Becoming a nurse can be exciting but time-consuming as well. Demand is high but so is the competition. Anyone who decides to pursue a career in this field should prepare by obtaining higher education and as much experience as possible. Additionally, find a way to stand out from an extensive pool of qualified candidates. Due to the nursing shortage, this might be a good time to become a nurse. Such a rewarding career takes time to prepare for and you need every tool available to make you even more valuable. Here are some tips that might help you achieve that.

1. Become an RN and get a BSN

The fastest way of becoming a Registered Nurse is getting a Associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) since the program only takes from two to three years. After getting your ADN, you will be required to take the national licensing examination, called NCLEX-RN. Once you pass this exam, you will have become a Registered Nurse.

RNs that do not already have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing might want to consider going back to school to get one. Many hospitals are nowadays encouraging their nurses to get this degree, as it will further their knowledge, making them more valuable assets. When it comes to promotions, nurses who already have a BSN might be considered first than those who do not. Additionally, for those nurses who wish to become a Advanced Practice Nurse (APRN), the BSN is usually a requirement.

Getting a BSN will take about 4 years at a university, although some schools have an RN-to-BSN program that will help you get it in as little as two years. Doing so can positively impact your nursing career and improve your chances of advancing further in your field.

2. Market yourself

After you applied for a nursing position, do not just settle with that. Reaching out to other people might heklp you receive more job opportunities than applying for a job. Nurses that engage with their community might discover job openings before they are posted. Try to stay active within your community and network when you can. Attend conferences, career fairs, keep in touch with other members, etc.

To further your chances, create an online presence using LinkedIn, Indeed, and other career-related platforms. Employers will usually check candidates’ social media accounts before deciding, so make sure it is updated and professional. Nowadays, many think that they should hide their social media presence. We disagree. Social media is so mainstream that we reccomend candidates utilizing it to their advantage. However, this is only effective if you use it to showcase job-related items. A photo of you at the pool won’t do much for your job search. Get a professional-looking picture and engage with others online. Use your profile to let employers know you better. If done right, these profiles are an excellent way to market yourself.

3. Prepare for the interview

Interviews can make anyone feel uncomfortable and nervous. That is why it is important that you prepare yourself for the occasion; if you feel prepared, you will feel more calm and chances are your interview will go much better.

In order to do so, you can practice your answer to common questions like “What do you contribute to your patients as a nurse?”, “What interests you about working here?“, “Why did you decide being a nurse?”, “What are some of your strengths and weaknesses?”. You do not want to sound like you have memorized your responses, so practice a few times but keep it natural and spontaneous.

Be prepared to not only answer questions but also to ask some. Doing so shows the employers that you have some research on them and that you are interested.

Ultimately, your goal is to describe yourself as someone good for the job, how your nursing education has prepared you for the job, and what you expect to learn from this position. RNs are in demand, therefore if you are able to conduct a positive interview, you better your chances of landing the job.

nurse injecting a needle into a young man's arm

4. Shadow a nurse

If the interview allows, you might consider asking to the employers if it is possible to shadow a nurse. This could be great way to get to know the environment in which you would be working in, the people you would be surrounded with, and what kind of tasks you would be performing. It also shows interest and commitment to the employers. Being able to shadow a nurse can be a useful experience. You could learn about what day-to-day operations look like and how nurses react to different situations in a hospital.

If you get this opportunity, try to make the most out of it. This is your chance to ask questions to someone who currently has the job you trying to get. Be observant and curious without interfering. Use this moment to picture yourself in the job and ultimately decide if this is where you want to be.

5. Answer ads using the right keywords

Whenever you decide to apply for a job posting, make sure your resume and cover letter have the keywords the advertisement wants, as many companies digitally screen applications for the exact keywords they are looking for.

If you have applied to many postings but have not gotten a response or if you cannot find what you are looking for, get in touch with RNa Partners. This is precisely our field of expertise, as we will match qualified nursing candidates to the right opportunities.