Take advantage of all your college years offer.
Not only are you learning the technical skills necessary to become a qualified practice nurse, but you have the time to build professionalism for your career. So much depends on how well you present yourself to future employers, colleagues and patients. You need to practice soft skills, expand your world of ideas and gain experiences to teach you to work in an evolving and diverse community. Here are some ways to get a head start as a true professional.
One way to learn the art of professionalism is to work while you are in college. Your classes take up much of your time but a part-time position is worth the extra effort. Seek a job in the medical field as an assistant or as a hands-on volunteer. Expose yourself to the real world of medicine and nursing. Observe the actions of other workers and find good role models among them. Your experiences dealing with the various diverse persons you meet will help you refine skills while you are still a student.
Talk with your professors on how to best prepare for every aspect of your nursing career. They can point out the finer points of the discipline and guide you in developing both the clinical and non-clinical skills you will need. Ask them for honest feedback regarding your class performance. Encourage them to point out issues in your work that need improvement. It is sometimes tough to hear, but take their constructive criticism seriously and use the strategies they give you to become better.
Develop your self-discipline.
This one trait is the hallmark of professionalism. A good work ethic is imperative in all fields but particularly in one as challenging and demanding as nursing. Identify the issues that might hold you back. Some problems that plague many students are absenteeism, tardiness, disorganization and too slow a work pace. If you struggle with any of these, you must work to overcome it. Make it a priority to always arrive on time, prioritize your work tasks and be highly productive.
Cultivate your communications skills.
Nursing is all about gathering information to know how to best care for patients. You must also know how to decipher the conversations of many people of various backgrounds. Consider learning Spanish as it is the most spoken language in the United States after English. Work hard on active listening skills such as looking the other person in the eye while she talks, focusing on her speech rather than crafting your response, pausing to comprehend before you reply and repeating back her comments in your own words.
Join a professional organization
Join a professional organization to expand your network and learn from others in similar positions to yourself. You are probably already familiar with the Health Occupations Students Association (HOSA) but your state likely has other agencies that accept practical nursing students. Don’t just become a member, take advantages of all the opportunities provided such as competitions, professional forums to learn from and contribute to and look for the opportunity to meet and develop a relationship with a mentor.
Do things other respected professionals do to become like them. Give back to your local community by donating time to good causes. Spend time serving the underserved in your area. Attend civic meetings and involve yourself in local issues. Build a strong reputation as an ethical, engaged member of society. Don’t do things that harm your professional image such as posting inappropriate comments or images on social media. You will come under the scrutiny of others so be your best self always.
Professionalism is learned behavior. Immerse yourself in a variety of experiences, face a myriad of challenges and be open, honest and transparent. Look to others who serve the nursing field well and strive to become a valued person in your future career. To learn more, please contact us.