A why is WHY you choose this profession, it is an intimate and personal reason that grows from the core of your being and draws you toward taking up this career. It is the thing that you come back to time and time again when all else, the money, the hours, the pride, the status, have been stripped away. My father died because of a negligent provider, I decided that if I could prevent one single family from going through that then my life would be worthwhile, that is my why. If you have a why you will do great in nursing. If you dont, you will either break under the pressure and workload or become just another jaded nurse that puts in the bare minimum.

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development. Has 10 years experience.

The first year of nursing is tough, pretty much universally, no matter what specialty you go into. However, look how many nurses there are. Most people weather it, grow from it and become wonderful nurses. Here are some things that will help you know if you can hack it.

1. Can you accept that even though you graduated, you are barely qualified for the job? It is humbling and, sometimes, humiliating to make mistakes. The mistakes made as a new nurse require transparency so that we can hope to eliminate any potential of patient harm. Most people prefer their soft underbellies to be hidden from view. The humbling nature of the nursing learning curve is something one has to shore up against.

2. Can you manage your time well?

3. Can you manage anxiety well?

4. Can you put other people's prerogatives on equal footing with you own, without loosing sight of your own?

5. Can you give yourself grace and compassion?

6. Can you take critique/criticism without falling apart, either internally or externally?

7. Can you delegate without feeling guilty?

Nursing is a wonderful career with tremendous value to the public and job security for most. That first year is a loo-loo, but if you get past it, you are on your way. I wish you luck as you evaluate. Know that there are other patient care roles that are also well-paid, very secure and, while having their own stressors, aren't known for being quite as harsh. Don't hesitate to investigate them too.

On 3/3/2020 at 11:42 PM, nznurse93 said:

I think this site is not an accurate source of information. This is typically where nurses come to complain and offload, or talk about there issues. Ofcourse looking at this site would make you worry.

my first year of practice was actually pretty good. Yes I had my ups and down, and learned a lot. But I no where near the things I heard on this site (cry, anxiety, Feeling like I can’t be nurse ect).

everyone experiences are different. Unfortunately you don’t hear about the good ones. Success as a new nurse takes a lot, good manager, good co-workers, good attitude, willingness to learn, ect. Not Just if you were a good student or not.

I agree. My biggest problem my first year, actually first couple weeks was just being really tired after 12s. Oh, and spending too much money after being a poor student. But I worked in a level 2 NICU and there were several of us starting at the same time, everyone else was nice and our preceptor was great. I think while med-surg might be a good place to start if that's your favorite area, or you want to do something where you need that experience, it's also really hard nowadays. If you can make it through school you can make it that first year and beyond, but it's a different mindset for sure.

On 3/3/2020 at 3:44 PM, Hurricane said:

But what are some “fatal flaws” that once promising new grads have, that caused them to fall on their face in their first year of work, and have to give up the career?

Fatal flaws:

- Very poor self-esteem. This is the enemy of success in numerous ways from the ability to communicate effectively to the ability to make good decisions for oneself

- Lackadaisical attitude

- Lack of critical thinking; poor judgment

- Poor understanding of and/or communication with others

On 3/5/2020 at 5:18 AM, JKL33 said:

Fatal flaws:

- Very poor self-esteem. This is the enemy of success in numerous ways from the ability to communicate effectively to the ability to make good decisions for oneself

- Lackadaisical attitude

- Lack of critical thinking; poor judgment

- Poor understanding of and/or communication with others

I would add...

- Not teachable

- Lack of self-perception

-Carelessness/Hurried personality type

-Defensive when receiving feedback

I am halfway through nursing school now and I am doing very well academically. I knew I would, though, b/c I've always been good at school. The reason I think I'll make a good nurse is b/c I was good in my previous somewhat cut-throat career where people had to be highly organized and think critically in order to succeed.

Being able to think critically is key. I think this is where a lot of new nurses struggle b/c it's hard to learn this in school. It's hard to learn "common sense" while at the same time applying the science and evidence-based practice of nursing.

I am very well aware that nursing school is teaching me about 25% of what I will ultimately need to know and that actually working will teach me the other 75%.

My advice -to answer your question and stop ranting about myself ha- is to ask yourself if you're up for the task. Why do you want to be a nurse? B/c it sounds fun? Pays well? Bad reasons. It won't be worth it if these are your reasons. If you want a challenging career that you won't get bored with -ding ding ding- you're probably a good fit.

TriciaJ, RN

Specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory. Has 40 years experience.

What traits will help you? 1. Willingness to keep learning after graduation 2. Sense of humour, particularly the ability to laugh at yourself 3. Ability to take criticism even when it is not delivered very diplomatically.

What will sink you? 1. Being self absorbed and unwilling to put your own feelings aside. 2. Being flaky and unreliable 3. Being unable to handle feedback 4. Thinking you already know everything and refusing to ask appropriate questions.

The fact that you're already pondering this is a positive sign. Good luck.

CommunityRNBSN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Community health. Has 3 years experience.

On 3/3/2020 at 11:42 PM, nznurse93 said:

I think this site is not an accurate source of information. This is typically where nurses come to complain and offload, or talk about there issues. Ofcourse looking at this site would make you worry.

THIS one hundred percent. Nursing is one of the most populous professions in the country. Really stop and think about all the nurses you've met in real life. Some are smart, some you wonder about.... Some are kind, some are lazy and mean. Honestly, you don't have to have anything in particular to survive as a nurse.

My first year has been really great (I don't work in a hospital). I am successful at it for the same reasons I've been successful in all my jobs. I'm a hard worker, willing to learn, nice to people, not overly sensitive or dramatic. If you have those skills, and you've done well in other jobs, you'll definitely be fine.

Edited by CommunityRNBSN
added detail