Why you should become a nurse
With the US Bureau of Labor Statistics confidently forecasting that demand for qualified nurses is on course to grow by a vigorous 12 percent – well above the average job market rate – between now and 2028, it’s perhaps not surprising that many people are contemplating changing career to enter this most rewarding, if highly challenging, profession.
Nurses have certainly faced considerable stress during the Covid-19 crisis. They found themselves amidst a shortage of qualified medical staff during sharply increased demand. They worked valiantly throughout to help those in need, sometimes to the point of personal exhaustion.
Yet seasoned healthcare executive Allan Njoroge is among those who remain unwaveringly optimistic about the profession. Writing in Forbes, he acknowledges that many nurses suffered intense pressure during the global health crisis, which left a proportion of them feeling “burnt out.” Conceding that nurses are frequently called upon to work long hours and remain on their feet longer than many other professions, he nonetheless remains a staunch advocate for the fulfilling and rewarding nature of the profession.
When they are well-supported by their employing organizations, Njoroge maintains, nurses understand very deeply that they belong to a most worthwhile profession and frequently make crucial beneficial differences to vast numbers of people in the most challenging moments of their lives. Njoroge enjoins nurses and prospective nurses to adopt a “glass half full” perspective toward their profession: yes, times can be challenging, and there are acutely distressing occasions when lives cannot be saved. But the difference nurses make to people in crisis recovering from serious illnesses or injuries with their combination of expert knowledge and deep compassion is incomparable and invaluable.
In this essay, we’ll highlight the ways in which nurses make this vital difference and put forth evidence-backed arguments for why people who may be dissatisfied with their current occupation should consider becoming a nurse.
The Covid-19 crisis highlighted that there remains a strong demand for a trained nursing workforce; the pandemic exposed healthcare systems to the danger of being overwhelmed by the sheer scale of demand during the emergency. The profession, in other words, is one of the few recession-proof occupations available., As the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows, the demand for “new blood” to fill the vacancies is rising as older nurses retire.
The rise of Nurse Practitioner Roles
Another of the many encouraging current trends in nursing is the rising demand for well-remunerated advanced nursing specialisms such as Nurse Practitioners. The good news for people attracted to this thriving specialism’s challenge and career prospects is that obtaining the requisite credentials may well be more realizable than they might assume. Well-established brick-and-mortar universities of high academic repute, like Spring Arbor, are now offering the advanced degrees necessary for entering these roles on an online basis.
That means people with the resolve to proceed no longer have to consider sacrificing existing work or family commitments to obtain the necessary Master of Science in Nursing Practice (MSN-NP) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). The programs (apart from the clinical placement requirements) can be pursued online from home around existing commitments, not instead of them.
Growing opportunities for specializing
Other specialisms are available, too. The ‘generic nurse’ is increasingly a fantasy. Qualified nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and a Registered Nurse (RN) license can, for example, choose to specialize in pediatrics, where they’ll work exclusively with children, or alternatively, they can opt to become, say, a surgical nurse working in hospital operating rooms.
Nurses also work in unique settings, like correctional nurses who work with prison inmates in correctional facilities, while others work within government agencies or big corporations.
Nurses’ pay is improving fast.
The days of nurses being seen as low-paid handmaidens to doctors are over. Data compiled by data and compensation software company PayScale in 2021 revealed that those possessing an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) could expect an average salary of $71,000. Established and reputable universities are increasingly offering fully accredited higher qualifications for Registered Nurses without degrees who wish to obtain a BSN degree to switch careers into better-paid nursing roles in the form of online RS-MSN programs.
Despite the stresses, job satisfaction runs deep in nursing.
While it’s always welcome to be well remunerated for one’s efforts, nurses also tend to score highly on job and career satisfaction measures. These aren’t quite the same: job satisfaction refers to a particular nursing job, while career satisfaction refers to the choice of a profession. A 2019 survey by American Mobile Nurses (AMN) Healthcare revealed that a resounding 81% of its nurse respondents rated themselves as “satisfied” or “extremely satisfied” with their choice of career. Moreover, 71% responded affirmatively when asked if they would recommend becoming a nurse to others.
