06 Jan So, you want to be a nurse?
A nurse is one who opens the eyes of a newborn and gently closes the eyes of a dying man. It is indeed a huge blessing to be the first and last to witness the beginning and end of life. – Tori Hamilton
First off, good for you! You’re about to join one of the most challenging, but rewarding careers there are out there. Being a nurse will give you your highest highs and some of the lowest lows. You will hold the sweaty hands of a woman screaming as she brings life into this world and you will hold the hands of a dying man who is afraid to leave his wife a widow. This career is incredible for so many reasons. It’s about the way you make others feel, but also how you feel at the end of the day… likely exhausted and ready to kick your feet up, but ultimately, fulfilled
In this post, I’ve outlined my experiences before, during and after nursing school that got me to where I am today: working in a job that I didn’t expect I would ever be in, but nonetheless, a job I love.
Tips Prior to Nursing School:
I knew from a young age I wanted to work in the healthcare field, but I didn’t always know that I wanted to be a nurse.
To gain better insight into a healthcare setting, I volunteered in my local hospital for 4 years, filling numerous different roles. This allowed me to catch a glimpse into the different roles of those working in a healthcare setting and it helped me realize that nursing was for me. This volunteer experience not only aided me in future university applications and job interviews, but it also granted me thousands of dollars in a scholarship from the hospital.
Looking back, volunteering for 3 hours, just once a week for nearly 4 years helped to get me where I am today.
Tips During Nursing School:
During my summers off in nursing school, I tried my best to gain work experience in the healthcare field. I spent my first summer working as a uncertified care provider (UCP) dispensing medications and taking vital signs in an old age home. While this may seem minor, it helped to prepare me for my first clinical experience in my second year of university.
I spent another summer working shifts as a personal support worker (PSW) in a locked dementia unit of a retirement home. While this job definitely falls into the category of my least favourite jobs, it gave me very good experience in providing personal, quality care efficiently (anyone who has worked as a PSW will get me when I say this – it’s wild out there!!).
All of this experience allowed me to understand the roles of others in the healthcare team and helped me to evolve into a better, more well-rounded nurse overall.
Tips After Nursing School:
Take. That. Job. Now, I’m not saying you should apply to things that you know you’re not going to like, but try to branch out to more options than just your dream job.
I was so hell-bent on working in a labour and delivery setting right out of nursing school. I had completed my final practicum in this setting and couldn’t imagine working anywhere else. To my dismay, the labour and delivery floor that I had consolidated on was not hiring when I graduated. I’ll be the first to admit, I was crushed for a while and didn’t know what I would do. But, I got back up, and I applied to surgical floors. I knew working in med/surg would allow me to learn the skills I needed as a nurse fast. I landed a job on a surgical floor specializing in gynecology, urology and plastics and BOY, did I learn. (Side note: my co-workers were also the most incredible people on this planet, and I never would have met them if I didn’t take that job)
I’m so happy that I branched out and allowed myself the opportunity to learn more than just the one thing that I thought was “it” for me. By checking my ego and realizing the amazing learning opportunity working in med/surg provides, I got myself to where I am now – working as an IVF Coordinator at a world-renowned fertility clinic / surgical site. Oh, and did I mention I work all day shifts?? Life is good.
TL;DR: immerse yourself in the healthcare field through volunteer and work experience and try working in areas that are out of your comfort zone – all of these factors could lead you to the dream that you don’t even know you’re dreaming of yet!
’Til next time!