11 Tips for Learning How to Be a Nurse

contributed by Ronald McCarthy

Embarking on the path to becoming a nurse is a commendable journey, filled with challenges, learning experiences, and profound personal and professional growth. 

Nursing is not just a career but a calling that requires compassion, resilience, and a dedication to lifelong learning. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to advance your career, here are essential tips to guide you through learning how to be a nurse.

1.  Understand the Commitment

Embarking on a nursing career is more than just a professional choice; it’s a commitment to making a difference in the lives of others. This path demands not only intellectual rigor but also a profound emotional and physical dedication. Nurses often work in challenging environments that require quick thinking, resilience, and the ability to remain calm under pressure. Acknowledging this commitment early on will prepare you for the rewarding yet demanding nature of the profession.

 2.  Choose the Right Nursing Program

Selecting the right nursing program is a decision that lays the groundwork for your future career. Look for programs that offer a comprehensive curriculum, experienced faculty, and ample clinical exposure. Accreditation is key, as it ensures the program meets high standards of nursing education and allows you to sit for licensure exams. Consider your learning style, career goals, and life circumstances to decide between traditional classroom settings and flexible online options. The right program will not only educate you but also inspire and challenge you to excel.


3.  Consider Advanced Degrees

The nursing field offers a wide array of pathways for those seeking to expand their expertise and impact. Pursuing advanced degrees, such as online MSN PMHNP programs like the one offered by Rockhurst University, opens up opportunities in specialized fields like psychiatric mental health nursing. These programs not only deepen your clinical skills but also equip you with leadership, research, and educational capabilities that can elevate your career.

Advanced degrees can lead to roles in management, academia, or specialized practice areas, significantly broadening your scope of influence within healthcare. Making a commitment to further education is a testament to your dedication to the profession and your desire to contribute to the well-being of your patients at a higher level.

4.  Gain Hands-On Experience

Theoretical knowledge forms the backbone of nursing education, but hands-on experience brings lessons to life. Clinical rotations are a critical component of nursing programs, offering you the chance to apply what you’ve learned in real-world settings. These experiences provide a glimpse into various specialties and healthcare environments, helping you discover your interests and strengths. Embrace every opportunity for hands-on learning, from simulations and lab work to clinical rotations, to build your skills and confidence.

 5.  Build a Strong Academic Foundation

A strong academic foundation is crucial for navigating the complexities of healthcare. Nursing requires a deep understanding of the sciences, from anatomy and physiology to microbiology and pharmacology. Dedicate yourself to mastering these core subjects, as they will inform your clinical decisions and patient care. Utilize study groups, tutoring, and additional resources to reinforce your learning. Remember, a solid academic base will support your entire nursing career.

 6.  Embrace Lifelong Learning

Nursing is a dynamic field, with advances in medicine, technology, and best practices continually reshaping the landscape. Embrace the concept of lifelong learning early in your career. This mindset will motivate you to stay current with the latest research, pursue continuing education opportunities, and adapt to new challenges. Lifelong learning is not just about fulfilling professional requirements; it’s about continuously improving your ability to care for patients and making meaningful contributions to the field.

 7.  Develop Soft Skills

Nursing goes beyond medical knowledge and clinical skills; it deeply involves the heart and soul in caring for patients. Developing soft skills such as empathy, communication, and critical thinking is crucial. These skills enable you to connect with patients, understand their concerns, and advocate for their needs effectively. Moreover, teamwork and leadership abilities are vital in the collaborative environment of healthcare settings. Strengthening these soft skills enhances patient care quality and fosters a positive workplace culture, making you a valuable member of the healthcare team.

8.  Join Professional Organizations

Engaging with professional nursing organizations can significantly enrich your career. These platforms offer networking opportunities, resources for professional development, and insights into industry trends and advocacy. Membership can also provide access to exclusive job postings, scholarships, and continuing education courses. Being part of a professional community fosters a sense of belonging and offers support throughout your career’s various stages, from novice to expert nurse.

9.  Take Care of Yourself

Nursing is a rewarding yet demanding profession, often requiring long hours and emotional resilience. It’s crucial to prioritize self-care to maintain your well-being and prevent burnout. Implementing healthy lifestyle choices, seeking support when needed, and finding balance between work and personal life are essential strategies. Remember, taking care of yourself is not selfish; it’s necessary to ensure you can provide the best care for your patients.

 10. Seek Mentorship

Finding a mentor can be a game-changer in your nursing career. A mentor offers guidance, support, and insight based on their experiences, helping you navigate challenges and grow professionally. Whether it’s through formal mentorship programs or organic relationships within your workplace, seek out individuals who inspire you and are willing to invest in your development.

11. Stay Patient and Persistent

The path to becoming a skilled and compassionate nurse is filled with challenges, learning curves, and moments of doubt. Staying patient and persistent through the ups and downs is key. Embrace each experience as an opportunity to learn and grow, and remember why you chose this path. Your passion for helping others and making a difference will keep you motivated and drive you toward success.


Becoming a nurse is a journey of continuous learning and growth. It offers the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others, providing care and compassion in their times of need. By following these tips and embracing the challenges and rewards of the nursing profession, you can build a fulfilling career that aligns with your passion for helping others.