Nursing is an old and respected profession. If you are keen on a career that allows you to care for others, nursing is among the most highly recommended. You can expect to enjoy a long and fulfilling career that pays reasonably well and offers good benefits. Better yet, nursing demand is high in the US, so finding employment after you earn your qualifications should be no problem.
However, the recent pandemic showed us that the life of a nurse can be emotionally and physically challenging. We saw TV images of nurses who were exhausted by endless shifts without proper equipment as they selflessly treated patients.
Should you consider nursing as you choose a career?
Understandably, young people today may be asking themselves this question. The answer is yes; nursing is as rewarding a career as it has always been. It is fraught with challenges in times of emergencies, but for those who want careers that allow them to help others, it is one of the most fulfilling.
The outlook for nursing professionals in the US is bright. The demand for jobs in healthcare, including nursing, is expected to increase by 10% in the next 10 years.
The healthcare sector is the biggest employer in the country, and current demographic trends indicate that this will remain the case well into the future.
The increased demand for nurses and other healthcare workers has meant better working conditions. Today’s nurses enjoy higher salaries and benefits. They have broader roles with more responsibilities and plenty of options for those who want to move up the career ladder.
Rather than the traditional nurse’s role of making beds and changing bedpans, nurses regularly manage patient caseloads, coordinate healthcare providers and work in critical care.
These are not the only reasons to get a nursing degree. If the job prospects, salary and benefits don’t appeal to you, keep reading to find out why nursing has become such a popular degree among young people and those wishing to change careers.
Other factors, like aging baby boomers and early retirement for current nurses, are also contributing to the increased demand for nursing professionals.
· It is considered one of the most fulfilling careers
Most nurses will tell you that they chose healthcare as a career because they want to help others. They want to make a difference when it matters. One of the reasons why nursing is such a respected profession is because of the dedication that these individuals bring to ensure that even the sickest patients are restored to health.
· It is a career that makes a difference
Imagine for just a moment the world without nurses. The pandemic was an excellent example of how much the world needs them. Many other workers across all industries were laid off, but in almost every country, there were not enough nurses.
As a nurse, you are an essential worker, one that the world cannot do without. For many, this is reward enough.
· There are many specializations open to nurses
Today’s nurses have the option to climb the career ladder and join management. So long as they get the right training, the sky is the limit. You can start your career as a registered nurse and then go on to become a case management nurse, critical care nurse, genetics nurse, neonatal nurse and much more.
If you want to become an administrator, opportunities include clinical nurse manager, nursing supervisor, charge nurse, director of care, chief nursing officer and nurse informatics manager, among others.
These roles, while not typical of the nursing profession, have become commonplace in hospitals in the US. They pay more and offer great benefits, and you still get the satisfaction of being a caregiver.
· You can study from anywhere
Many universities offer nursing degrees online. You have the flexibility to study at your own pace from wherever you are in the world. It is a convenient option for those who want to work while studying.
If you choose to study nursing online, keep in mind that not all universities are the same. Some are not accredited, and you may earn a degree that isn’t recognized by employers.
Properly accredited programs, like those offered at Spring Arbor University, not only give you theoretical training but also placement so that you can gain the practical skills you need for the workplace.
A good online nursing program will also give you all the support and materials that you need to qualify, as well as clinical placement so that you can gain practical skills.
Keep in mind that online learning requires plenty of dedication and discipline. You are the master of your time, and it is up to you to put in the necessary hours to earn your degree.
· You can work outside of the United States
If you don’t want to work in a traditional workplace setting like a hospital or a clinic, there are plenty of opportunities for nurses elsewhere. Some choose institutions like the Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders, which are always in need of medical professionals.
Your nursing qualifications also allow you to work abroad. Wherever you go in the world, you’ll find that a nurse’s skills are always appreciated and well-compensated.
· Entry requirements are attainable for most
It is much easier to qualify for enrollment in nursing than it is to become a doctor. Most universities require a lower SAT score for nursing than for medicine. You also need to present your academic transcripts and a high school diploma.
For those already working in healthcare, requirements may vary depending on your experience. Before you enroll, find out whether there is a credit-transfer system that allows you to complete your program faster.
· Nursing is a stable profession
Once you qualify as a nurse and get a job, and so long as you are a dedicated and conscientious worker, you can expect your career to last a lifetime. You may change jobs a few times, but you will always have growth opportunities in the healthcare sector.
· Nurses enjoy a wide range of employment benefits
Not many careers come with guaranteed benefits. Nursing, however, is one of those where you can expect more than your salary. In most jobs, nurses enjoy paid sick leave, vacations and holidays, family leave, tuition reimbursement, health and life insurance, childcare and retirement benefits.
As a young person who isn’t familiar with the job market, these are things you may take for granted. You shouldn’t. Think of them this way: if your job doesn’t offer you such benefits, you have to pay for them yourself.
· Your skills are handy at home and everywhere you go
Your skills will be valid at home, especially if you are a parent or live with someone elderly. You’ll be able to treat small injuries and illnesses yourself. You may find yourself assisting in emergencies in other settings as well.
What challenges can you expect as a nursing professional?
All the above are excellent reasons to get into the nursing profession. However, as with any job, it is important to have a balanced view so that you don’t come across any surprises along the way.
Nursing can be a demanding profession. One of the reasons why there is high nursing demand today is that there is so much to be done and not enough people to do it, which programs like those offered by Spring Arbor University hope to rectify. A blog post in Nursing CE highlights the challenges nurses are facing today. While the post deals with the profession in broad political terms, there are some challenges that most nurses must face every day:
- A nurse’s day requires a lot of standing and walking, for example. If you are not physically fit, this can prove strenuous.
- Nurses are also required to be fast thinkers. Working in a clinical environment, you will need to deal with emergencies, and you will have to be quick on your feet to save lives.
- Even on their worst days, nurses are expected to have a good bedside manner. If you are moody, lose your temper fast and are generally not personable, the nursing profession may not be right for you.
- Mental health for nurses has received some focus in recent years. They work very hard and often see traumatic things in the course of duty. As you plan your career in nursing, research available initiatives and programs in your area that will keep you well-balanced.
It is easy for those considering a nursing career to have second thoughts. The pandemic showed us just how difficult working conditions can be for nurses and other healthcare professionals. Don’t let that put you off.
Nursing remains one of the most rewarding professions. You impact people’s lives every day, and you have a skill set that is valued wherever you go in the world.
Getting a nursing degree today will allow you to enter the job market fast, and because nursing demand is expected to grow, you can expect to keep your job for as long as you want it.