Choosing What Kind Of Nurse To Be
I just graduated from nursing school, and it was difficult to choose what kind of nurse I wanted to be. When you’re a nursing student, it’s sometimes hard to picture yourself working as a “real” nurse. This video highlights my six tips for figuring out what kind of nurse you want to be. It helped make the process easier for me, and I love my first job as an ICU nurse!
Hey y’all, I’m Alley.
I’m a new nurse starting in the ICU. I just passed my boards a couple of weeks ago and I wanna talk to y’all about how to choose what kind of nurse you wanna be when you graduate. All right so I was gathering my thoughts about this topic and I ended up realizing that I wrote my notes on the back of my resume. So I was just doing all this, I’m not an expert. But I lived it, I just lived it so I kind of have these several months that I spent dwelling on it.
So I kind of wanted to make a video on what kind of things you should consider when you’re thinking about what kind of nurse you wanna be. And then if I wanna modify it later I can but I definitely have a fresh perspective on this. I’m definitely starting in the ICU. I always considered myself an ICU nurse for several reasons. But this video isn’t all about me. It is about y’all figuring out what kind of nurses you wanna be.
So I wanna start these tips with number one, some realism. What motivated you to choose nursing as a career? Now I know the canned reasons why people think you should be a nurse. And I think a lot of people write their essays on when they try to get into a nursing school like, “I wanna save people, I want to help people. I’m just a really selfless person.” Those kinds of essays. But it is okay to want to be a nurse for other reasons.
Nursing is the most stable and flexible career that I can think of. Everybody needs nurses, you can move with whatever significant other or family member needs to move for their job. You can move with them and find another job as a nurse in that same field. So it is very flexible and very stable. I want y’all to consider why you got into nursing and choose your first job, what kind of nurse you are based on those parameters. Like maybe as a new grad you really prioritized your schedule and your lifestyle. So you might really want that floor nursing thing where you work there days a week and you have four days off. Or maybe you might think I don’t want the chaos of quite knowing what day I have on or off. You might not wanna work holidays so you may be considering the kinds of nurses that work from eight to four in those settings.
Also when you’re considering what motivated you to choose nursing, also consider if you have any steps you’re thinking about. That could be a nurse practitioner school. You may want to go back for your Ph.D. and become a professor. Or you may want to be a CRNA, a certified nurse anesthetist that works with the anesthesiologist. And usually, if you wanna be a CRNA, you have to, well you don’t have to but it’s good if you have intensive care unit ICU experience. So if what motivated you to choose nursing was an eventual career as a CRNA, for example, you might want to become the kind of nurse that works in the intensive care unit, ICU.
And some people choose nursing because they eventually wanna go to medical school. So think about that kind of flexibility with taking prerequisites to go to medical school and going to those interviews. So all of this is really individualized. But that’s kind of the realism I wanted to put in number one of nursing. What motivated you to choose nursing in the first place? That’s really number one when you’re considering what kind of nurse you want to be.
All right the second tip that I leaned pretty heavily on. Socky. I had to kick my dog out because she was chewing on a bone louder than I had personally ever heard it. We’ll see if that’s popular with her, she might start crying outside the door. The second tip that I personally really leaned on when it came to choosing what kind of nurse I wanted to be is, what interests you?
And that might be kind of a duh moment like, “Okay yes, what interests me?” But the way I like to think about it and explain it to people is, what articles do you click on? Like on social media or on the Internet, if you read a headline healthcare-related, what makes you click on it? Is it adorable neonatal ICU baby success stories? Is it cancer-related? Is it car crashes? That sounds a little morbid but the news reports on it and I think it’s a good idea of what interests you.
Because people don’t normally think about you know I really think trauma and ortho is the way for me to go because I like reading about how people recovered from car crashes. But if you think about what do you normally spend your time clicking on? What do you like to hear about? What success stories make you smile? It is a good way to figure out what interests you in the healthcare field. Where do you insert yourself in a story? What makes you read it and think I wish I knew more, I wish I had been a part of that?
For me, personally, the brain has always been fascinating to me. I would read these young adult novels about how people were aware when they were in a coma. The authors didn’t have that much medical knowledge some of them but some of them it was really cool. Just things to do with the brain and how the brain heals itself after injury was really intriguing to me. So those would be the articles I clicked on. You know turns out man wakes up after 30 years in a coma and thinks he’s in high school again. That is really interesting to me. So a lot of those stories could be found in the intensive care unit and I wanted to be in that room. That’s what made me pursue intensive care unit with kind of a neuro focus.
That book that I really loved as a teenager, I think it was called “If I Stay”. It also had a sequel. There’s some good stuff. Man, I miss reading. So yeah, what interests you? What makes you click on the article? I think that gives you a more objective sense into what would really make you want to get up and come to work. I think the biggest and most obvious example is a lot of nurses knew they wanted to be labor and delivery or mother-baby nurses before they even started considering nursing school. Like that would always be the article they clicked on. Something about new babies. That is a factor in determining what kind of a nurse you wanna be, what interests you?
So my third tip would be, what are your strengths? I think if you look at the age groups of the people you gravitate towards, that’s perfect for considering nursing fields. For example, were you always the one people were calling to babysit? That’s a cliche but it’s true. All the pediatric nurses I know were the babysitters, were the nannies and they lived for that. Maybe you always wanted to be a teacher. Or people would tell you you’d make a good teacher so that older pediatric group. Or maybe that means you should go be a nursing professor if you wanted to be a college professor. Maybe you find that volunteering at longterm care facilities is really fulfilling for you and you could listen to the stories that people have to tell you all day.
