You could say that nurses are the guardian angels of patients, always there to comfort them, help with their illnesses and often provide basic counselling and emotional support.
If you see yourself as a person that is always willing to give medical and emotional assistance to patients, a nursing degree might be the right path for you. But how can you tell if you’re the right person for this very demanding, but also rewarding, career? Read below to find out.
7 top skills all nurses should have
- Be empathetic, compassionate, and very patient. You will often have to deal with emotional situations and you should be able to understand patients’ needs.
- Excellent interpersonal skills. Nurses will have to answer questions, offer advice, and be a mediator between doctors and patients.
- Have a high interest in science and math. These subjects are important not just during your nursing studies, but during your nursing job as well. You will always have to make clear and exact calculations in many of your daily tasks.
- Critical thinking and quick problem solver. Nurses have to analyse, review and investigate different situations in the medical field and they must take action according to the patient’s medical condition (injury, emergency or casualty).
- Attention to details. Nurses should be extra-attentive and vigilant, observe any change in a patient’s condition and act accordingly. Sometimes, you may have to take a doctor’s place when he/she is not present.
- Physical endurance. Nurses can sometimes work overtime, stand on their feet for long periods of time and perform several strenuous manoeuvers, like holding a patient up or carrying medical equipment.
- Ability to function under high pressure or stress. Nurses are always on the go, can’t take a break when they want to and have to remain calm, focused and efficient, regardless of the numerous patients and difficult medical situations they would have to deal with.
Start with a Bachelor or a preparation course?
A Bachelor’s degree in nursing is required in order to become an assistant. If you're interested in advancing to a higher position in your career, you can then continue with a Master's degree and even a PhD.
If you want to study nursing abroad, but don’t match the starting qualifications required by the university or the academic system of the country, you will have to enrol in a foundation or preparation course in nursing. During a pre-Bachelor or pre-Master degree in nursing, you will be introduced to the basic theories and practices that are used in the nursing career. Some programmes also focus on acquiring basic English skills for academic purposes.
Picking the best study destination
Nursing has become a popular study field and you can find programmes available for any degree level at most universities worldwide. For this reason, nursing schools have started to be ranked according to various criteria, such as academic excellence, internship opportunities, employability rate, etc.
1. Best Nursing Bachelors in the United States
2. Best Nursing Bachelors in the United Kingdom
3. Best Nursing Bachelors in Canada
4. Best Nursing Bachelors in Australia
Deciding where you’ll practice nursing
If you wish to study in a certain country and then wish to practice in another, there are certain tests you need to pass, so you could be made eligible.
In the U.S., the CGFNS offers the Credentials Evaluation Service Professional Report, where you can see a complete guide, based on the country you studied in, to how you can convert your degree into a suitable one for the States.
This goes for Europe as well. If you are a EU/EEA student, you can travel and work without borders and additional testing. If you are from other continents, though, the NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council) will provide you with the information and the necessary test of competence, so you can translate your aptitudes.
Even so, some universities prefer to have their own systems when it comes to structuring the years of study:
- In Europe, universities may offer degree programmes in nursing that last three years and a half, as it covers more hours of professional activity practice. On the average, a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing will take three years.
- In the U.S., you will have the opportunity to spend one semester abroad for either studying or work placement. Usually, courses here will take you four years.
- In Australia, Bachelor’s degrees in nursing take three years’ full-time, but there are some universities who will let you finish this in a part-time schedule.
The course structure of a nursing Bachelor’s degree
Courses are usually divided into modules, with each term covering two or three modules, including practical experience.
You will have the opportunity to practice your skills in laboratories, on rubber bags simulation dolls, and then on your fellow classmates. After several hours of practice in the laboratory, you will then partake in internships and further practice your skills in the real world. In addition, you will learn the main theories related to nurses’ code of conduct: like respecting patients’ confidentiality.
In some nursing schools, students can directly apply to specialty tracks and receive more targeted training in specific areas of their field of choice.
As a Bachelor student in nursing, you will be introduced to notions of:
- healthcare informatics;
- pain management;
- surgical nursing;
- emergency first aid.
Careers and job attributes a nurse will pursue
A nursing job has a multitude of advantages, such as:
- Working anywhere you want, as your skills are universally acknowledged;
- Flexible working hours, as you can choose which shift suits you;
- Great reward system, personally and professionally.
Depending on the exact specialisation and the location you will work (emergency hospital, private clinic, maternity, school, etc.), your main daily responsibilities will include:
- writing patient care charts and plans;
- observing, investigating and recording the medical condition of patients;
- perform medical checks, measurements, manoeuvers and operations, like administrating medications and setting blood transfusions.