When Meghan D’Angelo was a senior in high school, she had the unique opportunity of spending her last two class periods of the day shadowing nurses in various hospital units. Her affinity for science expanded into a passion for nursing once she saw what the career actually entailed.
D’Angelo started noticing signs in her own life that suggested she was ready to channel that passion into a nursing career. Part of her college nursing program allowed her to spend time on a pediatric oncology floor where she was given assignments as though she was already a staff member. Being able to successfully care for her patients while effectively completing all of her other duties made her confident she made the right decision in becoming a nurse.
Today D’Angelo teaches both undergrad and graduate students in the nursing field. Just as she saw indicators in her own life that she was ready to become a nurse, she now sees signs in the lives of her students. Keep reading to learn what she and other healthcare professionals look for in a promising nursing candidate.
You’re ready for a nursing career if …
1. You can prioritize your time
Nursing students and professionals alike are constantly pulled in multiple directions and tasked with several responsibilities. Though the duties keep multiplying, time never does. The ability to prioritize the time you do have is a very important skill and an indicator you are ready for a nursing career.
“When I have a student who can put together the needs of multiple patients using good time management, I know they are ready to go,” says D’Angelo, RN, MSN, CLNC.
2. You are emotionally mature
We all have our down days and freak-outs once in a while. But as a nurse you will need to take the personal stuff you’re dealing with and check it at the door. The best nurses are able to put their patient’s needs first, setting aside their own issues in order to fully focus on their work.
How can you tell if you’re emotionally mature enough to succeed in a nursing career? Working in retail or a restaurant are great ways to reveal if you’re truly able to effectively serve others while under stress, according to Nick Angelis, CRNA and author.
3. You have a passion for improving the health of others
Maybe you’re always sneaking veggies into your homemade pasta sauce for your family, or reading up on new ways to stay fit and avoid illness. If you have a passion for improving health, D’Angelo says that is another telling sign you’re ready to be a nurse.
Though science-smarts and organizational skills are very important, D’Angelo says that having “compassion and a drive to improve the health of whatever population you’re working with” is of high importance for those considering the career.
4. You’re not afraid of healthcare environments
If you’re not bothered by bizarre odors or a bit of blood, that’s an excellent sign you’re cut out to be a nurse. The many unpleasant sights and smells of a hospital can be enough to make the average stomach queasy, but a good nurse isn’t fazed one bit.
However, if you’re one of those people who have a weak stomach you’re not automatically ineligible for a nursing career. Learn more about non-clinical nursing jobs to find more tolerable environments where you can still capitalize on your compassion.
5. You can apply what you’ve learned
Learns in different ways and at different paces. But if you find yourself eager to apply the new things you learn into your everyday life, that’s a good sign you’ll be a successful nurse. Tests in nursing school are notorious for having multiple plausible answers, according to Angelis. He stresses that it’s not all about memorizing information. You’ll know you’re ready for nursing school when you can apply theory to practice and start to understand what the test questions are really asking.
6. You're motivated by making a difference
“More than most other professions, nurses can see the impact of their care manifest right in front of them as patients improve and families are comforted,” says Angelis.
Motivation comes in many forms. Some people are motivated by money, others by prestige and others seek purpose. You likely have multiple inspirations, but if one of them is making a difference in others’ lives, that’s a great sign that you’re on the right track in pursuing a nursing career.
7. You want to be in an industry with solid growth potential
We’ve all heard of friends and family members who have dedicated their life to their work only to lose their job unexpectedly or be demoted to a lower-paying position. In a somewhat shaky economy, you want to be sure you’re pursuing a career in a field that is growing.
It’s expected that nearly 525,000 jobs for registered nurses (RNs) will be added through 2012, growing at a rate of 19 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This is faster than the average for all occupations, which is 11 percent. These numbers indicate there will continue to be plenty of opportunities for those who are qualified.
Are you ready?
Now that some experts have shared exactly what you should be looking for, does it sound like they’re describing you? If so, you’re probably ready to pursue the nursing career you’ve been considering. Learn why there’s no better time than now to become a nurse!
If you’re still unsure if you have what it takes, learn how you can overcome some of the most common concerns associated with becoming a nurse.