When it comes to working as a nurse there are a number of mental, emotional and physical stresses you’ll be faced with in your daily work life.
If you are interested in working within the nursing field then it is important to understand what your daily responsibilities will be and whether or not you’ll be able deal with those responsibilities.
Depending on the field of nursing you decide you want to work in the demands that are required of you on a daily basis may change.
For example the responsibilities of a nurse attorney or nurse entrepreneur may be very different from those of an emergency room nurse or nurse practitioner, so when answering these questions keep in mind whether or not they apply to your chosen career field, especially if you’ll have to work in a general nursing field before being able to move onto a specialized field.
Most of these questions will focus on general nursing, but may also apply to other areas of nursing.
As a nurse you will deal with a number of psychological stresses in your daily routine.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself to help you determine whether or not you will be comfortable dealing with these stresses.
Do you enjoy interacting with people on a daily basis?
As a registered nurse you will need to have good interpersonal skills and be able to communicate regularly with your patients and coworkers on a daily basis.
Depending on the career field you enter the amount of interaction you’ll have with your colleagues will vary, however your ability to interact and communicate effectively will be extremely important in the nursing field.
Do you work well with a team?
Registered nursing is often a team oriented job and you’ll often find yourself working in close quarters with other nurses and medical professionals.
Being able to work well together and use a team oriented approach to handle certain tasks will be essential.
Working with a team goes beyond simply communicating with them.
You’ll have to coordinate tasks, follow other team members and sometimes take the lead on projects or tasks that require your skills.
Are you passionate about helping people improve their mental and/or physical health?
As a registered nurse you’ll be responsible for educating your patients about about how to treat and improve their medical condition.
You’ll also be responsible for addressing patient concerns, collecting and maintaining medical information, diagnosing and treating your patients (depending on your field), performing certain medical procedures, managing multiple patients at a time and performing other medical related tasks.
Do you have good organizational skills?
Nurses must be able to keep track of the various tasks they have to perform on daily basis.
Organizing medical records, keeping track of your patients location and condition, coordinating with other team members, ensuring you are regularly carrying proper medical gear/equipment and making sure all of your tasks and paperwork is well organized and accessible will be vital to ensuring good workflow in the work place.
A lack of good organizational skills will likely complicate your work, slow down your team members and make it difficult to keep track of what you need to focus on.
Can you work well under stressful situations?
Some nursing fields can be extremely stressful and time specific.
For example nurses that work an emergency room or critical care unit may have to work with numerous patients that are dealing with life threatening illnesses, psychological disorders or physical injuries.
Being able to successfully manage your patients without getting emotionally distracted or mentally overwhelmed will play a big role in being able to work effectively.
Can you manage your time effectively?
Time management is another crucial skill that nurses must possess.
Getting to work on time, juggling multiple patients, performing medical tasks in a timely manner and handling important responsibilities quickly will be extremely important in certain departments or fields.
Not only is time efficiency important for managing your own tasks, it is also important for ensuring your team members can rely on you and get their tasks done as well.
Do you have good listening skills?
As a nurse there are tons of distractions that can interfere with your ability to listen effectively.
Thinking about a previous patient or personal issue, distractions from other team members, hospital noises and emotional distractions can all affect a nurses ability to listen effectively, therefore it is important for nurses to learn how to turn out the external and internal noises and focus on the tasks and patients at hand.
Being a good listener can help nurses correctly identify a patients medical condition, effectively communicating with team members, identify potential medical errors, properly manage daily tasks and better understand your responsibilities as a nurse.
Excellent listening skills are an important asset in the medical field.
Can you juggle multiple tasks effectively?
In some career fields nurses are expected to be able to handle multiple tasks on a regular basis.
In these cases a nurse does not have the luxury of sitting down and working on paperwork for an hour or talking to a single patient over an extended amount of time.
You may have to manage several patients, keep track of medical records, perform various medical tasks, assist other team members and manage other nurse related tasks in a single hour.
Are you comfortable with reading, researching and writing for long periods of time?
Not all field within the nursing field deal directly with patient care.
If you are interested in becoming a nurse attorney, blogger, historian or researcher for example you may find yourself spending long hours going over medical papers, researching documents and/or medical histories, writing up synopsis and performing other writing/reading intensive work.
One of the most commonly overlooked parts of nursing is understanding the emotional responsibilities nurses face on a regular basis.
Dealing with patients you’ve become attached to, managing interpersonal conflicts in the workplace and being a leader when you have to train newer colleagues are just some of the emotional areas you’ll have to triumph.
Here are some questions to ask when it comes to dealing with the emotional components of nursing.
Are you able to take the lead when other team members are absent or less experienced?
As a nurse you may have to be the leader at times and not just a follower.
When you are faced with situations where you’ll have to take the lead on performing certain tasks or are responsible for teaching new nurses what their responsibilities are and how to work effectively will you be comfortable with leading?
How well do you deal with interpersonal conflict?
As a nurse your responsibility often lies in making sure that patients are being properly taken care of and treated.
