If you’re considering a career change and you feel driven to help people, then becoming a nurse might be the perfect choice. Nurses are the heart and soul of the medical field and they play an active role in helping patients recover from illnesses and injuries.
There’s never been a better time to get into the field of nursing. The demand for nurses is growing, and there are more options than ever for specializing and developing a fulfilling career path. Let’s take a closer look at why now is the time to pivot into a nursing career.
Understanding the Nursing Profession
The word “nurse” usually means a registered nurse (RN) working in a hospital, in the minds of the general public. However, there’s a lot more diversity within the nursing profession than that, and the opportunities for nurses are always growing.
RNs are certainly the backbone of the field, and they fill an incredibly important patient care need. However, they can also work in many other settings besides hospitals, including clinics, schools, and correctional facilities. RNs typically provide direct bedside care and collaborate with doctors and other healthcare professionals.
Nurse practitioners (NPs) are becoming an important part of the healthcare system as well. They are highly trained medical professionals with the skills and knowledge to diagnose and treat routine health problems. In some states, they have full practice autonomy and can become patients’ primary care providers. This is helping to reduce wait times and improve preventative care for patients.
Finally, there are other nursing professionals including Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) who have less training than RNs and NPs, but still play an important role in the field of medicine. These professionals assist with patient care and reduce some of the burden on doctors and nurses.
The Current State of Nursing
Nursing remains as important as ever. However, nursing shortages have been a major issue in the field over the last few years.
Several factors are affecting these shortages. First, many veteran nurses who have worked for decades are taking their well-deserved retirement. Second, the average age of people in the United States is rising, causing increased demand for healthcare services. And finally, the COVID-19 pandemic was especially hard on nurses, causing many of them to leave the field.
There’s no doubt that nursing can be a stressful job. This is something that anyone who is interested in the field should consider. Currently, however, the nursing shortage is making it easier for new nurses to find stable employment and negotiate a competitive compensation package.
Reasons to Consider a Career in Nursing
Most people get into nursing initially because they have compassion for others and want to help people during their most vulnerable moments. However, that’s not usually enough to keep people in the field long-term. Nurses can enjoy a number of other benefits that make working in the field very rewarding.
One major benefit of working as a nurse is job security and stability. This is especially true now, due to the nursing shortage. Some nurses also elect to become travel nurses for part of their careers, traveling from place to place and helping out hospitals facing staffing shortages. This can be a great option for people with wanderlust who want the security of a full-time job.
Nursing can also be a financially rewarding career, especially for those who gain additional training and become nurse practitioners. These jobs also typically provide excellent benefits.
Another reason to consider nursing is the personal and professional fulfillment it can provide. There are fantastic opportunities for advancement and specialization for motivated nurses who choose to get additional training and invest in professional development. It’s also extremely rewarding to directly help people and see the positive impact on their lives!
Nursing can be a great option for people who need some extra flexibility in their careers. Different work settings and schedules are available because care for patients is needed 24/7, 365 days a year, in every part of the globe where people live.
Qualities and Skills Required in Nursing
Although it’s a great time to consider a career in nursing, that doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for everyone looking to pivot into a new career. Nurses have demanding jobs and certain skills and qualities are essential for success.
Unsurprisingly, empathy and compassion are incredibly important for nurses. However, nurses also need to be able to separate their personal and professional lives effectively in order to avoid burnout and compassion fatigue. They need excellent communication and critical thinking skills.
Nurses also need to be detail-oriented, organized, and adaptable. During any given shift, there will be a range of responsibilities to juggle, and mistakes can sometimes affect patients’ health outcomes or even end in tragedy. Nurses have to be able to work under pressure and keep their cool as well.
Many of the skills needed to become a successful nurse are developed during training. However, it’s important to consider your own strengths, weaknesses, and preferences when deciding if this is the career for you.
Education and Training Requirements
Depending on your previous educational experiences, it might not take all that long to become a nurse. In fact, some accelerated programs take just one year to complete. With that said, most aspiring nurses must complete degree programs taking 2-4 years.
Getting a bachelor’s degree in nursing is usually the best way to open up job opportunities and command a higher salary. While it is possible to become an RN after earning an associate’s degree, many employers look for RNs with 4-year degrees. If you’ve already attended some college, you might be able to earn your nursing degree more quickly. Becoming a nurse practitioner requires a master’s degree and additional training.
Regardless of whether or not you attend an online or in-person degree program, you will need to pass the licensing exam after graduation. After this, nurses are expected to engage in continuing education and professional development to keep their skills sharp and up to date.
Financial and Personal Considerations
If you’ve made it this far and think that a nursing career could be right for you, then the next step is to think about practical matters. Nursing school is a smart investment, but it’s important to have a solid plan for how you will handle both the financial and practical aspects of pivoting in your career.
Financial aid might be available, depending on your financial situation and the scholarships you’re able to get. You’ll also need to decide if loans will be needed. Nursing school is demanding, and it can be difficult to keep up with other responsibilities while you’re in the thick of your studies. Making sure you have a support system is critical for success.
Becoming a Nurse is a Solid Career Choice
Nursing isn’t for everyone, but some people can’t imagine doing anything else with their lives. If you think you have what it takes to join this dynamic and fulfilling field, then the time to get started is right now. Think about your goals and start working toward them by applying to nursing school!