Hi all my fellow nurses, nursing students and future nurses!
Great question. Personally, I think the best way to answer this question is to first look at the reason why someone shouldn't go into the nursing profession.
Don't go into nursing because you think your going to make lots of money.
Reason: Just the opposite is true. Hospitals will pay you good money. They will pay you more money to work overtime, to come in on your off days, to cover shifts where you may be the only nurse on the floor. Yes, they will pay you. But accepting assignments that put the patients at risk because they haven't staffed enough nurses, puts not only your patient in jeopardy, but your license and your mental health. If you are willing to risk all these factors for a paycheck, then you may want to rethink your career choice.
Don't go into nursing because you want job security.
Reason: We all want job security. But nursing is such a dynamic and exciting field, most nurses do not stay at one job very long. It's just too much fun to have the options to try other fields of nursing. Rest assured, you will always be in demand as a nurse. But you will soon find out that working in only one discipline may get tedious. You should instead think about starting a 401K on your own once you get your first job.
Don't go into nursing because you want to feel important.
Reason: Once you are a nurse, you will be taken down a notch or two, right out of the gate, by doctors, fellow nurses, supervisors and patients. There is no room in the healthcare field for people on power trips. Get ready to be humbled. By the way, going in with a humble attitude helps.
Now let's look at the right reasons to be a nurse.
If you have a deep compassion for your fellow man, then you have the inherent makings of a nurse. Remember that its empathy not sympathy that those in need respond to. Empathy is that emotion where you are able to connect with your patient. You may not be able to completely understand what type of trauma they may be going through but you have the emotional connection of respect along with compassion. It is in this sense that therapeutic communication is best elucidated. No one wants someone to feel sorry for them. This emotion just doesn't help them. It is not beneficial and serves no purpose. Actually, sympathy can do more harm than good. There have been books and thesis's written by nurse leaders on therapeutic communication. It is the cornerstone of nursing.
Now let's take a look at your study habits. Prepare to get into study mode. Nursing is an evidenced based science. Therefore critical thinking skills are a necessity. These skills are not developed overnight. They take time and long hours of reading and research. While you may not be doing research at first, prepare yourself to write papers, lots of papers. The associate degree program is pretty intense. You will need to have at least two years of prerequisites before getting into the nursing program. The prerequisite core courses will prepare to think critically and logically about subject matter. So prepare to study!
Last and final aspect every nurse needs is the ability not to cringe around foul smelling body exudates. You know the ones that I'm talking about, vomit, stool, blood and supuration (Pus). The smell of cancer and gangrene can be overwhelming for anyone, but you have to look past the odor to how the patient must feel.