Ready... Jet Set... Nurse!
Welcome Aboard Newly Grads!
Before I spill out the ugly truth on what to expect after college, let me first congratulate everybody for getting this far! I know that at some point in your life there comes a moment wherein you want to shift to a non-medical related course. Yup! Bachelor of Science in Nursing is tough. Four years of non-stop exams both oral and written, return demonstrations, projects, case presentations, hundreds of clinical hours to fulfill, etc.
What to expect after nursing school? Well, just because you got that diploma honey that doesn’t mean that you’re already a full pledge nurse. Say hello to the Nursing Board Examination – a test that will make or break your career. Some were blessed to nail it with one take, some conquer it by a second or third try, and sadly, many didn’t get lucky enough no matter how hard they tried.
Well let’s brighten up a bit. Here are some tips that could help you jump start your nursing career:
1.Pass that board exam! I don’t mean to be pessimistic but to tell you honestly, opportunities are scarce if you are not a licensed nurse. Focus on reviewing well and don’t give up no matter how many times you fail. Give yourself at least a three year window, if after that and still you didn’t reach your goal… Maybe nursing is not meant for you, therefore, it’s time to seek another career option.
2.Upgrade your skills! Once you’re on the field, you will realize that 80% of the things you will encounter were not taught in nursing school. Invest on attending trainings like BLS, ACLS, IV therapy, and PALS and make sure that it is conducted by internationally known organizations like the American Heart Association (AHA). They may be quite costly but trust me it will add up to your resume especially if you want to work in the largest government hospitals in the Middle East.
3.Purse a Master’s Degree! In a country where there is an oversupply of unemployed nurses, you should always have an edge among your competitors and the best way to do it is to obtain a master’s degree. Well it’s not really an obligatory point of view especially if you don’t have the time and money to do it.
4.Decide on where you want to practice your career! As early as you enroll in nursing school, you must develop a career path by asking yourselves: Where will I be 5 years from now? What do I want to become? How much do I want to earn? If you want to serve the Filipino people, I suggest you better do it in a government institution where the benefits and privileges are far better than private hospitals. Either way, you will start at the very bottom with little or no salary for quite a long period of time. If you want to join the ever growing number of pinoy expats, then you must decide on which country by also taking into consideration the culture that comes with it and if you can keep up with their standards of nursing practice. Every country has different sets qualifications and examinations for nurses who want to work for them. Here are some examples:
- Saudi Arabia – Saudi Prometrics
- Qatar – Qatar Prometrics
- Dubai – DHA
- Abu Dhabi – HAAD
- Australia – IELTS and Bridging Course
- UK – IELTS and NMC
- Ireland – IELTS and NMBI
- Canada – CRNE
These exams are both intellectually and financially demanding. So it’s ideal to settle on which country you think suits you so that you can prepare early.
5.Organize your documents! Have a folder that contains all your diplomas, training certificates, licenses, and most importantly, always have a ready CV which you can easily hand out to a prospective employer. In this way, you could also keep track on how much you have progressed already from neophyte to elite.
6.Be ruthless! I’ve been working as a nurse for only 5 years but it feels as if it’s a decade already especially at the end of a 12 hour shift wherein I haven’t sat on a chair neither a toilet. There are numerous occasions wherein I am willing to quit already… When I am blamed why the food delivered by the dietitian was smelly, when I am blamed of blanket shortage during winter, when I am blamed because the doctor forgot to make rounds, when I am blamed why the previous shift forgot to instruct the patient NPO, and when I am blamed why there are no available crutches in the stock room. Yup! I’m already thinking of revising the song of Akon made solely for all the nurses. Sorry, blame it on me! My point is, you need to be strong in all aspects and you got to have a lot of patience to handle your patients. You must maintain your equilibrium and develop a talent of holding back your tears when you got scolded by a doctor, patient, significant other of the patient, your colleague, your superior… Oh well… By almost everyone.
Well, I hope I didn't ruin your expectations with some of the negative details that I've mentioned. But hey! Every profession has different struggles and there is no way to sugar coat it. And despite all the hardships, I will still choose to become a nurse all over again. I mean there's no better job in the world but to get paid and legally stab people with sterile needles. Right?