According to the United States Department of Labor and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for nurses will outstrip most professions between now and 2020. Becoming a nurse is not only a good career move, but a good personal one for many people; you get to spend your life dedicated to helping other people. While empathy is a great characteristic for nursing, naturally you will require educational courses in the segment as well and there are certain courses you can take while in high school to help prepare you for a career in nursing.
There are three areas which will help you immensely as you move through your nursing education and into the field: reading comprehension, communication and science.
Reading comprehension is extremely important, not only for your course work, but also for your career. Being able to read, understand, interpret, and use the information contained in your texts or, eventually, on patient charts or medication for decision-making will be vital to your responsibilities as nurse and care-giver. Not reading with clarity or understanding could result in treatment decisions that endanger your patient’s life.
If your high school doesn’t offer reading comprehension classes, there are lots of websites that offer strategies, practice and even worksheets. Search for “high school reading comprehension” and select the website(s) that best suits your needs.
Communication is one of the most important skills of a nurse. You will need to be able to communicate clearly and concisely in all sides of the equation: to your peers, to medical administration, insurance companies, your patients, and patient’s families.
Coursework that will help you develop these skills in high school would include English and public speaking. The former will provide you with the fundamentals of communicating, and the latter will help you build confidence to speak with a wide variety of people extemporaneously.
There will be many science-related courses in your nursing education, and getting down the basics in high school will not only assist you with your further studies, but it is possible, in some nursing programs, that you might be able to receive some credit for your earlier studies by passing proficiency exams.
If your high school offers them (or if you can take courses from nearby advanced schools and receive high school credit), study the life sciences like biology, anatomy, and physiology. The more biology courses you can take the better. Basic chemistry and math courses will help as well.
Today, there is more emphasis in the medical field on living well; to avoid health problems, so courses in nutrition and healthy lifestyles will also be of benefit.
Basic psychology can be useful in helping to gain a clearer understanding of the people you will be dealing with in your career.
There are two other things you can do while in high school to prepare for a career in nursing. Volunteering in the health care field will give you a practical insight into the experiences you will have in your professional career and also give you a clearer basis for understanding some of the courses you will receive in your education. Many large hospital, VA facilities, and nursing homes have programs for volunteers. Because of licensing regulations, you won’t actually care for patients, but you will get a good overview of the different types of nurses that are in demand and their duties.
Also of benefit would be to engage in extracurricular activities at school. Consider activities that will help you develop further communication skills and learn better skills for working in groups. Take a CPR course. Choose activities that bring you in contact with large groups of diverse personalities.
Preparing for the next step in your educational life is always a good idea, and if you are planning on an education and careers in nursing, taking steps to prepare while still in high school is an excellent idea.