Many people dream of having a career that is both financially rewarding and makes a real difference in the world. The medical field offers us many opportunities for this kind of work, from being a physician or a pharmacist to a scientific researcher. These types of roles enable you to improve people’s lives and public health, while also being highly respected and well paid. If this sounds like it might be of interest to you, one fantastic option to consider is becoming a nurse.
Nursing is a prestigious career path that can give you job security, financial stability and development opportunities – all while helping to save lives. Read on to find out more about the benefits of a career in nursing, and how you can get started.
What Nurses do
Before digging into the benefits of becoming a nurse, it’s a good idea to look at what the job actually entails. The role is a wide one, with many different job locations and tasks. Nurses can work anywhere from hospitals, clinics and care homes to schools and community health centers. The place you work at will affect the type of tasks you perform, but you can expect to do jobs such as:
- conducting physical examinations of patients
- taking patients’ medical histories and updating records
- administering healthcare and medications
- giving patients healthcare advice
As you progress further in your career, your role may expand to include supervision of staff, coordination of patient care, and critical decision making. There may even be the opportunity to assist with research. You can also choose to specialize in an area of care that particularly interests you: for example, diabetes, geriatrics, pediatrics, trauma or psychiatric care. Many of these require further study and qualifications, but come with higher salaries and job security.
Why nursing is a fantastic career option
There are a wealth of reasons why nursing is a great choice of career. Firstly there is a nationwide shortage of nurses across the US, in large part due to the increasing elderly population and higher rates of chronic conditions such as obesity. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of licensed nurses will grow 9% between 2019 and 2029, which is a much faster rate than most other industries. This means that nurses have very good job prospects after qualifying, as well as high levels of job security.
The role also offers a lot of opportunities for progression and career development. You will be in a position where you can continuously learn through professional development courses or even by taking an advanced degree. This gives you the potential to earn a larger salary, take on a leadership role with more responsibilities, or become highly specialized in an area that interests you. In fact, continuous learning is not just encouraged, it’s vital for doing the job to the best of your ability. So if you have a curious mind and a passion for healthcare, nursing could be ideal for you.
As you might expect from a role in such high demand, nurses can command a competitive salary. In 2019, the median annual salary for a Registered Nurse was $73,300, and the figure is even greater for those who have higher qualifications. Depending on where you work, there may also be fantastic benefits such as insurance packages alongside your salary. Additionally, there is a high degree of flexibility in the work, from the location to the field you choose to specialize in.
Perhaps the best thing about being a nurse is that you get to help people every single day. The vast majority of nurses say that they are satisfied with their choice of career, and the job is very well respected. You get to meet people and work directly with patients of all ages and walks of life. It’s by no means an easy job, but it is certainly a highly rewarding one.
How to train as a nurse
If all these benefits have piqued your interest in becoming a nurse, then it’s time to start planning how to make your dream a reality. In order to become a nurse you must first graduate from an accredited nursing program. The minimum requirement is an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN); however, by choosing to study for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) instead you are likely to qualify for better jobs with higher pay.
If you already have a Bachelor’s degree in another field, don’t worry, you don’t have to go back to college for another four years! Instead it’s possible to take an accelerated BSN program that can be completed in around one year. There’s also the option to take accelerated nursing programs online, where you can complete a large portion of the coursework from home.
As well as classroom (or online) learning, you will complete clinical training to get hands-on nursing experience. However you choose to take your degree, you will need to sit the National Council Licensure Examination afterwards to receive your nursing license.
If at a later date you wish to progress further in your nursing career, you could opt to take a graduate degree. For example, having a Master of Science in Nursing enables you to work as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, with a higher level of responsibility and a correspondingly higher salary. The top degree you can achieve in nursing is a doctoral degree, which prepares you to teach at university level, conduct research, or pursue very high level positions in the field.
Now that you have all the information, you’re ready to put it into practice. Research all the different nursing schools that you’re interested in attending to see what the entry requirements for their programs are. Think carefully about the exact program and school that will be right for you, then take your time crafting the perfect application. There are plenty of opportunities for financial aid when it comes to nursing degrees, so don’t forget to look into scholarships and other funding options, too. Good luck!