Should You Go to Nursing School?
This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Giebien Na in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
Are you interested in learning more about becoming a nurse, or are you on the fence and not sure if it’s the right career for you? In this post, we discuss going to nursing school to become a nurse, including the everyday responsibilities of nurses, different nursing specialties, and what to look for in a nursing school.
Are you considering nursing as a potential career? Nurses do much more than people are often aware of, so if you are interested in joining the nursing field, you should understand the full scope of what nurses do. Although their responsibilities vary by specialty, a successful nurse must be able to perform a variety of tasks, including caring for patients, administering medication and shots, taking general health measurements, and even participating in family mediation. In some cases, nurses take on the same responsibilities as doctors, so there are crucial skills that all nurses must learn.
These include hard and soft skills. Hard skills encompass strong medical and practical knowledge: a background in urgent and emergency care, familiarity with patient and family education, and technological knowledge. Equally important are the soft skills: empathy, compassion, and other interpersonal skills that nurses need when working with patients and families. A big part of a nurse’s job is being as reassuring and psychologically supportive as possible so patients feel safe and in good hands.
There are a variety of different nursing degrees that students can pursue. To become a licensed nursing assistant (LNA), also called a certified nursing assistant (CNA), you must complete an approved nursing assistant program and take knowledge and skills evaluations. The minimum age to become an LNA/CNA is between 16 and 18 years old. Some students become certified and work part-time as nursing assistants while still in high school, gaining real-world experience at a young age.
Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) work under the supervision of registered nurses (RNs), advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), and doctors to provide basic and routine patient care. Becoming an LPN requires graduating from an accredited LPN program, typically a two-year program at a technical school or community college.
RNs have many more responsibilities than assistants. They provide critical healthcare by performing physical exams, administering medications, and coordinating with other medical professionals.
No matter which nursing certification you pursue, medicine is a field that requires significant personal and academic investment. Unlike some other disciplines and industries, it’s a bit harder to pivot out of the medical field because it’s so specialized. Therefore, students who go into nursing should be confident in their decision.
Nursing schools are fairly competitive, so students should take their time and consider all their options when applying to nursing school. One aspect to take note of is the length of each program that you’re considering. Another is how much access you’ll have to real-world experience during that time.
You should also consider the nearby hospitals when weighing your nursing school options. For example, nursing students at Duke University learn in the top-ranked hospital in North Carolina, which is a big plus for students pursuing nursing there.
However, the prestige of a school should not outweigh other considerations. A university’s reputation is not as important as finding a school that’s a good fit for you and your career goals. It may be tempting to consider a school’s graduate programs and assume that there will be a trickle-down effect to the undergraduate program. But this isn’t always true, so focus on your undergraduate career first while choosing a nursing program.