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What Advice Would You Give to Future Nurses?

Career Article   (1,186 Views 13 Replies 813 Words)

Maureen Bonatch MSN has 20 years experience and specializes in Leadership | Psychiatric Nursing | Education.

8 Followers; 39 Articles; 13,573 Profile Views; 73 Posts

Career Advice for Future Nurses

The need for more nurses continues to increase as the nursing shortage doesn’t show signs of abating. Although issues of short-staffing, bullying and compensation continue to remain at the forefront of nursing. We each have a reason that leads us to go into the nursing profession, but over the years sometimes that reason fades as the shiny image we had of the career tarnishes. So what do we say when someone asks about going into the nursing profession?

What Advice Would You Give to Future Nurses?

The news is often overflowing with articles about nurse burnout, bullying, staff shortages, and questionable compensation. You may have experienced some, or all, of these issues yourself during your nursing career. Maybe enough to make you wonder why you went into nursing in the first place. This may make it difficult to come up with a positive response when someone asks you, “Do you think I should go into nursing?”

The issues of inadequate staffing and the significant number of nurses reaching retirement age are a common concern of the nurses today. A continuing influx of nurses into the profession is required to help reduce these staffing issues. Although with a significant number of nurses leaving the profession, it can be helpful to provide advice that is more practical, rather than personal, for someone considering a career in nursing. 

Don’t Be a Dream Crusher

Complaining comes as a natural response to most people, some so much that it’s become a habit. We might not think twice about unburdening all the unsavory things about being a nurse on a willing listener to feel validated. Even if your complaints are justified, this can paint a negative image of the nursing profession. It may potentially deter future nurses before they determine if nursing is a good career choice. 

Even if it feels like the bad aspects of the job are outweighing the good, consider that the positive benefits of nursing are probably what led you to the profession, and made you stay. 

Provide Practical Advice

The profession of nursing continues to be an attractive, growing, career option. One that’s held in high regard and respect by many who consider it the most honest and ethical profession. With an awareness of the challenges that can accompany a nursing career, explain what you feel might be a few key characteristics of a good nurse. That way they can determine if a nursing career would work well for them based on their career goals, personal strengths, weaknesses and their personal life. 

What Are Some Characteristics of a Good Nurse?

  • Flexibility: Nurses work holidays, weekends and with varying schedules. Sometimes there may be several different shifts in one week or extended hours during one day. 
  • Empathy: Nurses must draw upon empathy when caring for patients at their most vulnerable times, or dealing with the challenges of patients that have different views, beliefs or are just difficult to care for.
  • Compassion- Providing compassionate care is at the heart of nursing, no matter what the specialty.
  • Physical endurance- Long shifts spent on your feet providing physical care for patients can take a physical toll, so recommend that they consider their personal tolerance and physical limitations.
  • Attention to detail- Accurate documentation and having a discerning eye to notice changes in patient conditions is essential to provide quality patient care.
  • Excellent Communicator- Nurses work with an increasing variety of disciplines, cultures, and in diverse environments. This requires strong verbal and nonverbal communication skills.
  • Lifelong learner- Healthcare is continuously changing through the use of technology. This increases demands on nurses to continue learning to keep their skills relevant. 
  • Emotional stability- The demands of nursing can be stressful, so positive coping mechanisms, prioritizing self-care, and the ability to recognize and address signs of burnout are important.
  • Organized- Stellar organization skills are helpful to juggle the varied demands of a nurse’s usual day and provide quality patient care.

See for Themselves

These key characteristics are shared by many nurses, although each specialty, and different nursing environments, can come with their own positive and negative attributes. It may be challenging to adequately describe a day in the life of a nurse to ensure a future nurse is entering the profession without blinders. A deeper look into the reality of nursing could be achieved for someone who is uncertain if nursing is the right career choice.

What are Some Ways We Can Encourage a Future Nurse?

  • Take an online course 
  • Shadow a nurse to observe a usual day 
  • Become a certified nursing assistant (CNA) to experience providing direct patient care
  • Obtain work in an entry-level job in a healthcare environment

Share Your Wisdom

The nursing profession isn’t for everyone, and ultimately the decision is an individual one, but you can help a potential nurse to make the best decision about their career. Instead of chipping away at the fresh face full of idealistic hopes and dreams, allow their enthusiasm. It just might help you remember why you chose nursing in the first place. 

