Although nursing is a profession that is constantly in demand, the need for these healthcare professionals has risen exponentially in the past few years. With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent aftermath, hospitals and medical institutions around the world have faced the urgency to hire more staff, including nurses. As a result, this profession, in general, has caught a lot of people’s attention.
Nursing is the biggest occupational segment in the healthcare industry, particularly across the US. With nearly 4.2 million registered nurses around the country, the federal government expects more than 200,000 jobs to be added to the field each year. This shows that the demand exists while, at the same time, the profession pays well too. As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of nurses is more than $77,000 per annum.
If you are thinking about picking nursing as a field of study or a career, here are some things you need to know:
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Tips for Choosing the right nursing degree
Nursing is a vast and diverse profession with several fields of specialization. Although most of these fields require a basic nursing license for individuals to progress, the academic schedules for each are different.
Much like doctors, nurses can also train to master a particular niche like cardiovascular, trauma, or respiratory care. Which of these fields is best for you? That is something where you’ll need to follow your interests and passions.
Consider what your timeline is
Whatever your scope of the study is like, whether you are starting the basic nursing course or enrolling in an RN to BSN degree, you’ll need to bear in mind how much time it will take. The speed at which you can take courses can differ depending on the program that you are attending.
In some cases, you can complete the degree faster and move into practice in a swift yet efficient manner. In other instances, you’ll need to spend the full length of the degree program studying and only be eligible for a job afterward.
Pick your field of specialization
There are numerous fields that you can search from. There are Licensed Practical Nurse Programs (LPN), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), Registered Nurse Certificate (RN), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), and Associate degree in Nursing (ADN), to name a few.
Other specialties include Family Nurse Practitioner, Critical Care Nurse, Cardiac or Geriatric Nurse, Mental Health Nurse, and Surgical/OR Nurse. Each niche offers a different pay scale where salaries can rise over time too. And while money can motivate you, it is best to pick the field where your interests truly lie.
Take the pros and cons of each field into account
Each and every field of study and career can come with both benefits and drawbacks. As a person, you’ll need to make a professional and personal choice regarding the type of nurse you want to become. For instance, the Licensed Practical Nurse Program enables you to start work immediately, and even the overall degree takes less time to complete.
On the other hand, if you want to expand your income and explore positions at senior levels, you’ll need to get the Registered Nurse Certificate. With the LPN Program and the Associate degree in Nursing, you are spending less before you can start earning already.
Factor in the costs of the study
Costs can be an important determining factor for many students, whether they are starting their education or considering pursuing more advanced education. Costs can pile up over time, especially with the degree program that is progressing at its usual pace.
However, there is a simple solution to this. Look for an expedited program if the cost of a nursing degree is a deciding issue in your choice of degree. If you want to continue learning after starting a career as a nurse, you can. This prospect will help lower the cost burden significantly as you will be able to support your education.
What are your long-term goals?
Nursing, like other healthcare professions, is a long-term career commitment. Once you get in, it is best that you see it through, and whether you have the slightest doubt about getting a degree in this field, it is probably a good idea to take up another degree.
As a nurse, your long-term career goals will decide not just the type of nurse that you want to become, but also the number of specialties you will choose along the way. General practicing nurses can do so with a basic license and degree, but in case your aspirations are higher, you’ll need an advanced degree to pursue leadership positions in the facility where you are working.
The salary brackets for each nursing specialty can differ considerably. These variations can arise from one location to the other and even from one hospital to another. For instance, with an LPN program, you can earn an average salary of $26.59 an hour across the nation, with the ability to make 1.5 times this rate when working overtime. Again, it is important to note that this figure is an average rate that can differ depending on where you live, your experience, your specialty, and the facility where you work. Similarly, salaries can increase as you move up the academic ladder.
Registered Nurses can make a national average of $28.89 an hour, with overtime providing the opportunity to make close to $11,000 in compensation. Emergency room nurses are even better paid, making as much as $37.84 per hour. With a master’s degree, nursing professionals can make more than $116,000 annually, which is an exciting prospect. It is best to consider the various income streams and decide which field of study and career you want to pick for yourself.
Nursing is an in-demand profession that never has and never will lose its relevance. Nursing professionals make up the largest volume of the healthcare workforce and their numbers are continuing to grow year after year. So, as a prospective nurse, you are bound to find sustainable job opportunities, but in order to grow with time, it is best to consider some factors. These include looking at the time and money you must spend on your education. Also, you look carefully at the fields of specialization available and the income they help you generate each year. Together, these elements should form the basis of your decision-making process.