Nursing is one of the most educational and inspiring careers out there. Even during your twentieth years as a nurse, you will learn things that you had no idea about before. It’s important, then, to keep an open mind throughout your whole career, no matter how many years of experience you have.
To give you an idea of what awaits you at the other side of nursing school, here are twenty things you will learn as a nurse.
1. The Importance of Education
There will be many times throughout your nursing career where you’ll realize just how important your education was. Not just in terms of the knowledge you acquired (although that is incredibly valuable), but also in the connections you made along the way.
After completing nursing school and starting your first official year as a nurse, you might be tempted to pursue online msn programs. This is understandable, as it will give you a wider breadth of knowledge as well as allowing you to pursue a specialty. Plus, with the course being online, it doesn’t have to affect your nursing shifts.
2. Mistakes are a Given
People are often taught that mistakes are inherently bad, but that simply isn’t true. After all, how would you ever learn anything without making mistakes? If you hadn’t gotten painful sunburn as a teenager, you might not take sun protection quite as seriously as an adult.
Every single nurse had made an error during their career, and that’s something you’ll learn pretty early on. You’ll also learn that, rather than letting the mistake get you down, it’s always better to brush it off and learn from it. Sometimes, it helps to laugh at it, too.
3. Long Shifts are Common
OK, so you’ve probably already heard that nursing involves long shifts, but you won’t truly understand that until you’ve had to work them. So while nursing school can take a lot out of you, a grueling sixteen-hour shift on the ward will test your resilience.
Fortunately, nurses quickly become accustomed to long shifts, and you’ll find that your body clock soon works well with the rhythm. Plus, it means you get more time off in a row, allowing you to give your body the rest it needs (and it does need it!).
4. You Cannot Forget Self-Care
Over the years, you’ve probably heard about how important self-care is for the body and mind. Until you work in an intense career, though, you won’t understand how true that is. When you give all of your time and attention to patients during your shifts, you must then focus on looking after yourself in your own time. That means:
- Always Eating Breakfast
Breakfast is often described as the most important meal of the day – for nurses; this is often true. However, lunchtimes aren’t always set in stone, so if you leave for work without enjoying a few slices of toast or your morning cereal, you might find you don’t eat for many hours in a row, leaving you feeling tired and moody.
Doing Activities that You Enjoy
Even after a long sixty-hour work week, you should still make a little time for doing something you love, whether that’s a spot of gardening or meeting up with your friends for cocktails and a catch-up.
- Resting Your Body
Nursing is as much a physical role as it is a mental one. After twelve hours on your feet, your body will be feeling tired, making it crucial that you spend some of your time off resting your body. Don’t worry – that can include curling up with your favorite book or watching the latest Netflix series.
- Dressing up from Time to Time
As a nurse, you won’t care about your appearance during shifts. While that is perfectly fine, it does help to dress up on your time off from now and again. If you haven’t put a suit or dress on in a while, it can be freeing to step off the ward, put some effort into your appearance, and feel beautiful for the evening.
5. You Need Your Co-Workers
The importance of your co-workers is something you’re likely to learn in nursing school and during online msn programs, but it will only become more apparent once you start your full-time career as a nurse. Nursing isn’t a profession for those who prefer to work alone. In fact, as a nurse, you downright need your co-workers to get through each day.
You don’t just need your co-workers for work-related problems, though (although that is included); you also need them for emotional support when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Nursing can be too much to face alone, but with a great team of nurses behind you, you will thrive.
6. You’ll Learn Just as Much from the Patients
There is one place that you’ll receive an education from that will surprise you. While online msn programs and nurse training courses will teach you valuable knowledge about nursing, you will also gain invaluable life experience from speaking to your patients.
Every single patient you meet has a story. While some of them you’ve likely heard before, some will blow you away, teaching you a piece of life advice you wouldn’t have learned elsewhere. It’s one of the most beautiful parts of the job and is an education you should never take for granted.
7. Humans Beings are Incredibly Resilient
People often think that once their body starts to break down, that is it. But, as a nurse, you will learn from your countless experiences that this is simply not true. After you watch a woman mentally recover from a painful loss, see a young boy laugh despite a leukemia diagnosis, and receive a kind word from someone who is in so much pain they shouldn’t talk at all, you will understand just how brave and resilient human beings can be.
8. Tough Choices Don’t Get Easier
Nurses are often faced with tough choices. Sometimes, you’ll have to prioritize one patient over another for a short while, and that can make you feel uneasy, especially if both patients require your care. Therefore, it’s important to learn how to prioritize as a nurse and not beat yourself up for making tough choices.
