6 Signs You Have What It Takes to Major in Nursing
Looking to shake things up and move on from your current job? If so, you’ve probably heard a lot of good things about a nursing career. But there’s a big difference between considering a nursing career and actually taking the steps needed to start one. After all, you’ve got a lot going on in your life to balance without majoring in Nursing, so it’s only natural to be a little worried about whether you can handle it.
Rest assured—our tendency is to fall into unnecessary anxiety about the unknown. Let us alleviate the uncertainty and clarify what it takes to major in nursing. We asked the experts and compiled this list of signs you have what it takes to major in nursing and one day become the care provider you were born to be.
Consider majoring in nursing if…
1. You’re flexible
If you have kids at home, you know firsthand how even the best laid plans can get turned upside down in a hurry. The upside is that your experience dealing with these small scale calamities and last second changes in plans actually applies to nursing really well.
“With clinical rotations, you can plan as much as possible the day before, but things will rarely end up as you plan. There are a lot of unexpected things that happen in the hospital environment,” says Sarah Klinghagen, a pediatric nurse at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital.
She emphasizes keeping an open mind as new policies and current research define the medical field. Nursing students need to be flexible when it comes to implementing these policies and staying current with new research.
2. You persevere through challenges
Are you good at bouncing back from setbacks? Or love taking on the challenge of tackling an ambitious goal? That sense of determination can be a valuable asset for any nursing student.
Klinghagen says that the most difficult part of majoring in nursing was balancing the effort needed for completing rigorous nursing school curriculum and completing the required hours of clinicals. Not only is it important to stay on top of your studying to pass your classes, it is equally crucial you are present to your patients as a student nurse.
3. You go the extra mile
“As a student nurse, you have less of a patient load and are able to focus more time on individual patients than the staff nurses are able to,” Klinghagen says. “That can be meaningful to an elderly patient that you spend a little extra time with or a child who didn’t have family with them that day.”
She explains that using your time to connect with patients on a deeper level can be a valuable experience. Nursing students who go above and beyond the basic expectations of following patient interaction procedures also tend to be successful nurses. So if you’re the type to always send “Thank You” cards or go out of your way to do something a little special for your friends and family—embrace it!
4. You are passionate about learning
When your kindergartner excitedly describes the class caterpillar’s transformation into a butterfly, you find yourself also responding enthusiastically. In fact, you spend some extra time finding an online video about the process or some books that explain and illustrate this metamorphosis. You want to share in your child’s discoveries and are curious about new experiences.
“Nurses are passionate people who never stop learning,” says Sarah Pruitt, registered nurse and manager of clinical operations at Advocate Christ Medical Center.
Nursing school takes a passion for learning. The human body is a complex thing, and knowing how to treat and care for it takes a wealth of knowledge—and that wealth of knowledge doesn’t just develop with a snap of your fingers. That means you have to be “all in” when it comes to learning. Natural curiosity and a desire to understand how things work will take you a long way in both nursing school and a nursing career.
5. You are an excellent communicator
Despite myriad modes of communication in this day and age, you don’t bat an eye if a situation calls for an email, a text, a phone call, a face to face conversation or a simple smile and thumbs up. You can make eating broccoli sound like a trip to a theme park in the middle of a difficult dinner with your preschooler, and you respond punctually to emails at the office.
While it is certainly important for nurses to know facts about various illnesses, symptoms and surgical procedures, a nurse will not get very far without proper bedside manners. Nursing school is a perfect place to practice giving your full attention to a patient while listening to their concerns. Nurses who invest time making that personal connection will feel much more fulfilled in their careers, and their patients will be more at ease in uncomfortable situations.
6. You see the bright spots
After a day of grouchy coworkers, toddler tantrums and generally lousy luck are you able to keep your chin up and enjoy what went well? Your ability to remain positive in the face of setbacks is a huge part of being a nursing student. You’ll make mistakes and have days where you feel like you just can’t get it right—the key is your ability to let it go and build off of what went well.
Klinghagen describes the path to a nursing degree as a roller coaster of emotions, often not anticipated by most people. The ability to remain optimistic and find the bright spots when negative emotions begin to take hold is crucial to success.
Are you equipped to major in Nursing?
“The most rewarding part of my nursing career has been the relationships with long-term patients. I have been able to see children diagnosed with life threatening illnesses go on to live healthy lives,” Klinghagen says. “It is a career in which you can truly make a difference.”
It’s clear that nursing is a rewarding yet challenging profession. That challenge doesn’t mean you can’t make it, though—it just means you need to have the right mentality for handling the challenges of the field.
If you think you’ve got what it takes to major in Nursing, you’ll want to check out our article, “Your Step-by-Step Guide to Getting into Nursing School.”