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Thinking about a career in nursing? Find out if it’s right for you.

A quick search for “nursing” on Careerlink results in over 900 available positions. If you’re new to the medical and nursing fields, or even if you’re looking to gain new training and advance your position, you likely have a lot of questions about making the move.

First Steps in Exploring a Career in Nursing

Whether you are a high school student considering potential career paths or an adult who is dissatisfied with your current job, nursing may be an option for you. Those who don’t think they could handle the amount of education required to be a doctor or who would prefer to have more direct and compassionate interactions with patients may find nursing to be an ideal career option. You get both the stability of a medical field job and the pay that medical expertise commands.

However, becoming a nurse requires a significant investment in your education. There will be a lot of time and money spent before you can truly call yourself a nurse. It may be time to look at the process and determine if a career in nursing is right for you.

Get Your Hands Dirty and See If You Like the Work

Like any job, nursing may seem a lot more exciting to people when they only know about it through the media. If your exposure to nursing has been limited to movies, books, or television shows, it is possible you may not find the career itself as rewarding as you might expect. There is a lot of physical labor, including lifting and moving patients involved.

Nurses generally have to have a very compassionate and attentive bedside manner, as well. Talking back to doctors or reading patients the proverbial Riot Act may result in entertaining moments on TV, but it will not advance a career. Like anyone who directly relates to customers, nurses have to be professional.

They will also have to accept long shifts, often 10 or 12 hours, as well as a requirement to be on call, especially if they work in a hospital or emergency facility. Many medical facilities will allow those interested in nursing to volunteer as aides for a short time. You could spend a few days or even a weekend assisting in the basic care of patients to see if it is a good fit for you. Many will find that the time they spend exploring nursing ignites their passion and drives them forward.

Start Preparing for Educational Requirements

Once you have a better idea about the daily responsibilities and obligations of nurses, you can begin looking into educational requirements. Each state has its own licensing process for nurses, but most require a four-year degree as well as board certification. After that, nurses generally have to keep themselves abreast of new developments through continuing education for as long as they maintain their license.

All those years of schooling can seem cost-prohibitive. However, if you are serious about a career in nursing, you may be able to partner with a local hospital or medical practice. They may start you out in a minor position, such as an aide or a phlebotomist so that you can work in the medical field while going to school. Larger medical corporations may even offer tuition reimbursement in some cases.

While it can be quite difficult to juggle the demands of a medical job with nursing school, it is possible. If you feel called to nursing, it may be time to speak to people who work in the profession, spend a few days working with patients and looking into educational requirements for your dream career.