While the harder choices do not get easier to make, you do become better at making them. You’ll find you don’t question yourself as much and, if you make the wrong call, you become better at forgiving yourself. After all, nobody is perfect.
9. Keeping Your Cool is a Must
Anyone with a short temper would struggle as a nurse, especially somewhere like the ER. You’ll find that sometimes, your patients (or even your co-workers) push you to your limit, and your patience wears thin. In these situations, you’ll learn that keeping cool is the best action to take, as getting angry will only make the situation worse. Just remember to have a good old rant with your friends afterward!
If you struggle to keep your cool during challenging situations, it’s important to learn how to manage it early on while in nursing school or studying for online msn programs. That way, you’ll be a master of a calm temperament by the time you deal with patients.
10. No Two People are the Same
As a nurse, you’ll find that what works for one patient doesn’t work for another. That’s partly what makes nursing such a diverse and interesting career – no two days are the same because no two patients are the same. Over time, though, this will give you a bigger appreciation for humans in general, as you’ll understand just how unique everybody is.
11. Nothing is Ever Simple
When first applying to nursing school, you might have imagined a career with a strict regime – wake up, go to work, treat patients, go home. It’s never that simple, though, especially when it comes to a nursing career. There’ll be days where you are required to work overtime, days where your priorities shift, and weeks where you must fill in for another team member.
Plus, each day is different – you’re not sitting in front of a computer typing similar words each day; you are dealing with a wide range of people who each have unique thoughts and feelings. Nursing is never a simple ride, but no one will tell you that it isn’t interesting.
12. You Will Never Know Everything
Everybody learns at some point or another that they simply don’t – and cannot – know everything. For nurses, this lesson comes much sooner. So while you will learn new things every day, there’ll always be someone with extra pieces of information. Don’t worry, though, as you’ll also know things they don’t.
13. Laughter Can Actually Be the Best Medicine
While your patients still need their medications and treatments, sometimes, laughter is the best medicine. After a long shift dealing with multiple patients followed by a ton of paperwork, you will probably feel exhausted and a little stressed. Once your co-worker comes over and cracks a joke, though, those feelings will disappear, if only for a little while.
It’s important as a nurse to look on the bright side and have a great sense of humor. Without that, you’ll struggle to make it through the tougher shifts.
14. Your Non-Nursing Friends Are Important
While attending nursing school and studying for online msn programs, you might find that your non-nursing friends start to fade into the background. You shouldn’t let this happen, though, as one of the most important lessons you will learn as a nurse is that you should hold them close.
After spending a whole week studying for online msn programs and tending to patients, the last thing you want to do is talk about nursing. However, with your non-nursing family and friends, you can ask them to fill you in on everything non-healthcare-related, giving you a much-needed break.
15. Illness and Disease Don’t Discriminate
Many people think illness is reserved for the old, weak, unhealthy, and incredibly unlucky, but as a nurse, you learn that isn’t true. Illness, diseases, and accidents can affect anyone, and they do, in vast numbers – that’s why nurses and doctors are so important! In addition, you will learn that no matter how much money a person has or how healthy they have lived, illness doesn’t discriminate.
16. Death is a Part of Life
Being around death will never be easy. You will learn, however, that it is a part of life. While it might never get easier to watch a patient die, you will come to understand that it is a natural part of life. It is both a hard and essential lesson and one that many people don’t get the privilege of receiving.
17. A Kind Word Can Make All the Difference
Whether you are studying for online msn programs or dealing with multiple difficult patients, a kind word can really lift your day. Due to this, you’ll learn to understand and appreciate the power of genuine kindness through conversation.
That applies to patients, too. If a patient is physically and mentally struggling, and there’s not much you can do, it’s often the words that’ll have the most healing power. While they won’t mend a broken bone or stop the growth of a tumor, they can put a smile on someone’s face. Then, when all else fails, it helps.
18. You Are Stronger Than You Think
One of the most important lessons you will learn as a nurse is just how strong and resilient you are. You are strong enough to pursue online msn programs while working full-time, you are strong enough to deal with multiple difficult patients in one day, and you are strong enough to push through even the longest of shifts. It’s something you won’t have realized before becoming a nurse, but it is information that’ll give you the drive to flourish in everything you do.
Nursing is an excellent profession and is worth going to nursing school, applying for online msn programs, and dealing with long, intense shifts. With all the lessons you learn from working as a nurse, there is no doubt you will come out the other end wiser than most.