Nurses have certainly been having a difficult time lately. Those on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic have been unable to access all the PPE that they need, and they have been working extremely long hours under stressful conditions, trying to not only treat their patients, but also not worry about whether there is a bed for them or not.
The slight upside to this hardship is that it has raised awareness about the work the nurses do and shone a spotlight on the difficulties that they face. The public is more behind nurses than ever, which is the catalyst to changing the way that they are treated. Nursing will always be challenging, but nurses in training now may have a completely different experience than those who trained ten years ago.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has reported that employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 12% between 2018 and 2028. This is a much higher rate of growth than other sectors and makes nursing a stable career choice in that there will always be work available. The rate of growth is mostly due to the aging population and an increase in chronic conditions such as diabetes and obesity, but the growth is also partly in response to a growing focus on preventative healthcare and working with patients to keep them living longer and more active lives.
The median salary for nurses in 2019 was $73,300, which is almost double the median salaries across all sectors, which were at an average of $39,810. The salary for the lowest ten percent of nurses was around $52,080, and the highest ten percent were paid $111,220.
There are a few reasons for the wide salary band. According to nurse.org, the salaries of nurses are impacted by:
- The area of the country in which they work: typically nurses in the city will be paid more than nurses in small towns.
- The type of facility they work in: for example, a large research hospital is likely to pay more than a small clinic.
- The type of education that they have: generally nurses who have a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) will earn more than nurses who have an ADN (Associate Degree In Nursing).
- How much experience they have: they will earn more based on experience gained.
As soon as nurses qualify and begin working, they will usually be paid a healthy salary which is always good news!
It’s More Than a Job
This is probably the biggest draw to a nursing career. Obviously earning a salary is an important part of any job, but money only makes you happy up to a certain point.
Most of us have probably sat at a desk in a job that on paper is great, but in reality, leaves us feeling empty. The most satisfying jobs are those that allow us to meet other needs; after all, we spend the majority of our lives working. Shouldn’t it be in a job that means something to us personally?
Most people want to feel that they are doing something meaningful with their careers, and to most humans, that translates into caring for other human beings. You can weave elements of caring into any job by volunteering to act as a mentor, for example, but nursing is probably the career where this need is met the most consistently.
As a nurse, you are not only caring for other people, but you are empowering them to care for themselves through education. In this way, you are also doing something to change the world because the good decisions of one person can soon multiply exponentially. For example, if your partner decides to start eating more healthily and exercising following a conversation with a nurse, it’s highly likely that you would join them in their new regime. Your friends might then see how good you look and decide that they want to focus on their health too, and so on.
Retraining is Easier Than Ever
The multiple commitments in our lives can mean attending a university to retrain would be impossible. Institutions know this, and they have used the ever-improving digital technology that is now available to address the issue.
For example, you can study accelerated BSN nursing programs online, which allows you to gain valuable qualifications, all from your living room. The BSN program is an intensive full-time program that combines online courses with clinical and lab experiences to provide you with the well-rounded education you need to succeed as a nurse. It also focuses on providing clinical experience to students by working with underserved communities, so you will be able to feel like you are making a difference even as you undertake your training.
Opportunity to Shape Your Career
Nurses have the opportunity to mold their careers into one that really suits them. You will start working as a nurse in a specific department, but once you gain some experience you will have the opportunity to move through the ranks and act as a shift leader or even a floor leader.
If promotion upwards doesn’t appeal to you, you could also choose to specialize. For example, if you love working with children, you could specialize in pediatrics, or if you are passionate about mental health, you could specialize in that area.
Some nurses choose to take their career even further and train as a nurse practitioner. Nurse practitioners have the same level of authority as a physician, and in some states, they can even work without the supervision of a physician, being fully entrusted with decisions relating to their patients’ care. One of the appealing things about becoming a nurse practitioner is that it allows you to open up your own medical practice. So, if you are someone who wants to run their own business then this could be a great option for you.
The important thing to note is that unlike a lot of industries, nurses will be well compensated for any extra training that they undertake. This means nursing is a career that actually encourages your desire for personal and professional growth.