Nurse Talking to a Disabled Child

Career Advice

How Do I Know If I Want To Be A Nurse?

Posted by Eileen Hoenigman Meyer

Career Advice Expert

September 8, 2016

There are plenty of great reasons to become a nurse, but is it the right job for you? Nursing is a vibrant and noble career in and of itself. It’s also a job with tremendous potential for career advancement in the US’s fastest-growing industry. Nurses are in demand. These professionals can find a job in any US city or become international nurses and travel the world helping people.

The American Nurses Association (ANA) summarizes the immediate need for in-coming professionals: “There will be far more registered nurse jobs available through 2022 than any other profession, at more than 100,000 per year. With more than 500,000 seasoned RNs anticipated to retire by 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the need to produce 1.1 million new RNs for expansion and replacement of retirees, and avoid a nursing shortage.”

[Related: 11 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Became A Nurse]

The workforce needs nurses. Could this be your calling?  

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A nurse’s role: In order to work as a nurse, you have to be comfortable physically interacting with people. You also need the confidence and leadership ability to control a situation so that it’s conducive to care. A nurse may have to vaccinate a patient, for example, who’s fearful of needles. The nurse has to calm his or her patient before administering the vaccine. So the task requires both the emotional component of relaxing the patient and the skill of administering the vaccine.  

According to the ANA, these are some specific duties nurses enact:

  • Taking health histories and making decisions about next courses of action
  • Conducting physical exams
  • Administering medications
  • Dressing wounds
  • Offering health education, advice and counseling
  • Working with other medical professionals to coordinate care
  • Supervising nurse aides and licensed practical nurses
  • Continually refining care practices  

[Related: 10 Healthcare Jobs That Don't Require Med School]

An exciting perk of the job is that nursing is versatile, while many nurses work in hospitals, schools, and nursing homes, others work in non-traditional environments like camps, prisons or sports arenas. Some are also traveling nurses who may work at various locations for brief periods of time.     

Training: Multiple training routes can yield similar end results when it comes to nursing jobs. So as you think about whether or not this role is right for you, you can consider which training options might suit your needs. RNs, for example, can take one of three routes to earn their credentials. They can pursue a diploma through an approved nursing program which takes two-three years, an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) which also takes two-three years, or a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) which usually takes about four years. All candidates need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to become RNs.  

[Related: 10 Cool Government Jobs to Apply to Today!]

Advanced Training Options: An RN certification leads to a rewarding job. It also provides a basis for professional growth. RNs can enhance their credentials by pursuing additional training and securing a master’s degree in a specialty role to become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). These roles include a nurse practitioner (NP), a certified nurse-midwife (CNM), a clinical nurse specialist (CNS), and a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA). According to Glassdoor’s salary data, APRNs can command an average salary of about $105,000.

An RN typically needs to start with a BSN to pursue a master’s degree, but some programs offer bridge programs to enable all RNs to continue their work.

A Nurse’s Story: Kay Johnson is a practicing nurse-midwife and a clinical preceptor for nursing and nurse-midwife students at the Atlanta Birth Center. Johnson pursued a CNM rather than taking a less rigorous course of training which would still have enabled her to practice midwifery, but it would have given her less training in nursing. The choice proved positive for her.  

She writes, “I chose the nursing route even though I was not happy about going to nursing school.  I thought it was a waste of time and money and not particularly useful to my career in midwifery. I was wrong.  It turned out that it made it much easier to follow my husband as he was transferred around the country in his job.  I could easily get a license in the new state and find a job quickly.  I have also added much to my clinical experience attending births in large hospitals.”

Johnson recommends that people pondering the profession seriously consider the flexibility the career offers. She recommends they ask themselves: “Do they need choices of career paths to be available to them that involve changing interests, changing lifestyles, changing localities? ”

Johnson also advises that one of the most important qualities prospective nurses need is the “Belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person.”

Could nursing be your calling?

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