If you are thinking of going to nursing school, you've probably already researched all the classes you have to take before you apply to any program. But what about the other prerequisites for nursing? It's a profession not suited to everyone, so before committing to this career path, ask yourself if you have the personality traits needed to excel as a nurse.
Even on the best of days, you'll need good organizational skills just to make it through your assignment. You'll need to develop your own system of approaching a shift, from making sure you have all the gadgets you need (pens, penlight, stethoscope etc.) to learning to anticipate patient needs and problems before they occur. The best and most experienced nurses all have a system for their work day and have above average organizational skills.
Patience for Patients
Can you handle patients and family members behaving badly? Sometimes patients and family members react with anger and frustration under the stress of a family illness and hospital stay. Even if you're wise enough to understand the real causes of the behaviors, it's still a real challenge for nurses everywhere. You'll have to check your ego at the door and focus on calming the upset patient rather than escalating the situation by insisting on being "right."
Keep Your Cool
You'll also have to stay calm in medical emergencies. When you hear that "Code Blue" announcement come over the PA system, you can't panic and forget your training. Stay focused on the most important tasks at hand, and if you're new to emergency situations, try acting as the recorder during a code, writing down everything that occurs. You'll be part of the team and observe how others handle the situation without doing the actual hands-on work until you gain your confidence. The nursing profession deals with life and death decisions, so you have to be able to stay calm and carry on no matter what happens.
Battling Compassion Fatigue
You're likely going into nursing because of your compassion and desire to make a difference in peoples' lives, and you certainly will as a nurse. But there are times when the best you can do for your patients is to keep them comfortable during the dying process. Death is a daily reality for nurses and anyone in the health care profession. Can you deal with suffering and death day in and day out without becoming cold or cynical? Do you have a strong support system in your personal life and ways to nurture yourself and avoid the learned numbness that comes with "compassion fatigue?" You'll never survive in this career without your own coping mechanisms.
So, you've completed all those courses to apply to nursing school, but do you have the personality prerequisites for nursing? If you do, you're well on your way to a bright future as a nurse.
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