A nursing career can be highly rewarding in many ways. You can help people protect their health, work with other medical professionals, and contribute to quality of life for various types of patients. If you are unsure which type of nursing you might want to pursue, here are some tips that might help.
Get a Mentor
Find someone with significant nursing experience who is willing to talk with you about the work. It might be a relative, a friend of the family, or someone recommended by the nursing school where you earned a degree. Organize specific questions you want to ask and take notes when you meet. Of course, if you communicate by email, just store the messages where you can retrieve later for future reference.
A mentor can also offer tips and advice for choosing a suitable nursing field that is compatible with your interests. If you enjoy helping older people, working in a nursing home might be a good idea, for example. On the other hand, if you prefer working with babies, a neonatal hospital unit could be ideal. Your mentor can give you insight about what it is like to work in nursing generally and perhaps specifically.
Join a Professional Organization
If you are eligible, join a nursing organization to learn from others in the field. You can participate on committees dedicated to issues of interest, and you can attend conferences and presentations to help you better understand the nursing industry today.
Examples of professional nursing organizations include the American Nurses Association (ANA) for any type of nursing and the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) for a specific branch of nursing. Indicating your membership on your resume will strengthen your credentials. You can also network with nurses from around the country and enroll in certification programs that some organizations offer to enhance your nursing skills.
Job Shadow One or More Nursing Positions
Through your nursing school or by inquiring at local medical institutions like hospitals and nursing homes, you may be able to shadow a nurse for practical insight to the typical day’s work. You could see specific tasks carried out in real life instead of reading about them in a textbook.
There may be some unexpected events or tasks that will let you see how a nurse should respond to surprise incidents, especially those of an emergency nature. Interactions with patients, their family members, and the other medical staff can offer insight to professional relationships and communication on the job.
Volunteer or Work at Medical Facilities
Beginning in high school, you may be able to volunteer for basic volunteer positions at area medical facilities, such as a doctor’s office or a nursing home. Tasks often include delivering mail or meals and assisting with clerical duties like filing or taking patient specimens to the lab. When you reach the age for legal employment, you could apply for an entry-level hospital job that may pay competitive wages and possibly offer tuition assistance.
Starting with basic nursing duties, you will get an idea about a typical nursing position, which will help you decide if you really want to enter this vocation. You can also become somewhat prepared for taking nursing classes to earn a degree and eventually work as a full-time nurse. In nursing school, you will probably take rotations at different floors of a local hospital where you can see the profession in action. That, too, may help you choose the type of nursing you want to do.
Register as a Temporary Travel Nurse
If you need more time to choose a nursing specialty, or if you are not sure you are ready to settle into a permanent, full-time position where you will do the same type of nursing indefinitely, you might want to become a travel nurse. With short-term and long-term assignments available, often in your region of choice, you can explore many types of nursing to decide which you find most rewarding.
Many travel nursing companies will pay you a high wage and living expenses along with certain benefits to take assignments on a temporary basis. So, you don’t have to worry about being committed for the rest of your life or even years. You can explore various kinds of nursing in many communities throughout the country. For example, you might want to take an assignment working as a school nurse among Native American students in the Southwest. Or you may prefer a temp assignment as an ER nurse in an urban area. The resulting experience will help you to define the type of work you most want to do.
Talk to a Recruiter
You can also talk to a nursing recruiter about the range of jobs that are currently available and likely to open up in the future. A recruiter can explain the pay scale for different parts of the country and the required duties for each type of position. Other things to consider would be promotion opportunities within the organization as well as tuition assistance if you plan to go back to school for a master’s of nursing degree.
Browse Social Media
LinkedIn is an online networking platform for professionals of all kinds. You can join nurse groups and learn about their experiences, warnings, and suggestions. A job board is also available that can send you notifications about nursing positions in your preferred areas. Connecting with others via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram might also result in nursing job leads at hospitals, doctor’s offices, nursing homes, schools, or travel nursing companies like those found right here.
Consult Your Nursing School Adviser
Your nursing school adviser can put you in touch with the college’s placement office with job leads. The adviser might be able to recommend nursing recruiters who are hoping to hire nursing school graduates. Advisers often have connections to many medical institutions and can help point you in the right direction for job hunting.
Don’t settle for just any nursing position. Use tips like those above to find the job you enjoy while making a meaningful living.