Deciding to become a nurse is a major commitment of time and money, whether you decide to attend a traditional program or a nursing school with content delivered online. Nursing school has a reputation for being tough, for good reason. Nurses are on the front lines of patient care, and they have to be ready to deal with the stress and challenges common to nursing jobs and environments.
Are You Cut Out to Be a Nurse?
First, ask yourself if nursing is really the right career for you. Here are some questions to consider before enrolling in a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program.
- Are you comfortable in hospitals and other healthcare environments?
- Can you handle experiencing and dealing with bizarre odors, a bit (or a lot) of blood, urine, feces, death and the suffering of others on a daily basis?
- Do you have compassion and empathy for other people, regardless of their circumstances?
- Do you have a thirst for knowledge and learning?
- Can you work well as part of a team?
- Can you set aside your problems when you go to work and fully focus on patients’ needs?
- Do you have, or are you willing to develop, the physical endurance to work 8-to-12-hour shifts on your feet?
- Can you remain patient and calm in hectic and unpleasant circumstances?
- Do you have, or can you develop, the communication skills to function in any environment?
How to Become a Nurse
After you decide you have the disposition to become a nurse, your next decision is the educational path you want to pursue: a diploma in nursing, an associate degree in nursing or a BSN. To become a registered nurse (RN), you will need to graduate from an approved nursing education program, pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) and satisfy any other requirements for licensing as set forth by your state’s board of nursing.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many employers may require a bachelor’s degree in nursing, especially large healthcare institutions like hospitals. Each BSN program has its own admission requirements you will have to meet to be accepted into the program.
One option is an online BSN program. Students typically select online programs for their convenience and flexibility. Online programs also have challenges such as limited face-to-face interaction with classroom instructors and other students. But the online forums, virtual classrooms and multimedia material can more than make up for it.
Skills for Completing Nursing School
Whether you choose to attend nursing school online or in a traditional classroom environment, you will need a variety of skills and intentional practices to succeed in a sustainable way, including:
- The ability to prioritize and effectively schedule your time
- Good study habits
- A support network — family and friends — who are there when you need them
- The mental fortitude to keep going when you feel frustrated and want to give up
- The ability to practice the self-care you need to stay healthy, including remembering to have fun
While completing nursing school online may seem daunting, the rewards of a nursing career can outweigh the trials of getting through school. Nurses can make a huge difference in people’s lives, caring for them when they are most vulnerable.
Nurses also earn above average salaries. The median annual wage for registered nurses in May 2021 was $77,600, according to BLS. Comparatively, the median annual wage for all occupations in May 2021 was $45,760. If you have the disposition for nursing and you want to earn a good living while helping people, it may be time to commit to nursing school.