In the United States, one of the fastest growing fields of employment is the field of nursing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurse (RN) jobs are expected to increase by 26 percent by the year 2020. In addition, over the years there has been an increasing shortage of people choosing nursing as a career. By the year 2015, the shortage is expected to reach 500,000 and by 2020 an astounding 800,000. As a result, this makes it a great option for both men and women who are contemplating a medical career. For people interested in becoming a nurse, there are numerous factors to consider when determining whether it is a good career fit.
The first thing that a person must consider when looking into a nursing career is that there is more than one type of nursing degree that he or she may pursue. This is important because it will affect his or her future goals as a nurse. To become a registered nurse, a student will need to complete a two to four-year program. The type of program chosen will affect the advancement opportunities that the person will be able to pursue, but will not hinder or increase his or her chances of gaining entry-level employment. A two to three-year program can earn an individual an Associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) while a program that spans four years will earn a student a Bachelor's of Science degree in nursing (BSN).
A nurse may work in any number of settings. Nursing jobs are commonly found in hospitals and doctor's offices, but there are also positions available in home health services, nursing care facilities, and in educational services or other government agencies. They help patients and assist doctors in the care and treatment of patients. A nurse's daily job may include everything from recording a patient's symptoms, performing diagnostic tests, to making observations, and giving medications. The true extent of a nurse's duties depends on what setting or position that they choose.
Nurses keep hours that are somewhat different from other occupations. In most cases, nurses work full-time hours, although roughly 20 percent work part-time. Nurses may work weekends, nights, or holidays depending on the setting in which they work. Many also work a 40 hour week although those forty hours may not be consecutive. For example, some nurses may work in 12 hour shifts, others may complete their 40 hours within four days.
Pay and benefits are crucial factors to consider when entering any career. Wages typically depend on where a person is employed and the experience that they have. The median annual salary for an RN working in a local hospital is typically around $62,690 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median salary for an RN who works in a physician's office is $62,880, and in a nursing care facility the median salary is $58,180. This generally changes as nurses work overtime or receive bonuses. In terms of benefits, nurses often receive educational benefits, in addition to health care benefits. Educational benefits may allow nurses to pursue higher degrees. For example, a nurse with an ADN may wish to further his or her education to become eligible for advanced positions that are not an option for nurses with an ADN.
Like most career choices, there are a number of advantages and disadvantages to being a nurse. One of the advantages is the fact that there is room for growth and the ability to use a nurse's degree in various roles from an emergency nurse to an instructor. For people who enjoy meeting and helping people, being a nurse gives them the opportunity to do just that. Unfortunately, that may also be a disadvantage, as it can be difficult for nurses who deal with people who are extremely ill or dying. Long hours may also be a disadvantage for some people, particularly those with families.
Nursing is an amazing field with room to grow. It is a career choice that is ideal for both men and for women. People considering nursing should look to all of the factors when making a decision. Future plans for advancement and desired hours and pay are all factors that must be considered before entering the field.
To learn more about nursing as a career, please see the following links.
- The Princeton Review: A Day in the Life of a Nurse
- What do Nurses Do?
- Different Types of Nurses
- Five Benefits of Becoming a Registered Nurse
- Personal Benefits and Risks for Nurses
- Becoming a Nurse Manager – Are the Benefits Worth the Costs?
- Nurses' Pivotal Role
- Why Choose Nursing?
- The Campaign for Nursing's Future: Why Be a Nurse?
- How Do I Know if I Want to Become a Nurse?
- Occupational Outlook Handbook