Why Becoming a Caregiver During Nursing School May Benefit You

· 9 min read

As you make your way through nursing school or your nursing career, you may find yourself looking for ways to make extra money, as well as a job that will help you fine tune your nursing skills.

Although nursing requires you to undergo medical training and develop skills that will help clients medically, becoming a caregiver for a non-medical home care company will allow you to fine tune the skills you need in order to become a great nurse. Non-medical caregivers have the opportunity to change and impact the lives of their clients by helping them age comfortably and gracefully at home. If you have the opportunity to do so while gaining more experience for your nursing degree and career, wouldn’t you take it?

What is Caregiving? What do Caregivers Do?

If you are not familiar with the caregiving field, an in-home caregiver is simply someone who assist someone in their home with daily tasks. Caregivers are trained individuals that are capable of supporting an elderly individual or an individual with developmental disabilities. When hired to be someone’s caregiver, that person is entrusted with their well-being and happiness. A caregiver acts as the main line of defense against their client and getting injured, maintaining their health and keeping them comfortable and safe, as well as giving peace of mind to the family members that may have hired the caregiver.

Caregivers can provide a wide range of services to their clients, all of which registered nurses or nursing students are capable of executing with their nursing education and the information that they have been taught through their nursing program. Such services include personal care, medication reminders and meal preparation/nutrition. Other services that caregivers provide their clients include light housekeeping and companionship. Although these services may not directly correlate to nursing and nurse practitioners, they can teach those going through nursing school how to interact with patients in need and how to handle all types of situations.

It is also important to note that a caregiver can care for an elderly individual or a child or adult with developmental disabilities. Since there are two different types of clients, the overall experience and day to day tasks that a caregiver executes will be different. When caring for an elderly individual, a caregiver may focus more on preventing falls and ensuring that they are getting the proper care to maintain their health and well-being. On the other hand, if a caregiver is working with a child or adult with developmental disabilities, they will be working closely with their client to tailor services that benefit them depending on their disabilities and their needs that stem directly from their diagnosis. For example, a caregiver that works with an elderly individual that has Alzheimer’s will have a much different set of daily tasks than a caregiver that is working with a child with Autism. If you are interested in becoming a caregiver while pursuing your nursing degree or while working as a nurse, it is important to ask the home care agency which type of client they serve.

What is the Difference Between a Nurse and a Caregiver? Can I Be Both?

Simply put, nurses make wonderful caregivers and caregivers make amazing nurses! The nursing profession gives an individual experience taking care of others and ensuring that their clients are safe and healthy. As you make your way through your career path, you may consider becoming a caregiver because aforementioned, it will enhance your skills as a nurse practitioner or during your tenure of nursing education. However, it is important to note that there are several differences between registered nurses and caregivers.

The first main difference between the two professions is that nurses often handle medical care and situations such as treating open wounds, taking a client’s vitals and administering medications. Nurses are trained to deal with situations that require medical attention and experience. On the other hand, caregivers, specifically caregivers for non-medical companies, do not partake in medical activities or any sort of caregiving duties that require medical attention. As mentioned previously, a caregiver likely will be able to monitor medications and ensure the individual has taken their proper medications, but they are not allowed to physically administer the medications.

Another difference between nurses and caregivers is the education and training required in order to enter the field. A caregiver has to be CPR certified and go through emergency preparedness training, as well as any additional trainings that the home care company requires its caregivers to go through such as fall prevention or diagnosis specific trainings. Registered nurses on the other hand have to go through different levels of education such as obtaining their GED, a bachelor’s degree and additional clinical hours that count towards obtaining their nursing education and certification. It is important to note that being a caregiver may or may not count for the clinical hours that are needed for nursing programs. If it does not count towards your nursing program, becoming a caregiver can still help supplement the experience that you have as a nurse or a potential nurse candidate. Although the initial training and education to become each of these occupations are different, they are not completely separate. The training you go through for nursing school and to become a registered nurse will help you greatly in your caregiving career.

Overall, being a caregiver and a nurse are two very different professions that require different types of experience and training but work very well hand-in-hand with each other.  After becoming a nurse, you will likely have several opportunities to find jobs in several different atmospheres that are looking for registered nurses (RNs) and that are asking for the skill sets that you were taught through out nursing school. Although in-home caregivers may not have as many opportunities, as they only work in a client’s home, providing the care they were trained to do. These differences should not deter you from becoming a caregiver, but rather supplement your drive to gain more experience in your field of nursing by gaining more experience through caregiving.

Is Caregiving Right for Me?

As a nurse, or a nursing student, you may start to consider becoming a caregiver on the side or as a way to earn hours that go towards obtaining your registered nursing license. But, how do you know if this profession or side hustle is right for you? Simply put, caregiving can be a great way to perfect and brush up on your nursing skills and allow you to make a difference in people’s lives by providing high-quality and superior care to clients. Before you consider becoming a caregiver, finding the right home care agency can heavily influence your decision to take on the job. Nurses as caregivers are perhaps some of the most prepared and well-educated caregivers on the market – making you a hot commodity that your clients and their family will value and appreciate! Whether you are providing long term care to a client with Dementia or short term care to an individual with a chronic illness, your value in the caregiving field is felt and known. Consider becoming a caregiver while you pursue your nursing career and you can make a difference in the world!

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