Few roles are as essential as nursing. Nurses are the backbone of healthcare and, as a result, are the backbone of society itself. You have so many options and opportunities when you transition into nursing. You can decide what type of work you do, what patients you work with, and even the area of medicine you specialize in. You can work in healthcare settings, privately, and even in unique situations like movie sets. Your job, after all, is human health and well-being, and you can work wherever patients can be found.
The best part, of course, is that nursing is a growing industry. This means more job openings, more training opportunities, and higher wages across the board. If you are committed, you can work your way up to 6-figure salaries and have the opportunity to adjust and adapt your career to suit your needs and changing priorities.
Nursing is an excellent career path. Though many hospitals are struggling with shortages, these shortages actually indicate new opportunities for nurses at all levels.
Job Openings and Growth
Though the median will change state-to-state, with states like California or Alaska offering some of the highest wages for RNs, the overall median salary for all nurses in the United States is still quite high. For APRNs, it’s even higher. Just look at the annual median salary for nurses in the states today, and be sure to compare based on either the state you are in or intend to work in. These up-to-date statistics can help you with your own job negotiation and salary expectations.
The industry itself is also growing exponentially. Currently, they’re over 3 million open nursing jobs in the United States alone. The role also has a projected growth of 7% by 2029. This means more openings and opportunities for all new and advancing nurses.
Travel nursing is also becoming more popular. Travel nursing is simply filling in for nursing positions when there is a shortage. Someone might be sick, or a hospital may be too busy for its staff. You technically work for yourself this way, and though daily rates can be higher, you will have to deal with potential lulls in work.
There is a push to decentralize healthcare. What decentralizing healthcare means is simple – get the bulk of healthcare options out of cities. Right now, there is a huge discrepancy between urban healthcare resources and rural options.
The goal of decentralizing healthcare isn’t to take away resources from cities but to instead increase support and access for those living in rural areas. This focus means more opportunities to work where you want, not just where the money is.
One of the key tools that will enable healthcare to decentralize is telehealth. Telehealth gained ground and support during the pandemic, and its importance ensures that it will continue. The only downside at the moment is the lack of infrastructure. Extreme security and privacy protection need to be in place in order to maintain patient confidentiality.
Once it kicks off, however, nurses, along with doctors, technicians, IT specialists, and more are all going to be essential. This gives you even more opportunity to work where you want and take on a better work/life balance while you are at it.
How to Get Started in Nursing
There are actually several different paths that you can take to get started in nursing. If you want to work in a nursing role as soon as possible, for example, you could take a six-week certificate and get started working as a Certified Nursing Assistant. These assistants make slightly higher than minimum wage and work in hospices and care homes to provide holistic care for patients.
For many, this is not the role they think of when they hear the word “nurse”. That role goes to the Registered Nurse. These nurses provide ongoing care in hospitals, clinics, and more. They are one of the most important roles in healthcare, and the good news for those considering getting started is that you can jump right in.
While you will need a BSN or, at minimum, an ADN in order to work as an RN, you won’t need to have worked in healthcare before enrolling. This is great news for those just starting out or those who are considering nursing as a second career.
Even better news is that there are many different ways to complete your education:
· The Accelerated Degree
If you are considering nursing as your second career and already hold a bachelor’s degree, then kickstart your efforts with an accelerated BSN. You will need to have certain prerequisite credits already to apply, but if you have them, you can cut down your BSN from around four years to just 16 months.
In order to graduate that quickly, you will need to take on the degree full-time. The good news is that top options like Rockhurst University Online let you complete all the coursework right at home. There will then be a short on-campus residency and, of course, your clinical placement.
When it comes to earning a full BSN this is the single best option. If you don’t have all the prerequisite credits you need, don’t worry, either. Simply get in touch with the admissions team. In most cases, credits can be added on, or they can direct you to where you can get a foundation degree that will cover the prerequisite courses you are missing.
· Part-Time Online BSN
If you want or need to continue to work (or raise your kids) while you are studying, then you may be better suited to an online, part-time option. These degrees, unlike the ABSN, are designed to be completed by working professionals. They take far longer than full-time options, but in return, you can continue to support yourself and your family.
Sometimes the slowest option is the best option! The only thing to keep in mind is that you will need to stay consistent with your education. This means you need to build a routine that gives you plenty of opportunities to focus on the subject at hand and properly memorize everything essential.
· Full-Time BSN
You can take a full-time BSN, both online and on-campus. The right option will depend on your age and your responsibilities. While those going into nursing as a second career (who don’t already have a bachelor’s degree) may prefer the online degree since it means they can save on maintenance costs, those just starting out may prefer an on-campus environment.
Overall it will boil down to preference. You may prefer or even need the structure that an on-campus degree gives you. Alternatively, you may be better off without the distractions of student life by studying at home.
So long as you make the right choice for yourself, there is no wrong decision.
· ADN to BSN
Though they are being phased out, the ADN is still an accepted degree option for those who want to become an RN. It takes around two years to earn your ADN instead of four, but you do need to keep in mind that you cannot go further with an ADN.
If your goal is to work in an APRN role, then you will need an MSN. To enroll in an MSN program, you will need a BSN.
That is why earning a BSN is always going to be recommended over the ADN. That being said, there are a few programs that let those with an ADN fast-track their BSN. There are even a few select MSN programs that let you complete the missing BSN credits and then move on to the MSN credits in one program.
Your Career Options in Nursing
When you earn your degree and pass the state exam, you will be licensed to work as a nurse in your state. If the said state is in the enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact then you can even move to a different state in the eNLC as necessary.
You can work as a Triage Nurse, a Telehealth Nurse, a School nurse, and so much more. If you further your education and earn that MSN, you can then work in well-paid, highly specialized roles.
You can even work outside of healthcare. Instead of working in a hospital or clinic, you can work privately. This means you can provide health services for individual clients, or you can work as part of the health-and-safety team for select projects or on an ongoing basis.
For example, you could work at a remote research station as a nurse. You can also work on a movie set or at a big festival. The fact is your specialization is human health, which means you can technically work anywhere there are people. The only caveat is, of course, that you need to find options that are paid.
Between healthcare careers and private jobs, you will be spoiled for choice. There is always going to be a need for nurses no matter where you work, so find your passion and work towards it.