I Want to be a Nurse but ...

female nurse helping elderly female patient 

You’ve heard it several times as a parent. “I would’ve cleaned my room, but ... .” or “I was going to do my homework, but ... .”

There’s nothing more frustrating than hearing an excuse and knowing how quickly it will fall apart under scrutiny. Yet when it comes to your own vocational goals and your desire to be a nurse, time and time again you find yourself letting the buts get in the way.

You’re finally ready for a career change so it’s time to truly decide if the nursing field is right for you. Rest assured because we’re here to help you confront your concerns. We enlisted nursing pros to help you determine if your buts are really the roadblocks you think they are.

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I want to be a nurse but …

An aging population has resulted in an increasing need for healthcare, meaning pursuing a nursing career has never been so promising. But before you can confidently take the next step, those pesky fears and nagging concerns have to be addressed and put to rest.

If you find yourself thinking “I want to be a nurse but ...” keep reading to hear what the experts have to say about your worries. You may find there’s nothing to worry about at all!

... I have bad grades

1. Explore your options

Check out bachelor’s (BSN) versus associates (ADN) degree requirements. Most BSN programs require a minimum GPA of 3.0, whereas most ADN programs require somewhere between a 2.0 to 2.75 range.

2. Diversify your experiences

Each program and job posting will place different values on different areas. Never underestimate the power of applicable volunteer experiences, shining references and a compelling essay or cover letter.

3. Focus on what you can control

You can’t control whether subject matter comes to you naturally or not. But you can control how you prioritize your time and effort to stay ahead.

“It is a virtuous tradition of nursing students to fervently complain about how difficult nursing school is,” says Nick Angelis, CRNA, MSN and author. He believes that a hard worker who knows how to prioritize his or her time actually has more potential in nursing school than a smart student with a photographic memory.

“The complexity of the material isn't far beyond other majors. The issue is really time management once clinicals start,” he adds.

... I have tattoos

1. Inform yourself

Tattoos have become so common that nearly one-fourth of Americans have at least one. The medical field is vast, meaning there are more than a few nurses who are inked as well.

Look into your nursing program’s regulations about tattoos as well as the facility where you will do your clinical. Some programs and facilities may require them to be covered. Some programs may be more lenient about your ink, allowing certain ones to be exposed.

2. There's a time & place

Tattoos often times hold personal meaning and make a statement or inspire conversation. Whatever your reason for getting inked, keep in mind that there’s a time and place for flaunting your body art.

Angelis says looking more clean-cut will likely make clinicals easier because a lot of judgment is based on first impressions. But at the end of the day, having a tattoo isn’t going to affect your ability to do your job efficiently.

3. Stay positive

Most careers have professional attire policies. Imagine your banker in a sweat suit or a dentist digging in your mouth without gloves. Every profession has policies, so stay positive and be understanding.

Anne Kolsky is an RN and recalls several of her classmates having tattoos. Her particular program required students to cover their tattoos and remove any body piercings while at the hospitals.

“No one complained. It was just the requirement for the uniform and the professional image we needed to convey,” Kolsky says.

... I’m not good at math

1. Use your resources

Remember to take advantage of all of the resources that modern education and technology affords you. Kolsky admits she’s not a great mathematician but she sought out help from friends and from the tutoring center at her school. 

I had to work twice as hard as most of my younger classmates, but it all paid off,” she adds.

2. Find the right fit

Not all math classes are equal. If you’re not a math whiz, you might be surprised to learn you don’t really need to be. Talk to peers, professors and advisors to find a class that satisfies your requirement without stressing you out.

3. Its part of the job

Any subject can be taken out of context and scrutinized. But when you become a nurse, any math you end up using will just be another part of your daily duties at your job. When you look at it that way, a few equations don’t seem quite so scary.

“The math in nursing is straight forward,” says Angelis. He says modern medical technology allows many tools and techniques to be automated, although you should still know the necessary calculations. “Despite not liking math, I don't have a problem calculating weight based drug doses for each of my patients every day as a nurse anesthetist,” he says.

... I don’t like science

1. Change your perspective

Some things just have to put up with—even if you don’t enjoy them. Working to change your perspective can help you find a purpose that drowns out any petty dislike or preference.

“If you really want to be a nurse, you just have to make up your mind to look at [science] differently and embrace it. You will learn how to use critical thinking and science as the foundation to help you make really sound judgments. Your patients’ life is at stake. Not to mention your future license!”

2. Make learning work for you

Sometimes when you’re comprehending something, you just need to try looking at it differently. Kolsky remembers getting creative when she had to do assignements on different body functions.

“It helped me to learn and not just write another paper,” she explains. “I could ‘see’ the actions of the ATP or the synapses firing.”

3. Find your niche

Think back to why you wanted to become a nurse in the first place. It probably had a lot to do with helping others. Science is just one of many aspects of nursing and it can be intimidating until you find your niche.

Angelis explains that nursing is a blend of several fields. Some students are fascinated with the biology and body chemistry, while others are more interested in the communication and human relations aspect.

“There's room for everyone and nursing school is much more about critical thinking and good judgment calls than dry equations and scientific theories,” Angelis says. He says there will be aspects you won't like, but once you graduate it's easy to find a niche that you love.

Conquer your concerns

These expert insights have shown you that your “buts” may not be the roadblocks you thought they were. What you may be thinking now is, “I want to be a nurse but I don’t know where to start.”

This first step is to qualify yourself with the necessary degree. Click here for your step-by-step guide to getting into nursing school.

About the author

Megan Ruesink

Megan is a freelance writer for Collegis education who writes student-focused articles on behalf of Rasmussen University. She hopes to engage and intrigue current and potential students.

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