The ultimate guide for your nursing career

Susanna Kahr

It takes a certain level of dedication and emotional intelligence to be a nurse. For this reason, we are all very happy and grateful to have them around. Long hours and difficult patients are just two tiny aspects that go into the entire pool of things nurses have to deal with. If you are a nurse and are still trying to master the job with a few hurdles here and there: You are not alone, and we are here to help! We at kununu have compiled a guide to aid you – no pun intended – in making your journey as a nurse a little easier and better.

Ever thought about the benefits and challenges of working as a nurse?

 Many people who are considering venturing out into nursing might have a decent idea of what that means, and some might know a little less. Even as a nurse yourself, you probably ask yourself what all that actually means for your personal life, career progression, and even just your everyday activities. Nursing offers both benefits and challenges.


Benefit: Nursing offers an opportunity to do good!

 It seems pretty obvious but still important to mention. Hospitals, clinics and all other healthcare facilities would not be able to function without the caring hand and helpful eye of nurses. As a nurse, you know you are helping those in need and speeding up their recovery in one way or another, and this can be a very rewarding feeling. Coming home at the end of your shift knowing you were able to help someone in some way is a great feeling.


Challenge: It requires excellent people skills and patience

As rewarding as it is to be helping people every day, it goes without saying that nurses need to be the type of people that are up for seeing and talking to people every single day. You need excellent people skills and know how to be around them, especially more difficult patients. This requires a lot of patience.


Characteristics you should have to be a good nurse

Knowing what nursing means for your career and how it will affect your life is valid and important, but have you thought about what it qualities a good nurse should have and if the profile fits you? It is no secret that some jobs require a specific set of characteristics. Without those, some jobs are nearly impossible to master.



This is perhaps the most important skill that every great nurse has. Having empathy for patients and their families who are likely going through some of the worst days of their lives makes all the difference. Great nurses have compassion for those they care for and offer them comfort whilst giving them the best level of care.


Communication skills 

Communication skills are important in every job, but they’re even more important for nurses as nurses are the vital link between the doctors and the patients. Based on team and patient feedback, nurses have to be able to make quick decisions and communicate effectively with their patients and families about what is going on. A great nurse also acts as an advocate for their patients by anticipating their needs and making sure that these are truly understood by everyone else.


Different types of nursing careers

Just like there are different types of apples, there are also different types of nursing career. Being a nurse isn’t a simple one-description job with a specific set of tasks. There is a huge range of what you can do and build on throughout your career. This is great to know if you are looking to research about what opportunities are possible, or if you currently are in nursing and want to broaden your horizons.


Registered Nurse (RN)

Working as a registered nurse means assisting physicians in hospitals and a variety of other medical settings like hospices or clinics. RNs perform lots of different tasks related to patient care, case management and treatment planning. It’s no surprise then that RNs are the most in demand because RNs specialize in several areas!


Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)

Licensed Practical Nurses provide basic nursing care and perform a variety of tasks, but under the supervision of an RN or doctor. LPNs and LVNs work in many different healthcare settings including nursing homes and extended care facilities, hospitals, physicians’ offices, and private homes mostly full time. Among the tasks that LPNs and LVNs do are: administering medicine, checking vital signs and giving injections. If you want to make your first step into world of nursing, becoming an LPN or LVN is a great way to start.


Average salary of a nurse

The big question on everyone’s minds is always “What will my pay be?” This question is not only relevant, but completely understandable. Nursing will require a lot of hours and a lot of investment; it’s more than human to what to know what you will be paid.


Average Wages for Registered Nurses

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average mean salary for LPNs and LVNs was $46,240 in 2018. The top paid LPNs and LVNs were paid an average wage of $62,160.

Nursing Care facilities hire the most LPNs and LVNs, but the top paying industries are Junior Colleges ($62,050), Agencies, Brokerages and other insurance related companies ($55,180) and Insurance carriers ($54,780).

The top paying states for LPNs and LVNs are Rhode Island ($59,130), Massachusetts ($58,990), Alaska ($58,250), Nevada ($57,140) and Connecticut ($56,970). And the top paying areas in the US are San Francisco Oakland Hayward CA ($65,410), San Jose Sunnyvale Santa Clara CA ($63,650) and Santa Rosa CA ($62,480). So it looks like you might also want to think of moving to sunny California!


Tips for your next nursing job interview

You’ve almost made it and you’re at the last steps. All that is left is the final interview that stands in the way between you and your future nursing career. What questions do you ask? What questions are you expecting? Will the company have what you are looking for? Are you what the company is looking for?


Update your LinkedIn and other social media profiles

In the weeks/days leading up to your interview it’s highly likely that the hiring manager or interviewer will google you to find out more about you, your personality, your credentials and experience. So, now’s the time to have a look at your social media profiles to see if they truly reflect you, your personality, your skills and your achievements. Try to be strategic, but authentic, and post or update your profile/s to include topics that you’re proud of and happy to be interviewed about and get rid of anything that might give your potential employer the wrong impression.


Do your research

The more you know about your potential employer, your interviewer, and the job that you’re interviewing for, the better. Chances are, you’ve already put in a lot of research prior to applying for the job, but now’s the time to revisit your notes and remind yourself what it was about this particular company or job that appealed to you. Take a look at reviews on kununu to see what current and former employees have to say, read up on any research that the hospital/healthcare clinic is involved in and make a list of everything you’d bring to the company so you can persuade them to hire you.


Most common interview questions for a nurse

The interview process is always a hurdle. We have a list of 12 interview questions that are common for nursing and want to make sure you rock your next interview!


Why did you decide to become a nurse?

Example answer: “I was inspired to build my career in nursing because I come from a long line of nurses. Growing up in my family and seeing how much my parents loved what they did every day was both inspiring and motivating to me. I am interested in this job because I feel that I have learned a lot from them about what it means to solve problems, care for patients and make a difference in people’s lives.”


What is the most rewarding aspect of this job for you?

Example answer: “The most rewarding aspect of being a nurse is the feeling that you can really do something to make someone’s life better. Whether it be supporting your patient to process a difficult diagnosis, or making a patient more comfortable, or interacting with a patient’s family and friends. It’s an amazing feeling to think that you can really make a difference every day.”


Tips for getting ahead in nursing

If you are already working as a nurse but are ready to next steps to further your career, you might find yourself in a bit of a stump. It isn’t always easy or logical to figure out where to go and how to get there. Trying new roles and finding new angles might be nerve wracking, which is exactly why we have 5 tips how to get ahead.


Think outside the box

Nursing used to be a more traditional hospital-based job, but this has changed over the past few decades. Nursing today takes place in other settings like the home community and specialist clinics, there’s even the chance to become a travel nurse and work in hospitals and clinics throughout the country. After you become an RN, you can take your career in many different directions. You can work in the justice system as a legal nurse consultant, or in trauma care or wound care. You could also transition into case management, population-care coordination, wellness coaching, disease management or ambulatory care. Or, if you wanted to try something completely new, you could work as a writer, teacher or a researcher.


Try a new role

If you’ve already racked up years of experience in a specific nursing role, you might want to think about taking on a new challenge so you can expand your skills. Working in a new department, with different colleagues doesn’t mean starting again, it means building on the foundations you’ve already established. You should bear in mind, though, that it can take 3-6 months to master a new skill, so be kind to yourself and allow yourself the time to get comfortable with everything.



We hope this guide helps you start and progress into a long and happy nursing career. We know it isn’t easy to know everything all at once and we are here to help to make your time nursing as wonderful as it can possibly be.



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