How to Prepare for Your Career While Getting a Nursing Degree

Posted December 16, 2014 by
Intern holding a clipboard in hospital entrance

Intern holding a clipboard in hospital entrance. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

If you are interested in a career in nursing, you’ve picked a great field with endless job opportunities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for registered nurses will increase by 19 percent by 2022. To take advantage of the job growth in nursing, there are some activities you may want to do while completing your nursing degree program. Why? Completing these tasks can help prepare you for your nursing career, while also gaining an edge over other applicants.

Volunteer at a Hospital

Volunteering at a hospital gives you some hands-on experience working in a hospital setting. In addition to getting experience, it puts you in direct contact with working nurses. These nurses can provide you with insight into your nursing career as well as advice into the different nursing career paths available to you. The best part about nurse volunteering is that you have endless opportunities. You can volunteer with non-profit organizations that hire nurses, clinics, outpatient services and nursing professional organizations.

Pursue Internships

Your nursing degree program will probably require you to complete an internship to graduate. However, you do not have to wait for your third or fourth year to intern. There are plenty of internships available. Some internships are only for the summer, while others can be completed throughout the course of a semester. You may even want to pursue internships in specific areas of nursing to find out if that particular career path is right for you.

Connect with One or More Nursing Organizations

Nursing organizations can help you grow as a future nurse by giving you access to events, conferences and other nursing-related information that is pertinent to your career. Professional nursing organizations are places to connect with other nurses and find job opportunities that are not posted on any job bulletins. Networking with other nurses and healthcare professionals should be a constant focus for this reason.

Some of these organizations include:

  • American Nurses Association
  • National Student Nurses’ Association
  • Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses

Work on Qualities Needed to be Successful in Nursing

All nurses need more than nursing knowledge and skills to be successful. They also need specific qualities and skills like:

  • Compassion: You have to be sympathetic and caring when you work with patients.
  • Organizational skills: Nurses are responsible for multiple patients at one time during a given work day. Having strong organization is critical to providing patients with quality care.
  • Attention to detail: This skill has become a cliché, but it is vital in the nursing career field. Since nurses are responsible for more than one patient, they have to keep perfect records. For instance, you need to be detail oriented to ensure patients receive the correct medicines and treatment at the correct time.

If you do not have the skills or qualities needed to be a successful nurse, you do not have to choose another major. Take some courses in your degree program to help you work on these skills.

Work in a Related Nursing Field

While you are working towards a nursing degree, apply for similar jobs that can provide valuable experience. Consider working as a home health or personal care aide while you complete your degree program to add further experience on your resume.

Simply obtaining your nursing degree will not fully prepare you to enter your career after school. Consider some of the actions you can take to develop yourself personally and professionally while working towards your degree and you will be best suited to enter the profession with a leg up on the competition and the confidence to succeed. Besides gaining valuable experience, you will also create a resume that will allow you to pursue the type of nursing career you desire.

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