What Advice Would You Give to a Future Nurse?

Maureen Bonatch MSN, RN draws from years of experience in nursing administration, leadership and psychiatric nursing to write healthcare content. Her work has appeared in numerous health system websites and healthcare journals. Her experience as a fiction author helps her craft engaging and creative content. Learn more about her freelance writing at CharmedType.com and her fiction books at MaureenBonatch.com

8 Followers; 39 Articles; 13,573 Profile Views; 73 Posts

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Hoosier_RN has 20 years experience as a MSN and specializes in LTC, home health, hospice, ICU, ER, dialysis.

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I agree with not being a dream crusher-in the context of totally bashing the job, but anyone taking the plunge needs to know the realities as well. Weekends, nights, and holidays are often, not always, an expectation starting out. Short staffing happens, a lot, but we have good days and bad regardless of staffing. I've read too many posts on this site and other places that the new grad wasn't prepared for the reality, wanted away from the bedside, and not ready to hear that the jobs that they want require nursing experience. I've also personally experienced brand new grads not understand why they aren't making as much as the experienced nurse of 10+ years. But when an experienced nurse tries to educate, we're called mean, dream crushers, etc. 

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Maureen Bonatch MSN has 20 years experience and specializes in Leadership | Psychiatric Nursing | Education.

8 Followers; 39 Articles; 73 Posts; 13,573 Profile Views

Thank you! Hoosier- It is such a careful balance to provide realistic, practical advice, even if doesn't always want to be heard. 

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Lane Therrell FNP, MSN, RN has 6 years experience and specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

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Communication skills top my list of must-haves for aspiring nurses. Specifically face-to-face and on-the-phone interpersonal communication skills. In our time crunched, tech driven, digitally connected world it's tempting to assume we already know everything we need to know about communication, but my experience shows the otherwise. The nurses who are able to to communicate genuinely and authentically with patients are the ones who make the most impact and enjoy their careers the most. 

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I would like to add that not all nurses go into the field thinking they will be Flo.  Sometimes we do it because we need a job, we need to take care of ourselves and be independent, or for many other reasons than just the idealism of nursing.  A decent paycheck is a positive, if you can tolerate the negative aspects of nursing.  Decide if a good paycheck and job security is worth the price you will pay for being a nurse.  I am pragmatic when it comes to these types of things.  I can list the good and the bad because I have lived it.  My advice is to get on AN and read all about nursing.

Even though I am a nurse, I do admire nurses for what they do.  Even if they aren't angels or are just in it for the money.  I mean the things that are required of a nurse is overwhelming, it amazes me people can do it.  Honestly, you do this 12-14 hour work day, 3 times or more a week.  Given so little to do so much.  I respect you for that.  You are one tough cookie.

As far as the qualities to make a good nurse. I would like to add "Tolerance".  Because a nurse must tolerate blood and feces and many types of filth.  That is just one aspect of what you will be expected to tolerate.  There can be excessive amounts of pressure.

The profession has not been all that kind to me.  However, Some nurses have been very fortunate.  The thing is, you can do everything right and there's still the chance that it won't turn out like you hoped.  

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Hoosier_RN has 20 years experience as a MSN and specializes in LTC, home health, hospice, ICU, ER, dialysis.

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3 hours ago, Forest2 said:

The profession has not been all that kind to me.  However, Some nurses have been very fortunate.  The thing is, you can do everything right and there's still the chance that it won't turn out like you hoped.  

Other than a pay issue a while back- I wrote to Nurse Beth- I have been very fortunate in 20+ years.  I wouldn't recommend it to anyone unless I was comfortable in the knowledge that they were fully cognizant of what it entails, both good and bad.  Overall, it is the perfect career for me, and like any other life situation, you're correct, it doesn't always work out fair. I've lived that end of it, as well, but have had a pretty good experience.

My advice to someone considering it: other than the above mentioned, shadow to make sure that it's what you really want.  Life is too short, and school is too expensive, to be miserable after making the wrong choice.  RESEARCH schools, don't just take the guidance counselors word on anything.  The school is in business to make money, first and foremost.  And lastly, keep an open mind...things are not always what they seem.

