Deciding to switch to a new career is not uncommon, and while many people consider nursing as a potential option, they are often discouraged. Historically the media has portrayed nursing careers in a rather negative light, including how difficult it can be for medical professionals due to tight budgets, long hours, and pressurized working environments. Unfortunately, this is one of several factors that has led to a shortage of nurses.
However, if recent events have taught us anything, it is that medical professionals are some of the most hardworking, selfless, and dedicated people in our society. There is no denying that working in healthcare requires long hours and, like any industry, has its challenges, but for most medical professionals, the positives outweigh the negatives.
Here are just eight of the most compelling reasons why more people should switch to a career in nursing.
1. To make a difference in people’s lives
While doctors and surgeons are more involved in the examination, diagnosis, and prescription of treatment and medication, it is nurses who are there providing hands-on care and emotional support. In fact, many patients say that while they do not remember the doctors they met or the surgeon who operated on them, they remember the nurses who went out of their way to make them as emotionally and physically comfortable as possible. Nurses provide compassion and care for people during some of their hardest times, and each day is filled with opportunities to make a real difference in people’s lives. Many nurses are involved in their communities, providing people with information and advice about healthy living habits and illness prevention.
2. To join a respected and vital workforce
Nurses are a vital part of our society, providing care for the sick, injured, and vulnerable. Nursing can certainly be difficult and demands a lot of a person both personally and professionally, but this is gradually becoming more recognized by society. Research has found that nurses are amongst the most respected and trusted professionals, including a Moneywise study that found that nursing is deemed the most honest profession. What better way to spend your working life than as one of the most respected people in society?
3. To work with lots of different people
Nurses work alongside a wide variety of other medical professionals who all come together to provide quality care for a patient. The types of professionals that you will work with will vary depending on the environment, e.g., hospital, private practice, healthcare centers, but might include doctors, surgeons, radiographers, paramedics, porters, phlebotomists, nurse practitioners, social workers, administrators, and more. Teamwork and collaboration are essential in nursing, and you will get to know people from just about every background and learn about their unique skills and talents. You will also meet different patients and their families every day, building rapport quickly or establishing long-term relationships.
4. To enjoy a varied career
There is a misconception that becoming a nurse means working at the same or a very similar level for your entire career. In reality, nursing offers plenty of opportunities for progression and so much variety that it is the furthest thing from a dead-end career. Nurses can work in a hospital ward, but they can also work in private clinics, family health centers, schools and colleges, sexual health clinics, hospices, and substance abuse rehabilitation centers, to name just a few. Nurses can work on a part or full-time basis, work regular daytime hours or flexible shifts, and take on permanent and temporary positions.
5. Nursing offers great opportunities for progression
Over time nurses can progress to higher levels of responsibility and access higher salaries. If you have a Bachelor of Science in nursing, you can progress on to a Master of Science in Nursing and then a doctorate. Nurses can become team leaders, managers, teachers, and with advanced education and enough experience, nurses can become nurse practitioners, which, in many states, means that they can perform many of the same duties as a doctor. Nurses can also choose to specialize in a field that interests them (e.g., neonatal, midwifery, pediatric, geriatric) or continue to work with patients of all ages and all conditions.
6. To develop a range of skills
Training and working as a nurse equip people with incredibly complex knowledge about the human body and healthcare, as well as numerous hard and soft skills that will benefit both their professional and personal lives. From leadership and teamwork to communication and organization, nurses have to be able to work efficiently and effectively under pressure. They also have a high level of responsibility to provide the best possible care for their patients with the resources available to them, and that requires creativity and innovation. Nurses meet new people every day and have to be able to behave professionally and ethically in difficult situations. This leads to higher confidence that touches every aspect of their lives.
7. There are plenty of training options
There are two training options for aspiring nurses: The Associate Degree in Nursing and the Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Both are valid routes, but increasingly the sector is requiring nurses to have a bachelor’s degree. This can take up to 4 years to complete, but this can be problematic for adults who are switching their careers. A potential alternative for people who already have a bachelor’s degree (in any subject) is an accelerated BSN program. Accelerated BSN programs are condensed versions of the degree, which can be completed in as little as 16 months through a combination of online learning and clinical placements.
8. Because nurses are in demand
Nurses are in short supply, and demand is set to increase significantly over the next 5-10 years. This is because our population is aging, more people have access to health insurance, and the so-called ‘baby boomer’ generation is due to reach retirement age in the near future. If more people do not choose to become nurses, pressure on the healthcare system and its resources is only going to increase, which will lead to poorer quality care for all. At the moment, the average registered nurse earns around $70,000 per year, which is a great salary, but this is only likely to increase as demand becomes greater.