Five Tips if You are Considering a Career in Nursing
Shepherd Center nurse, Suzie Goggin RN, CRRN, gives her advice for anyone considering a career in nursing.
By Suzie Goggin RN, CRRN
Happy National Nurses Week! I just want to say what an honor and a privilege it is to be a registered nurse (RN), and especially a staff RN at Shepherd Center. I have been a nurse for nearly eight years this June. I work on the comprehensive rehabilitation unit (CRU). I love CRU because we get to treat the widest variety of patients. What I can tell you is that while nursing can be tough, it is a fulfilling career that is worth it. Here are some tips I think are helpful to think about if you are considering becoming a nurse.
Five tips for considering a career in nursing
- Know your why. Why nursing? What are your expectations? The admission process is competitive, and achieving the degree is tough. However, nothing compares to your first year in nursing. It can be overwhelming. So, there are plenty of what I call “gut checks” along the way. I have seen many new nurses stop their careers short because nursing wasn’t what they thought it would be. So, please do some soul searching and get as clear as you can about your answer to “why nursing?” Try to get past the “I want to make an impact” answer. Remember that there is a difference between the role of nursing and doing the job of a nurse.
- Work in the field. Trust me. Get a certification as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) or medical assistant. You will learn a lot and see the full spectrum of care. Also, many nursing programs now require you to work as a CNA. This will help you truly understand the role and the job as a nurse. You may find out that you would rather pursue a career in respiratory therapy, physical therapy or another discipline.
- Find at least one nursing mentor. Ask them a lot of questions. Try to find nurses in different roles and places in their careers. It will help you get an idea of how to navigate the career options in your area. I relied heavily on my nursing mentors, and they really helped me through some of the crossroads I faced as a student and as a new nurse.
- Assess your strengths and weaknesses. Be honest. Are you resilient? Good with computers? Good with people? How do you handle pressure? How do you handle change? Ask for honest feedback from your current employer or peers. Are you disciplined enough for a grueling school schedule? Nursing is more than strong academics. Taking care of people requires some self-awareness. Do you have some mental health issues you need addressed? Anxiety? Depression? Make sure you are mentally, emotionally and physically ready for this challenging but rewarding career. You cannot give from an empty cup. So, start filling it now.
- Just do it. Get as much experience as you can. Volunteer for new experiences. Nursing school will only give you the basics. You must work hard to get good internships and clinical experiences. Go for it again and again. The strongest nurses are always willing to learn a new skill. You will never know when those skills could come in handy.
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 935 inpatients, 541 day program patients and more than 7,300 outpatients each year.