Preparing to be a Nurse
From Scrubs to Nurse Jackie to Chicago Med, You've seen nurses portrayed on TV. Sure, they wear scrubs and carry stethoscopes around their necks, but what does a registered nurse do, exactly? During a 12-hour shift, a nurse can see dozens of patients, experience birth and death, and make life-changing decisions in seconds for those in their care. Nurses are expected to juggle physical pressures, emotional situations, and at times, mentally taxing experiences. Nurses, particularly ones who are just beginning their careers, often work long hours and have grueling schedules. In addition, they must be adaptable and ready for whatever comes their way. For these reasons, it takes a special type of person to be a successful nurse.
Do you have what it takes to be a nurse?
If you are interested in a nursing career, it's important to understand the essential functions of a nurse as well as the traits that will help you along the way.
Essential Functions of a Nurse:
- Lift 10-25 lbs Frequently
- Lift 26-50 lbs Occasionally
- Carry 10-25 lbs Occasionally
- Push/Pull up to 50 lbs Occasionally
- Squat/Kneel Occasionally
- Wrist Pronation/Supination Constantly
- Wrist Flexion/Extension Constantly
- Sit Occasionally
- Stand/Walk Constantly
- Crawl Infrequently
- Back Flexion Constantly
- Back Extension Occasionally
- Back Rotation Constantly
- Neck Flexion Constantly
- Neck Extension Occasionally
- Neck Rotation Frequently
- Reaching Above Shoulder Frequently
- Use of Fingers and Hands Constantly
- Repeated Bending and Reaching Frequently
- Ability for Rapid Mental & Muscular Coordination Simultaneously Constantly
- Near Vision Required
- Hearing (aid permitted)
Students must be able to observe demonstrations and learn from experiences in the basic sciences, including but not limited to, anatomy, physiology and microbiology laboratory situations. Students must be able to observe and learn from experiences in the clinical nursing laboratory such as the following examples: accurately read gradients/calibrations on a syringe; measure medications accurately; accurately recognize color changes on chemical reaction strips; assess heart, breath, abdominal sounds; assess normal and abnormal color changes in the skin; observe pupil changes; and observe digital or waveform readings. All nursing students admitted to Laramie County Community College Nursing Program must be able to meet these standards with or without accommodation(s).
Communications include not only speech but also reading, writing and computer usage, including handheld digital access. Students must be able to communicate accurately and effectively with patients, caregivers, physicians, other health professionals, clinical facility staff, faculty and staff, peers, and the community in general in order to elicit information, describe changes in mood, activity and posture, and perceive nonverbal communications.
Students should have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion, and other diagnostic maneuvers. Students should be physically able to collect specimens and perform basic tests (such as glucose finger stick, urine dipstick). Students should be able to execute motor movements reasonably required to provide general care and emergency treatment to patients. Example of emergency treatment reasonably required of nurses are cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), administration of intravenous (IV) medication, application of pressure to stop bleeding, and assist in moving and lifting patients using proper body mechanics. Such actions require coordination of both gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium and using tactile and visual senses.
Students must be able to comprehend and interpret documents written in English. Students should have cognitive abilities including measurements, calculation, reasoning, analysis, and synthesis. Critical thinking is the ability to synthesize knowledge and integrate the relevant aspects of a client’s history, physical exam findings and diagnostic studies. Problem solving, the critical skill demanded of nurses, requires all of these intellectual abilities. In addition, the student should be able to comprehend three dimensional relationships and to understand the spatial relationships of structures in order to understand normal and abnormal anatomy and physiology.
Students must possess the emotional health required to utilize their intellectual abilities fully, exercise good judgment, complete all responsibilities attendant to the nursing diagnosis and care of patients promptly, and the development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients and their families. Students must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively under stress. They must be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility, and to learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of many patients. Compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal communication skills, interest and motivation are all personal qualities that should be assessed during the education process. As a component of nursing education, a student must demonstrate ethical behavior including adherence to the professional nursing code and the LCCC and LCCC Nursing Program students conduct codes.
These standards were adapted from the University Of Kansas School Of Nursing Technical Standards for Admission.
Traits of Effective Nurses:
- Good communication skills
- Caring attitude toward patients, peers and other individuals you may encounter
- Interest in working with people
- Openness and a non-judgmental attitude
- Desire for a career which is continually changing and evolving
- High motivation to achieve
- Ability to think and act under extreme stress
- Ability to solve problems with limited resources
- Realization that nursing and nursing education are demanding physically, mentally and emotionally
Due to the demands of the nursing program, student employment and other college elective courses should be approached with caution. Students are committed 3-4 full 8-hour days a week for nursing classes. Typically, students have 8-hour clinical experiences 2 days a week and 1 full day of class. Students also have exams every 3 weeks. Students may also have additional time requirements outside of these days throughout a semester.
Expectations for Nursing Students:
- Classroom attendance is expected and accountability for knowledge and assignments is the student’s responsibility.
- Clinical experiences may be scheduled as early as 6 a.m. or as late at midnight, including weekends.
- Clinical sites are held in a variety of communities and students may need to commute.
- Students are not excused from class or clinical assignments for personal work schedules or elective classes.
- Childcare arrangements, work schedules, and transportation are the responsibility of the student.
LCCC Nursing Program
The ReNEW nursing curriculum at Laramie County Community College allows students 3 options to enter the nursing profession:
- Become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) while you continue to complete the nursing
- Students are eligible take the LPN licensure examination (NCLEX-PN) after completing the first 2 semesters and an elective course.
- Become an Associate Degree Registered Nurse (ADN).
- Students are eligible take the Registered Nurse licensure examination (NCLEX-RN) after graduating from the nursing program.
- Work on your Bachelor of Nursing degree (BSN) while in the LCCC nursing program.
- Students are automatically eligible for the University of Wyoming ReNEW BSN nursing program as part of the acceptance into the LCCC nursing program. Learn more about the ReNEW program.
- Earn your BSN degree in as little as 2 semesters after graduating from the LCCC nursing program.
- Learn more about why a BSN is important.
Nursing is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling careers for those who are interested in pursuing work in the health care field. If you feel nursing is right for you, we would love to see you as a student in the LCCC nursing program.