It’s not uncommon for people to want to change careers at some point in their lives, particularly if they are feeling dissatisfied with their current roles. It can also take some time to figure out what you want to do in life, and some people don’t discover their calling until a later stage. If this sounds familiar to you, and you have realized that you would like to do something that allows you to give back and care for others, then nursing might have already crossed your mind.
A nursing career can offer you so much, including the chance to give back to the community and actively change the lives of others. It can also present you with new challenges every day, which is ideal for someone who wants to grow on both a professional and personal level. It can be a tough job at times, but the rewards you get from it can make those harder days worthwhile in the end. If you think you are ready to make a switch to a nursing career, but you’re not sure where to start, here are some tips that you mind find useful moving forward.
Take the Time to Research Nursing
Nursing might seem like your ideal job on the surface level, but as with any role, it’s important to make sure that you understand the ins and outs of what to expect, as they are never quite what they seem. The first step to making a switch to this type of career path is to carry out thorough research into the nursing profession so that you can get a better understanding of what you will be doing in this role, as well as the other opportunities you might get in the future of your nursing career. There are numerous online resources that you can refer to for this, and you might even find that speaking to nurses with experience can give you a deeper insight into this role, too. Even discussing things like what it will be like when you are studying for your nursing degree and preparing for the licensure exam to become a registered nurse will all be beneficial to you moving forward.
Make a List of Your Transferable Skills
When you are choosing to make a career change, another good idea to help you prepare for the move is to consider what skills you already have that will apply to your new role. As a nurse, you will need to develop specific skills that are necessary for patient care and working in a healthcare background, but there are some transferable skills that you may already have. For example, you will need to have excellent communication skills if you want to be successful in a nursing role, as you will be working closely with other nurses and members of the healthcare team. You will also be working with patients and their loved ones, providing support for them emotionally as well as assisting with their treatments and general care. Other useful skills that you can apply to a nursing role include great organization and time management, the ability to adapt to various situations, and the confidence to work under pressure, as you will likely work in fast-paced healthcare environments at some stage in your career, like a hospital ward.
It’s good to make a list of the skills you currently have so that you can use this to help plan for your nursing degree applications, but also to highlight the areas where you need to develop to give yourself the best chance of succeeding in nursing.
Consider Shadowing Professional Nurses
As well as having discussions with nurses that you may know or on forums, you might also want to look into shadowing opportunities to help you decide if this will be the right career switch for you. Being able to shadow a nurse at work for a day or two can help you get a better idea of what to expect as part of your daily routine in this position and whether or not it is what you thought it might be. Although you will only get a quick taster of what working as a nurse will be like, this can be a very educational process, and it’s worthwhile looking into this so that you can make a more informed decision before you decide to pursue this career.
Look at Your Options for Nursing Degrees
You will need to get a nursing degree if you want to pursue this as a profession, so you do need to think about whether or not you will be willing to commit time to your studies as part of this career transition. Typically, nursing degrees can last up to four years, but there are some accelerated programs you can look at if this is preferable. You might also find that enrolling in an online nursing degree might be more suitable for your circumstances, particularly if you want to continue working while you study or if you have other commitments that you need to make time for. An example of what to expect from these courses can be seen with these hybrid ABSN programs.
You’ll also need to think about how you will finance your nursing degree, and there will be options to apply for student loans if this will be suitable for you.
Shadowing nurses can be a good way to get some insight into what this role entails, but volunteering in a healthcare environment can also be a good idea if you are thinking about making a switch to nursing. You could find some volunteer work in nursing homes if you think you’d like to work with the elderly or see if your local hospital or healthcare clinic needs help with administration or activities that are designed to help boost patient morale. If you think you would be interested in becoming a mental health nurse, then looking at working somewhere more closely aligned with this sort of care would be beneficial, too.
Although volunteering can take up more of your time, it can be a sensible choice, particularly if you would like to learn more about working in healthcare and to see if this sort of environment and work would be a right fit for you.
Think About Where You Want Your Nursing Career to Go
Once you start your training to become a nurse, you will no doubt discover different career paths within the profession that you hadn’t thought about before or perhaps hadn’t even heard of. While you don’t have to have your entire career planned out at this stage, it’s still beneficial to have some thought about where you would like to end up. There are various paths available to nurses, so finding a role within this field that suits your personality and interests shouldn’t be too difficult. You may find that you would like to focus your career on research to help improve patient care or perhaps take on more responsibility as a nurse practitioner in a local healthcare clinic or hospital. If you like to be in charge of a team, you may set your sights on working up to a head nurse role. There are also opportunities to take your expertise into a more educational role later in your career, working with colleges or other traineeship programs for a new generation of nurses.
The kind of role you choose to take can also impact how much money you make, so if you would like to eventually earn a better salary, looking at these higher-paid roles might be of interest to you. You may also want to consider whether or not you would like to work overseas or in another state at a later stage to expand your career opportunities and experience.
Think About the Logistics of Making a Career Change
Finally, if you do have your heart set on making a switch to a nursing career, you’ll also need to carefully consider the logistics of making this kind of change. Even if you are choosing to continue working while you study for your nursing degree, you might find that you will need to reduce your hours to accommodate this. Therefore, assessing how your income will be affected and what lifestyle changes you may have to make as a result is important. If you are thinking about relocating to pursue your nursing career, this will also need to be evaluated, and you’ll need to find somewhere suitable to live and familiarize yourself with this new area. Will there be others in your life, such as children or other relatives your care for, that will be impacted by your career move? How will you address this?
Make sure that you are prepared to make the necessary adjustments so that you can confidently make this career change and ease the transitional period for yourself.
If you would like to make a change to a nursing career so that you can pursue your true calling, make sure you have thought about all of the above to help you make the switch successfully.