In some situations you may be faced with working alongside others who have different views or opinions.
Being able to put your differences aside and work together in order to complete the task at hand will be extremely important in the workplace.
In situations where you may not be able to resolve an issue with a coworker, how you handle the situation can be extremely important.
Will you talk to human resources or your manager to try and resolve the conflict, lash out at your coworker or find another way to handle the situation?
Does the thought of dealing with bodily fluids such as blood, vomit, urine or feces bother you?
This one is pretty self explanatory.
If the thought of handling blood, urine, vomit, feces or other bodily fluids sounds like something you’d have trouble dealing with then you may want to think about what field of nursing may be right for you.
Are you able to emotionally deal with severely injured or sick patients?
If you are working in a setting where there are severely ill or injured patients then you’ll have to be able to emotionally deal with situations that can be very difficult at times.
One of the best feelings a nurse can have is being able to help the patients they care about, however this is not always going to be the case and being able to emotionally handle yourself when there is little you can do is very important for your mental health as well as your ability to properly do your job.
Are you able to work effectively despite getting connected emotionally to some of your patients?
In nursing it may be hard for nurses to not get emotionally attached to the patients they work with, especially if they’ve developed a long term bond with their patients or their patient reminds them of someone they care deeply about.
In many cases that relationship will eventually end due to a patient recovering from their medical ailment, passing away or simply moving to another location.
How well you cope when a relationship ends or when you have little control over improving the health of a patient you care about can have a big impact on your ability to stay positive and effective in the workplace.
One of the greatest presents of being a nurse is being able to help others, however there will be times when you’ll be faced with emotional situations that you’ll have to deal with, whether you want to or not.
Do you have a lot patience?
Nursing often requires a lot of patience.
Whether you’re working as a forensic nurse talking to victims/witnesses and gathering information or working as a registered nurse talking to your patients in order to understand their condition you may find yourself spending lot’s of time on specific tasks that require lot’s of patience and understanding.
If you work for a nursing home or rehabilitation center for example you will have to adjust to a much slower pace of care then you may be used to.
In the medical field listening and patience are two crucial components to providing quality patient care.
Are you in it for the money or because you’re passionate about nursing and healthcare?
You may have good intentions and really want to help people, however it is important to be realistic about your reasons for becoming a registered nurse and the sacrifices you’ll have to make in your daily work.
The emotional, mental and physical requirements can be overwhelming.
If your primary motivation is financial then you may quickly lose interest in the nursing field.
Every career (especially nursing) requires a certain level of emotional interest otherwise you will find it difficult to continue doing over the long run, so make sure that your reason for becoming a nurse is because you truly want to work in the field rather than for financial gains.
Aside from the mental and emotional components of nursing you’ll also have to deal with the physical demands that will be required of you.
Here are some questions to give you better clarity on what you’ll have to deal with physically as a nurse.
Are you o.k. with working long hours and/or working morning, noon and night shifts?
Some nursing fields and/or departments may require nurses to work long hours.
As a nurse you could find yourself working 10 – 12 hour shifts and in some cases you may also be asked to work overtime several times a week, especially in areas that are dealing with a nursing shortage.
In addition to this some fields of nursing require staffing 24 hours a day and you may be required to work morning, noon and/or night shifts.
If you work for a department or healthcare center that requires this sort of flexibility are you comfortable working these types of hours?
Can you deal with the physical demands of standing on your feet for long hours?
Nurses are often required to spend long hours walking on their feet as they move from one room to another or one patient area to the next.
Answering calls, coordinating with other team members, handling medical equipment and moving between the work station and the patient area may be a common task, so you may find yourself spending more time on your feet than sitting down.
Are you comfortable with physically moving people on a regular basis?
Moving patients is a common task within some areas of nursing.
Helping patients on to/off of a bed or wheel chair, moving patients around so that they can be cleaned, helping patients walk around and assisting them with other physical tasks may be a primary area of your work.
Are you able to move heavy equipment on a regular basis?
In addition to moving patients you may also have to carry around medical equipment on a regular basis that can weigh 30 lbs. or more.
Some equipment may have wheels that can be easily moved while other will require you to lift it and carry it around.
If you have a bad back, legs or feet then having to handle heavy equipment all the time may create problems.
Note: As mentioned earlier not all areas of nursing will have the same mental, emotional or physical demands, so depending on the area you plan on working in some of these questions may/may not apply to you.
As you can see the responsibilities and tasks nurses are faced with on a daily basis can be stressful on a mental, emotional and physical level, therefore it is important to understand what you’ll have to do as a registered nurse and decide what field of nursing you may be most interested in working in.
Every field offers its own set of demands and requirements, so make sure you choose wisely and pick a career that you can see yourself doing long term.
If you love working with patients you may prefer to work in a general positions at a hospital, school, healthcare center or nursing home.
If you prefer to work alone or outside of a healthcare facility then you may want to become an attorney nurse or nurse entrepreneur.
There are a wide variety of careers available to those who want to be a part of the nursing community, so take your time and choose wisely.