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Snatchedwig has 11 years experience as a ADN, CNA, LPN, RN and specializes in Medsurg.

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4 hours ago, Forest2 said:

I would like to add that not all nurses go into the field thinking they will be Flo.  Sometimes we do it because we need a job, we need to take care of ourselves and be independent, or for many other reasons than just the idealism of nursing.  A decent paycheck is a positive, if you can tolerate the negative aspects of nursing.  Decide if a good paycheck and job security is worth the price you will pay for being a nurse.  I am pragmatic when it comes to these types of things.  I can list the good and the bad because I have lived it.  My advice is to get on AN and read all about nursing.

Even though I am a nurse, I do admire nurses for what they do.  Even if they aren't angels or are just in it for the money.  I mean the things that are required of a nurse is overwhelming, it amazes me people can do it.  Honestly, you do this 12-14 hour work day, 3 times or more a week.  Given so little to do so much.  I respect you for that.  You are one tough cookie.

As far as the qualities to make a good nurse. I would like to add "Tolerance".  Because a nurse must tolerate blood and feces and many types of filth.  That is just one aspect of what you will be expected to tolerate.  There can be excessive amounts of pressure.

The profession has not been all that kind to me.  However, Some nurses have been very fortunate.  The thing is, you can do everything right and there's still the chance that it won't turn out like you hoped.  

Totally agree on the bolded portion. Best advice is to read all the multitude of information and experiences here from nurses. 

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Lane Therrell FNP, MSN, RN has 6 years experience and specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

7 Followers; 27 Articles; 167 Posts; 11,023 Profile Views

2 hours ago, Hoosier_RN said:

Life is too short, and school is too expensive, to be miserable after making the wrong choice.  RESEARCH schools, don't just take the guidance counselors word on anything.  The school is in business to make money, first and foremost.  And lastly, keep an open mind...things are not always what they seem.

This is the best advice EVER. 

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I agree with life is too short to be miserable. So on that note, find your happy place in nursing. There are sooo many options. You can even make your own place: entrepreneur, writer, negotiations for work-life balance. Be one of those nurses who are optimistic and support pro nursing legislature. 

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Lane Therrell FNP, MSN, RN has 6 years experience and specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

7 Followers; 27 Articles; 167 Posts; 11,023 Profile Views

3 hours ago, DebbieCakes said:

There are sooo many options. You can even make your own place: entrepreneur, writer, negotiations for work-life balance. 

Well said. It's true that my nursing licenses, credentials, and experiences have opened doors for me in writing, business, and academia that would have remained closed to me otherwise. If you have any doubts about whether you'll fit into a traditional nursing job description long term, think outside the box by asking, "What else can I do with a nursing license and credentials?"

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MSO4foru has 10 years experience as a ADN and specializes in Hospice Home Care and Inpatient.

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I agree with Forest2, mostly. My job provides my family with a nice and steady income. I am telling people who enter the field to do so cautiously.  I think we are in a dangerous time for nurses- more and more community owned hospitals are being bought by large corporations which ( if I understand current predictions correctly) will result in all US hospitals being owned by one of about 8 systems within the next 10-15 years. That would mean many current issues posted here would become the ' norm'. ICU nurses having 3-4 pts, floor nurses routinely taking 2-3 more pts above expected ratios..... as a nurse You are responsible for assignment you take, no matter why you took it. Corporations are all too happy to throw us nurses under the bus. 

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Nursing kept a roof over our heads and our bellies full.  I am grateful for that.  It was a lot of fun sometimes.  I often felt that I made a positive difference in folks' lives.

Other times, it wasn't so great.  It depends a lot on your attitude, your bosses, and your coworkers.

Like being a fire fighter, construction worker, cop, or other role that requires lots of physical action, dealing with people who might not be at their best, and shift work, Nursing is a young person's field.  

It depends where you work, too.  Non-clinical positions are easier physically than direct care.

No, we should not crush dreams, but if anyone asks me, I will tell them the nitty gritty, good and bad - like evil, vicious, backstabbing, gossiping coworkers.  Broken or missing equipment, lack of supplies, no breaks, etc.

Then there are the sweet, hardworking coworkers and the well-staffed, well-stocked settings that even value your input and encourage professional growth.  It just all depends.

Edited by Kooky Korky

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