How to Retrain for a Career in Nursing Later in Life

By on November 27, 2020
nursing

The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has led many people to reconsider their jobs, how they spend their free time, and the course of their lives more generally. It has sparked a desire in many people to embark on a new career, whether because they want to find more job fulfillment, move into a field that is more focused on helping people, or to benefit from greater financial stability and job security in nursing. 

One of the fields that can offer all of these advantages and more in nursing. With job prospects set to continue to grow over the next decade, it’s an ideal sphere to move into if you want to have a meaningful career in the healthcare industry. You can enjoy high levels of employability, a good salary, plus the chance to make genuine connections with your patients and help to save lives. Here’s what you need to know about retraining to become a nurse later in life.

What does the role of a nurse involve?

The role of a nurse is extremely varied, as nurses are involved in all aspects of a patient’s overall healthcare. Working as part of a multidisciplinary team, you could be employed in a hospital, school, clinic, pharmacy, care home, or many other types of facilities. You could even visit patients in their own homes. The exact tasks you will complete will vary depending on where you work and the types of patients you see, but you can expect to do many of the following:

  • Review, maintain and update medical records
  • Take detailed medical histories
  • Perform diagnostic tests and physical examinations of patients
  • Coordinate between different departments and specialists
  • Prepare patients for treatments
  • Prepare rooms and medical equipment for procedures
  • Administer medications to patients
  • Monitor the condition of patients, for example, to check for adverse reactions or side effects
  • Educate patients and their families about health conditions, healthy lifestyles, treatment plans, and more
  • Provide emotional support to patients and their families

Many nurses choose to specialize in a certain type of care, for example working with certain age groups like children or the elderly, or focusing on specific health conditions such as cancer or diabetes. As you progress you could also choose to move into a more administrative or managerial role, or even focus on teaching or research. This makes nursing a very versatile career, with plenty of options for tailoring your position to suit your passions and lifestyle.

What skills do I need to be a good nurse?

It takes certain characteristics and skills to excel in the field of nursing. Firstly, good communication skills are key. You’ll be dealing with patients of all ages, from all walks of life, and in differing stages of health, and will need to be able to help them understand potentially complicated healthcare issues. Plus you’ll also be liaising with doctors and other healthcare professionals on a daily basis.

Attention to detail is also vital, ensuring that you can carry out instructions perfectly when it comes to patient care, measuring drug dosages, and maintaining accurate patient records. In addition, having high levels of organization and time management skills will make carrying out the job much easier.

It’s important to remember that nursing is not an easy job. You’ll need to have patience when dealing with difficult patients, and the stamina to cope with long working hours. Flexibility and problem solving will be vital for dealing with the inevitable unexpected issues that crop up, while emotional stability will help you handle stressful and sometimes upsetting situations.

Finally, of course, there are attributes such as empathy, respect, honesty, and compassion, which no nurse should be without. These enable you to support your patients as they go through treatment, in what could maybe be the most difficult time of their lives while offering the very best standards of care.

How do I train to become a nurse?

There are a few different options for getting qualified as a nurse, but in order to become licensed in any state, you will need to graduate from an accredited nursing program. Typically you will need to get a nursing degree, during which you’ll have a mixture of classroom-based learning and hands-on clinical training. Many of these programs can be completed online these days, with the clinical requirements being carried out in a relevant medical setting near you. This means that you can fit your studies around your existing work and family commitments.

Those who wish to take their nursing career further might like to study for a Master of Science in Nursing. This qualifies you to work in advanced roles, such as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), and enjoy greater autonomy plus a correspondingly higher salary. Again many of these nurse practitioner programs can be completed online from the comfort of your own home.

After graduating you will need to pass a national exam to demonstrate your skills and earn your nursing license. Once you have your license you’ll be ready to start work! In your new role you will be expected to complete regular continuing education courses in order to keep your knowledge and skills up-to-date. You will also have the opportunity to take further certifications in areas of nursing that you find most interesting, in order to move on to more specialist job roles.

Am I too old to train as a nurse?

Definitely not! The great thing about nursing is that age is no barrier to the job. In fact, some patients actually prefer to have an older nurse because they feel they are more knowledgable and trustworthy. Plus you often get more out of returning to study at this stage in your life, thanks to your accumulated life experience and maturity. 

You have many years of work ahead of you, so why not invest a little time and effort now to ensure that you can spend those years doing a job that you love? There’s absolutely no reason why age should stand in the way of your dreams.

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How to Retrain for a Career in Nursing Later in Life