For those who have a natural inclination to help and provide a better life for others, becoming a care worker could be the perfect career path. It’s not always a straightforward decision, as you may have to go back into education, or take up part-time study. However, for some people, what makes a job truly rewarding is giving back to society.
If this sounds like you, and you believe you are better-suited working in care or healthcare, then here are some aspects of this sector to consider.
Before you start sending out applications for carer roles, it’s important to have some realistic expectations about the industry.
You will need to know that you will be venturing into an emotionally demanding job that, and while rewarding, it will have its challenges. Depending on which type of care you eventually go into, whether that’s as a nurse or a family care assistant, you will need to:
• Build a relationship with your patients, they may want to get to know you too, which will be entirely down to you.
• Completing their housework and chores for them.
• Assisting your patients with formal paperwork and other written documents. Their condition may prevent them from being able to write or read effectively.
• Providing advice for other family members, this may be their first time providing care for a loved one, and as a qualified professional, you are in a position of knowledge and expertise.
• Assisting with basic human functions, as many of your patients won’t be able to do these themselves.
• Helping them to cook and eat, which in turn may involve you helping them to take their medication.
• Sharing interests and helping them to take part in old hobbies.
You will be helping your patients to complete basic tasks that you may take for granted, which can be quite challenging. But, if it is the right role for you, you will find it truly rewarding.
Get Rid of Preconceptions
One of the healthiest mindsets to get into before applying to a nursing position is to rid yourself of any preconceptions. Not all carers are women and male nurses and carers do exist. These stereotypes and preconceptions could hinder your ambitions or even deter you from pursuing your career. Your best approach towards finding out what being a carer or nurse is really like, is to talk to a real person in the profession.
Hollywood will give you a warped, and maybe altogether too glamorous opinion of this line of work.
Another aspect of nursing that cinema frequently gets wrong is how independent carers and nurses are. Don’t believe the portrayal of carers as subservient – particularly if they are a qualified nurse.
Those who work in hospitals may actually be very specialized and have very specialized areas of expertise. Some may be cardiologists or may focus on a particular area of patient care.
Save Up for Tuition
If you are going to get a nursing degree in order to become a carer, then you will need to budget for this. The cost of your tuition could amount to well over over $20,000, which is quite a sizeable investment. The best way to be fully prepared for your education is to save up in advance and put money aside, ready to cover the cost.
Some of the best ways to effectively save up for tuition include:
• Set up a regular payment into a savings account: if the money is automatically taken out of your account, you have no choice but to work around your budgeting.
• Cut out unnecessary transactions. Take a look through your billing history and decide what luxuries can be removed.
• Find a high interest savings account: these are likely to limit your access to them, but if you know that you won’t be studying for a number of years, this buys you time to put money away and gain a sizeable amount of interest on it.
• Change suppliers: opting for cheaper suppliers of your utilities and cell phone network could collectively save you quite a sizeable amount. Browse comparison sites to find out how much extra money you could be pocketing for your future degree.
The best way to discover what the role entails is to chat to other care workers; whether those are nurses or otherwise. They will be able to give you a realistic perspective of what the job involves and how best to start out. Networking can also lead to a bit of mentorship, which will also look great on your resume.
Being able to demonstrate to potential employers or employment institutions that you are devoted to learning more and developing your knowledge, will help to secure your future.
Shadow and Gain Experience
Shadowing another carer or nurse is a great way of showing healthcare institutions that you have an active interest in pursuing this as a career. It will also give you a first-hand experience of what the job really entails. This will help you to measure your expectations and understand what a day in the life truly involves. You can also then ask for some references for future employers, and maybe garner some great and helpful feedback.
Getting experience in care is also vital for giving you some insight of what is to come, and to prove to potential employers that you are indeed devoted. Working in a care home or hospice on the weekend or in the run-up to your education will do wonders for your job prospects.
Show Enthusiasm for the Role
Being a good caregiver is not necessarily just about being about being able to deliver a service of care to an individual, it is about:
• Showing a passion for the position
• Being dependable and reliable
• Being precise (particularly if you are in a nursing role)
• Show a genuine desire to want to help others
The trust that is placed in you as a carer is crucial, as it is essential to keeping patients confident and reassured.
Be Comfortable With Working With All Age Groups
While you may have a preference for which age group you want to work with, you must be prepared to work with all age groups. Getting work experience that reflects your ability to work with all ages will show potential employers that your experience reflects your ability to work with diverse groups of people. You may get to choose which group you work with later down the line in your career path, but in the early years of your progress you should expect to work with multiple demographics.
If the thought of going back into full-time education is making you anxious (if you have financial constraints, for example) know that you don’t actually have to go into full-time education. Institutions such as the Texas Woman’s University have online courses which are ideal for people who have other commitments and cannot launch straight back into a campus university lifestyle.
Part-time education may also work for those who have permission from their employers to take time off for studying.
Be Prepared for Flexibility
The phrase ‘full-time’ may be misleading for some of the work-patterns you find yourself working in. Care work is often shift-based, which also means it’s incredibly flexible. Once you qualify to work in care, you may find yourself planning your shifts around your life or visa versa.
This is because care doesn’t really have a time limit; those who need it probably require assistance 24/7; which means you will be splitting shifts around the clock.
Be Aware of Licensing
Once you have passed your qualifications, you will likely need to obtain a license to practice from the state. If you have any questions, it’s recommended that you contact your state board for more information.
You must not forget to complete this step, as it secures your legal right to work. The state may also carry out some background checks on you, just as a final seal of approval on your suitability to practice.
Prepare for Extra Education
To get into more senior nursing roles, you may need to apply for follow-up postgraduate degrees. These are a necessary means to an end when it comes to climbing up the employment ladder in healthcare. Many of these are possible to do online, although you may prefer to speed up the process by going back into full-time education.
Working in care will be an incredibly fulfilling job if all you have ever wanted to do is improve the quality of life for other people. It’s said that many senior citizens and those with longstanding illnesses genuinely benefit from the company of others. So, with this in mind, when you do sign up to undertake a care or medical role, know that you are not just there to cut up their food and give them their medication.
You are also providing some much-needed company during a potentially bleak and lonely time for your patient, which may just be more profoundly rewarding than you could have ever anticipated.