6 Things You Need To Know Before Becoming A Nurse
By Sean Dent, MSN, ACNP-BC, CCRN
So you think you want to be a nurse? You’ve watched them on the big screen, you’ve seen them in action on television, and you may have even observed them at work in real life.
It’s easy to assume that everyone knows about the profession of nursing. I mean, nurses have ranked as the #1 most trusted profession for 15 consecutive years according to the annual Gallup poll.
But does the public really know who nurses are and what we’re capable of? Do people truly understand the profession of nursing or the men and women who carry the title -- not to mention the dizzying number of specialties we practice?
Better yet, if you’re interested in becoming a nurse, do you know what you’re getting into? Here are six things you need to know before you take the leap of submitting your application to a nursing program:
- Hollywood medicine gets it wrong
- Male nurses do exist
- We’re the most trusted profession for a reason
- Alphabet soup: there are a lot of acronyms and credentials
- Not everyone can do this job
- The opportunities are endless
1. Hollywood medicine gets it wrong
Everything from the scrubs we wear down to the actual function and role we play at the bedside is generally misrepresented in movies and television. Many of the popular TV shows get it wrong – just ask any nurse.
Real-life nurses are high-functioning, independent, critically thinking healthcare providers who are treated as colleagues, not servants or handmaidens – and definitely not like sex objects.
Oh, and let’s be clear on one thing: nurses are not there to just take doctors’ orders – we have more autonomy than you think.
2. Male nurses do exist
Yes, we do. While we only make up roughly 10% of the nursing workforce, our presence is growing. Most of us don’t really like the term “Murse” and no, we didn’t lose our “Man Card” when we became nurses. There is a very high percentage of male nurses who love the adrenaline rush of emergency and critical care nursing, but you’ll find them in all areas of the profession.
3. We are the most trusted profession for a reason
As mentioned above, we’re #1 (for 15 years and counting) according to Gallup. We speak for our patients when they’re unable to speak for themselves. We’re the linchpins of the healthcare system for patients in all walks of life, at any stage of their medical journey. We help not only bridge the gap of understanding for our patients, but we’re honest enough to tell them the things they may not want to hear but need to hear.
4. Alphabet soup. There are a lot of acronyms and credentials
The world of healthcare loves acronyms. We love to abbreviate, probably because we just don’t have the time to write out everything. In addition to abbreviations, our profession is swimming in a sea of credentials and certifications.
Just to be clear, a CNA, LPN, RN, CRNP, CRNA, DNP, MSN, and BSN are all nurses – and yes, it can all be very confusing. I promise we’re not doing it on purpose. You’ll learn what each letter means as you progress through the profession.
5. Not everyone can do this job
It takes heart to do this job – both the physical and proverbial heart. You not only will be challenged physically (and mentally), but you’ll need to have a firm grasp on your emotions. What we see and are subjected to on a daily basis is not easily digestible. We nurses see the human condition at its worst and most vulnerable moments, and not everyone can handle that.
6. Opportunities are endless
The profession of nursing has a very unique and attractive feature: once you pass your state board exam, attain your license, and hold the title of nurse, you now have the ability to choose where you practice within the nursing profession and healthcare ecosystem.
You can choose to work in multiple areas of nursing, all without having to re-enter formal schooling. As a licensed nurse, there are many jobs you can “transfer” to without having to attain another degree. You can also pursue a wide variety of specialty certifications in order to elevate your career and increase your credibility and marketability.
What do you think? Is nursing in your future? It’s truly not for the faint of heart, but it’s truly one of the most rewarding professions to be found in the professional world.