How to Know if Nursing Is for You: 8 Questions to Ask Yourself

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Wondering how to know if nursing is for you? Consider whether you possess qualities of a nurse and whether you’re prepared to meet the various challenges in nursing. Ask yourself questions like, “Can I set emotional boundaries?” and “Am I prepared for long hours and hard work?”

nursing student with flashlight on mannequine

If you find yourself second-guessing your current career and wishing you’d gone into healthcare instead, it’s not too late. You could use your non-nursing college education as a springboard to apply to the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program or Transfer BSN program pathway at Utica University.

But before you do, you should think carefully about whether you are willing to meet the challenges in nursing. There are many important qualities of a nurse.

You know you’re ready for a career change, but do you have the necessary qualities of a nurse, and are you ready to rise to meet the challenges in nursing? Find a quiet space and plenty of time to think carefully about the following questions. You may also want to talk about them with someone whose opinion you trust.

1. Are You Looking for a Genuine Career Instead of a Job?

Take a close look at how you feel about what you do every day. Do you enjoy it? All jobs include some mundane responsibilities, but if you’re in the right role, those should be exceptions rather than the rule. Can you see yourself with the same organization, or at least in the same type of role, five or ten years from now?

A career path should be just that: a path. It should lead somewhere. It should offer you opportunities to take off in different directions. It should also make you feel excited about meeting challenges. If you feel like you’re stuck in a job with unclear prospects, this might be the perfect time to consider nursing—especially since nursing offers incredibly diverse employment opportunities.

2. Do You Experience Emotional Fulfillment in Serving Others?

Earning a paycheck is one thing, but what really keeps people passionate about their jobs is the feeling of performing highly meaningful work that makes a positive difference in the lives of others. Most nurses enter the profession because they have a strong desire to change others’ lives for the better. This can be a good barometer for how to know if nursing is for you. If a sense of emotional satisfaction is missing from your current work, or if you feel like you’re just going through the motions, that’s another sign that you’re ready for a bigger change.

3. Are You Already Researching Nursing Degree Options?

Have you already started thinking about what you want from a nursing degree program? If you’re an adult learner who already has a bachelor’s degree and is used to earning a steady income, a traditional four-year nursing school may not be in the cards. But there are many non-traditional options to choose from that could give you a jump start on your nursing career and minimize your time away from the workforce.

Utica University’s accelerated nursing program and transfer BSN program in central New York, for instance, prepare you to earn your nursing degree in as few as 16 months. After that point, you would be ready to sit for the NCLEX-RN licensure exam. If you find yourself researching different types of nursing programs, you’re ready to take the next step and talk to an admission representative about nursing school.

Utica ABSN student using laptop

4. Are You Craving the Opportunity to Take Your Career Further with a Specialty?

Nursing is one of those career fields that can take you in completely different directions depending on the specialty you choose. Certainly, many nurses work in traditional hospital settings or ERs, but you’ll also find nurses in home care settings, rehabilitation facilities, long-term care facilities and other non-hospital settings.

Beyond settings, nursing offers a rich diversity of choices. Perhaps you’re passionate about working with kids (pediatric nursing) or cancer patients (oncology nursing). If you’re already giving some thought to the kind of patients you’d like to work with and where you’d like to work, you’ve taken an important first mental step in your nursing journey.

airplane lifting off

Want to learn more about alternative careers for nurses outside the hospital? Explore these 10 options!

5. Are You Prepared for the Challenges in Nursing?

Every career has its challenges, and nursing is no exception. One way to determine if nursing is right for you is to consider whether you might feel pride in your ability to overcome these challenges. Here’s a quick look at some of the challenges in nursing:

  • Long shifts: In some settings, nurses may work standard work hours. However, it’s quite common for nurses in hospitals, particularly in ERs and ICUs, to work three 12-hour shifts per week or four 10-hour shifts per week. This can be challenging, but nurses may find that the additional days off each week actually makes for better work/life balance.
  • Stress: There is no question that nursing can be stressful. Not every patient is pleasant to interact with, and not every patient will survive. It can be difficult to lose a patient and to try to comfort bereaved family members. During these times, it’s essential to turn to your colleagues for support.
  • Physical work: Nursing is physical work! Nurses are on their feet for much of their shifts. They need to lift patients, move beds down hallways and dash from one patient’s room to the next. Fortunately, many hospitals have invested in technology that makes the heavy lifting easier, like motorized hospital beds and hydraulic lifts.

6. Are You Able to Set Emotional Boundaries?

Emotional resilience is one of the most important qualities of a nurse, as is the ability to establish emotional boundaries. Of course, you should still have compassion and empathy for your patients. However, it’s necessary to keep a certain emotional distance for your own protection. Nurses must be able to deal with stressful, sometimes unpleasant situations, such as patients who behave inappropriately or sometimes aggressively, and family members who might be overbearing. You can navigate these situations by relying on your education and by turning to other members of your nursing unit for support and guidance.

7. Have Loved Ones Told You That You’d Make a Great Nurse?

utica nursing student smiling folding arms

Change can be hard, and sometimes you need outside encouragement to take the plunge. As a nursing student—especially if you choose an accelerated nursing program—you’ll rely heavily on the support of those closest to you to help you juggle multiple demands. So if they think you can do it, and they’re supportive and excited about your decision, that’s already half the battle! We can all come up with reasons not to pursue our dreams, but often, the voices telling you to go for it are the ones with your best interests at heart.

8. Are You Ready for a Career Change?

Starting a new career is always daunting. But when that career is nursing, you know you’re making a wise investment—not only in your own future, but in the futures of all the patients you’ll help along the way. Why wait? Utica University is here to help you transition to your new career.

Contact us today by requesting more information online and speak with an admission representative to find out if our ABSN program or BSN transfer program could be the right choice for you. If eligible, you could graduate with your nursing degree in as few as 16 months!

The Ultimate Nursing School Admissions Checklist

Ready for nursing school but stressed about applying? We recommend downloading our free admissions checklist to learn the important ins and outs of applying to accelerated nursing school.

The ultimate nursing school admissions checklist