I’m very socially awkward or I was, I’m getting a little better. So I always thought I could never volunteer or work in places that they wanna talk to you. But oh my gosh, 90 years of life experience. You could talk to me all day if you had 90 years of life experience. I want to hear those stories. Start looking at nursing careers in those areas.
What are your strengths? What age group do you connect with? What walks of life do you connect with? With nursing, the strengths come from communication. So when I ask what are your strengths? What I’m probably really asking is what are your communication strengths? Where do you feel like you connect with people the most?
All right fourth tip. I’m like cheating, I’m looking at my notes down here. All right fourth tip, this is fun. What career did you consider before you considered nursing? Some people wanted to be a nurse for a long time so it goes maybe all the way back to when they were a kid. If you wanted to be a nurse when you were a kid then congratulations, you’re probably in the right field. But some people, if you go back to when you were a kid then what did you want to be? Did you want to be a firefighter or an EMT? In that case, you might wanna consider things in the emergency field whether that’s the nurses that are on the life flight helicopters or the emergency room. We always need more of those nurses.
Some other careers that you might have considered may not feel like they’re nursing-related but nurses are everywhere. If you wanted to get into technology, some kind of computer-based coding, the healthcare sector needs nurses that start as a nurse and get that floor experience and then go work for those charting companies like Epic, they hire those people.
Maybe you wanted to be a lawyer, there are nurses in the courtroom. Maybe you wanted to go into business. Nurses can really bring some great ideas to the table when it comes to business. When you get to those kind of careers that I would consider a second nursing career. In that case, the kind of nurse you wanna be might be broader, getting that floor nursing experience besides nursing. You’ll want to look into those 12-hour shifts where you can bring that nursing knowledge into wherever you want to go next. So yeah everywhere from the more obvious firefighter to a lawyer, if that was a career you considered or still considering, then that can really influence what kind of nurse you want to be right out of nursing school.
All right, my fifth tip would be to make a list of priorities. I got my cheat sheet out for this one because I wrote some stuff down. A list of priorities that I would consider would be the area of nursing, what we’re considering right now, what kind of nurse you wanna be. Day-shift or night-shift or that weekly schedule? Do you wanna work nine to five? That’s a priority. Hospital or employer? That’s pretty important to me.
I go off of reputation. I like hospitals that are certain magnet status or that I’ve heard have a good patient to nurse ratio. That’s a priority. Location or city is important to a lot of people. If you want to travel around, then you might wanna get that experience to become a travel nurse. So that’ll end up being a priority for you. The fifth one is like a baby priority, money, or salary. That’s location dependent. It’s very market controlled so it won’t be as much of a player for a new nurse.
Usually, if you’re looking at three hospitals that are all down the street, they’re gonna be paying about the same for the kind of nurse that you’re looking into. And a labor and delivery nurse doesn’t typically make less than an ICU nurse, doesn’t typically make more than a medical-surgical nurse or OR nurse, you get the picture. Nurses in Los Angeles, California, and New York City, New York make more money than nurses in Austin, Texas.
Of course, the cost of living in those cities are different so you’ll want to start doing those Google searches and trying to see if you can pin down what kind of salary you’re looking at for each place. But it’s gonna be a little more difficult so that’s why I call that the baby fifth one. Money and salary are important, you gotta eat, you gotta live. But when you’re a brand new grad nurse, you’re not going to have as much negotiating power with your salary right off the bat, it’s pretty standardized.
So my sixth tip, number six is to be okay with changing your mind. You’re not clairvoyant. I could sit here and tell you the typical basic advice like if you really like an experience in clinical than you should be that kind of nurse. Yes and no, maybe that one day you get to shadow in the ICU the nurse you shadow is really busy or really doesn’t want you to be there. I don’t necessarily want to say that you shouldn’t be an ICU nurse because you had a bad few days in the ICU as a student. Know that whatever you choose nursing is flexible enough for you to change your mind. Maybe you’ll get to day one as a nurse on a transplant floor and go it is driving me crazy to gown up in isolation, gown, and gloves all the time.
“Oh my gosh, get me out of here.” That’s okay, you can change your mind. That’s what’s great about nursing. Nursing is like a web, I just went everywhere. It’s really just a web of all these different specialties and areas of nursing where you have more autonomy or maybe you want less autonomy. It’s just a lot to choose from. The idea that you’re gonna make the right choice for you the first time is not guaranteed and that’s totally fine. Being a nurse is a vocation for a lot of people. It can be heavy, it’s a responsibility so it is really a gift that we get to choose what kind of nurse we wanna be. But we also get to change our minds and move around. It’s such a flexible career. So definitely don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
All right those are my six personal rules for figuring out what kind of nurse you want to be as a new grad. It’s a really exciting time for me and I know it is for a lot of people too. If you found this video helpful and you think it would help someone else as well please share it, like, comment, do what we’re supposed to do I guess on YouTube. And I’m really looking forward to talking a bit more about the NCLEX and all those crazy things when you transition from a student nurse into a nurse. It happens really fast. Just let me know what you want to see from me in the future. I can put my Instagram link below and I think I’ll also have a website going up soon that I can kind of get feedback and see what I should best do going forward. Thanks, y’all.