The nursing profession has seen many changes recently – even before the controversial Affordable Care Act takes full effect – and that may push some nurses away from the field. This is unfortunate because nursing remains a rapidly growing field with a rich array of career options that will provide many opportunities for those who enter the profession.
“Nursing is rigorous and demanding,” said Julie Pusztai, the Director of the Neighborhood Wellness Center at Azusa Pacific University and an instructor at its School of Nursing. “However, to those that hold nursing at high value, and desire to care for others, I will say that it could be the best decision of their lives.”
Consider these three factors that will still make nursing an attractive career.
- Nursing remains an enriching career with many different satisfying paths
Amy Bernard, the Director for Continuing Education at Western Schools, said that nursing offers many more rewards than just a paycheck.
“Nursing is an incredibly rewarding profession,” she said. “The opportunity to help people stay well or those who are sick or suffering, and to be able to participate in their recovery, is very fulfilling and provides a great deal of intrinsic reward. That helps (patients) feel better, but also makes us feel good as well.”
In a recent survey, 91 percent of RNs were satisfied with their jobs. One of the reasons for nurse satisfaction is the strong relationships they build together because of the important jobs they have. Pusztai said that nurses’ lives are unique. They laugh and cry together through the relationships they build with their co-workers, and they need each other to succeed. Nurses often say that the camaraderie they build is one of the best parts of the job.
“It’s very fulfilling to be part of a team where the focus is on the well-being of others,” Bernard said. “You feel like you are making a difference.”
There are also a variety of choices within the nursing industry. Most people think of a hospital nurse when they think of the profession, but there are many other possibilities. The book “201 Careers in Nursing” illustrates the huge number of career options that exist in nursing today.
“You can do research, you can lead organizations, and the practice environments are seemingly unlimited,” Bernard said. “You can work in a hospital, in an office, in a simulation lab, on an airplane, in a board room, or in a school. You can work in a company, in education, in government, for non-governmental organizations, in a clinic, or in travel. You name it, a nurse can do it!”
2. The job outlook remains very optimistic
Nursing opportunities are expected to surge in the next 10 years, with 26 percent more jobs available between 2010 and 2020. That is almost double the rate of other professions, and nursing opportunities are everywhere. That increase will also likely include more responsibilities for nurses. Bernard said that in many of those instances, nurses will take on more leadership roles. While only six percent of hospital board members are currently nurses, the number of nurses that will become leaders in the industry should increase.
“Nurses will start making more decisions,” Bernard said. “No one spends more time with the patient than the nurse, and their roles will become increasingly important.”
Pusztai said that the nursing industry will need the next generation to come forth because of the current shortage, and said more diversity is needed. A recent survey revealed that only nine percent of nurses were minorities, and that an increase of more than 20,000 minority nurses is needed just to increase their proportion of the nursing workforce by 1 percent.
Pusztai said grants, scholarships and loan programs are available for nursing workforce development and retention, as well as for diversity development.
“This all means that now is a good time to enter into nursing education,” she said.
3. Nurses play an important role in society and make a difference even when they aren’t on the clock
Recent Gallup polls suggest that nursing is the most trusted profession in America. More than 85 percent of Americans trust nurses, a higher rating than even pharmacists or physicians. That’s not a recent development – nurses have been the top-ranked profession in America for 11 straight years.
“Being trusted has its own reward but can be humbling at the same time,” Pusztai said. “Many nurses would say they have a ‘calling’. We are a critical part of the patient’s medical care. We make a difference in lives.” All of that equates to great opportunities for growth and enrichment – but that is not only when nurses are on the clock. Nurses take the knowledge and skills they learn and use them every day, not just at work but also in their personal lives. “Few professions are as rewarding and provide such instant gratification,” Bernard said. “The skills you learn are practical and you can use them in a wide variety of ways – as a nurse, a parent, a family member, a neighbor, or a friend.”
Bernard said none of that will change anytime soon, so despite the new challenges of the industry, nursing remains a great option. The next five years will be full of change, but with change comes opportunity,” she said.
Kevin Cary writes about topics related to many different career fields for job-hunt.org.