First steps into the world of nursing
There are many career paths open to new nurses but all of them are based on the core values of patient-centred care, says assistant director of nursing Barry Quinn.
There are many career paths open to new nurses but all of them are based on the core values of patient-centred care, says assistant director of nursing Barry Quinn
Nursing is a wonderful profession filled with opportunity, but one that always remains grounded in care and clinical practice.
Almost every day we hear about great technical advances in healthcare, but research shows that people facing illness continue to need clinically competent nurses, who can engage with them and be sensitive to their humanity. To lose sight of this need and this reality is to lose sight of the core of nursing.
The great thing about being a nurse is using our clinical and caring skills to support the health and well-being of those in need. Hearing people’s hopes and concerns, communicating honestly and sensitively, and walking that extra step together form the foundation of a fulfilling nursing career.
If you want to work in acute care, you have many choices, so choose the clinical field you want to work in and a workplace where you think you will be supported and developed and will feel satisfied.
Plenty of opportunity
Nurses are required to be clinically competent, to support and educate, and to lead care safely and efficiently. Whether you choose to work in an emergency department, a medical or surgical ward, an outpatient clinic, theatres, a specialist unit or intensive care, here are just some of the possibilities that lie ahead for you in the hospital setting:
- If you want to focus on clinical expertise, why not consider becoming a ward, theatre or clinic-based nurse, a specialist nurse, a clinical nurse specialist, a nurse practitioner or a consultant nurse?
- If you want to work in education, how about becoming a practice development nurse, a clinical tutor, a lecturer practitioner, a senior lecturer or a professor of nursing?
- If your passion is for leadership, then a ward, theatre or clinic-based team leader, a junior sister or charge nurse, a ward manager, a matron, a lead nurse, a divisional or a corporate nurse might be more for you.
Over the next few years, there will be more creative opportunities and exciting roles for nurses, and even more positions of leadership in the delivery of patient care and support.
But remember: a great nurse knows his or her limitations, and knows when to ask for help. A poor nurse is one who thinks he or she needs to know everything. So spend your first year after registration consolidating your knowledge and putting it into practice wherever you work, and use your mentor, preceptor, manager and the rest of your team to support and guide you.
Having worked in healthcare and nursing for almost 30 years, my advice is this: listen and learn from the personal stories of those you care for, as they will have a lot to teach you. Draw on others’ experiences and you will find yourself developing into an expert, who is ever mindful of the privilege of being able to provide person-centred care.
About the author
Barry Quinn is assistant director of nursing and a visiting senior lecturer at Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust, London