Nurses find their profession inherently engaging.
The day-to-day work of a nurse is rarely predictable, mainly because clinical work with patients is so multifaceted and the presenting problems so diverse. Another survey from AMN Healthcare dating from 2017 found that Registered Nurses had a variety of options to diversify their work, with some intending to move beyond direct patient care (into roles like teaching, mentoring or management).
Other respondents reported that they planned to make use of the option to cut down on the number of hours they worked each week. In contrast, others still intended to migrate to travel nursing (i.e., working in different healthcare settings around the country or even the world).
Nursing is a widely esteemed profession.
Gallup began an annual survey to identify which professions Americans consider to be the most ethical and honest. For 19 years, the top profession Americans voted into the Number One slot was nursing. There has been only one year since nursing was not in the top position. In 2001, firefighters were justifiably voted into the prime place due to their heroism and sacrifice.
Belonging to such a profoundly and consistently respected profession is in itself a form of enduring “social reward.”
Nurses have multiple options for specialization.
There are now more than 100 different categories of nursing specialization, from (in alphabetical order) Ambulatory Care Nursing to Cardiac Care Nursing to Neonatal Intensive Care to Toxicology Nursing. And that’s far from an exhaustive list!
And the good news is that nurses who opt for one specialism don’t have to remain in it for the rest of their careers. They can move relatively quickly from one specialism to another – from, say, gerontological nurse to transplant nurse or dialysis nurse to labor and delivery nurse. The transition is made possible by means of gaining some extra hands-on experience and participating in continuing education for nurses programs.
Nurses are entitled to enviable benefits.
Because nursing professionals’ skills (and compassion) are in such strong demand, hospitals, clinics, and family doctors’ offices are more than willing to offer competitive benefits packages to retain them. Nurses can generally count on being eligible for paid sick time, paid vacation, paid family leave, additional bonuses for extra shifts, health and life insurance, reimbursement of tuition fees for continuing professional development courses, retirement benefits, subsidized travel, and student loan repayment.
Graduate nurses enjoy excellent ‘on boarding’ processes to ease them into new roles.
It’s often anxiety-provoking for nurses to make the first transition from an academic to a real-world clinical setting when they’ve just qualified. Those opting to work in large teaching hospitals will benefit from a one-year residency program designed to help new nurses transition from students to employed professionals.
Nursing offers multiple leadership opportunities.
Newly qualified nurses gain invaluable experience in their day-to-day work caring for patients. But these experiences can be drawn upon to inform the many leadership roles the nursing profession offers. All that patient care, for example, is crucial to becoming a practical Charge Nurse, whose role is to assign patient care and keep track of staff so that necessary adjustments can be made as and when needed to shift staffing.
Roles like this often lead nurses to recognize that they possess leadership skills in addition to their clinical competence. These skills may open gateways to positions they might have yet to consider, such as clinical nurse leader, patient care director, or unit manager.
However, those who would prefer to stay in a predominantly clinical role also have leadership options to choose from, such as Advanced Practice Nurse, Case Manager, or Clinical Specialist.
Thanks in part to the uptake of high-quality online professional qualifications for nurses, these professionals have much more accessible and generous opportunities for career advancement than at any time previously.
Despite the stresses the profession inevitably carries with it, the personal and remunerational rewards of nursing are abundant, with multiple pathways to senior specialized clinical fields. And as shown in this essay, nurses are held in exceptionally high esteem by the overwhelming majority of the people they serve – ordinary Americans in need of health care.
This is no mean feat. But it’s a reputation that has been consistently earned by the dedicated people who bring the profession to practical life, making a massive beneficial difference to many patients in their most distressing and frightening hours every day of their working lives.