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Nursing Career Guide – Your Biggest Nursing Library

With so many different areas of specialization and more than enough scope for advancing career, nursing is one of the best jobs in the United States. Furthermore, the US is currently facing a shortage of nurses which is why the job opportunities for the nurses are at an all-time high.

Why Choose Nursing?

  • Working as a nurse, you can choose to work in a number of different locations. There are also enough opportunities for both full time and part-time work. Therefore, it can be easy for the employees to find convenient working hours and location.
  • You can choose to work in a variety of healthcare settings such as trauma, public health, education, pediatric care and more.
  • Every new day has its own challenges. Hence, you will never find the job too monotonous
  • You get to work in collaboration with other healthcare professionals and take up roles in planning and implementation of patient care and record evaluation.
  • You are constantly learning new nursing skills and collecting valuable experience at work
  • The nurses have always been in high demand and it has gone even higher currently. Hence, you will never run out of job opportunities
  • You get enough leadership opportunities.
  • The community of nurses is constantly growing, which has led to a better coordination at work
  • Due to a high demand for various preventive health care services, a large number of aging population and other factors, the services of a nurse will always be required
  • As nursing is an exciting career, you can also take up nursing as a second career, working part-time.

Is The Nursing Profession Right For You?

The expectations and reality do not always match. You may feel quite familiar with the nursing career. However, make sure you ask yourself the following questions before deciding the career path for yourself.

  • Will I be able to cope with the challenges of nursing on a daily basis? There are many aspects of the patient. You should consider each one at length and the type of impact it may have on your life
  • Do I have/will I be able to develop the interpersonal skills that are required in comforting the patients and their families and establishing a comfortable relationship for effective communication?
  • Every new day has its own challenges. Hence, you will never find the job too monotonous
  • What are my interests? Will the nursing career provide me with the job satisfaction? Will I be able to learn something new and interesting on a daily basis?
  • Will I be able to communicate the technical and nontechnical information associated with medical care in an effective manner?
  • What type of healthcare sector do I want to work in? Are those sectors available in my preferred location? Will it be convenient for me to work in the preferred sector?
  • Am I willing to invest the time in taking up the training courses for nursing?
  • Will I be able to make full utilization of my abilities in the job area?

Employment Facts

Mentioned below are some of the interesting employment facts about nursing.

1. Nurses get to choose from more than 100 different types of profession

It should not come as a surprise that there are many different types of nursing, and the job descriptions can be different for each area of specialization. It is estimated that there are exactly 104 different professions that nurses get to choose from. The candidates are free to choose any type of training course, degree programs, certifications and job of their interest. Some of these include clinical study, community service, surgical units, family health, management and advanced practice.

2. Enough opportunities for employment

It has been estimated that there are currently 2.9 million nurses working in the United States, this is quite a huge number and is an implication of the fact there are enough employment opportunities for nurses. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has expected this number to grow to 3.2 million by the years 2022. This does not mean that nursing is not competitive, but the candidates get to choose from a wide option of employers, location, and the work setting.

3. Nurses can work independently

It is a common notion that nurses only work under the supervision of seniors or more credentialed health care providers. This is not quite the entire truth. Although many nurses work as assistants to doctors and other senior nurses, they can also choose to continue their education and get advanced level degrees and become nurse practitioners and advanced practice nurses. With such degrees, they may work in collaboration with doctors or independently.

4. Only 3 out of 5 nurses work in hospitals

Thinking of nurses, people often assume the hospitals as the major employers. However, in reality, only 3 out of 5 nurses work in hospitals. Others may work in multiple fields such as schools, occupational nursing, private clinics, forensic departments, as midwives, educators, nurse writers, legal consultants and more.

How To Become A Nurse?

Different nurses have different educational requirements. It is also their training and credentials that determine the responsibilities they are assigned at work as well as the salary range. Given below are the different education programs of all levels for the nurses.

1. LPN and LVN Programs

The LPN and LVN programs take one year for completion and are offered in community colleges, technical schools, and vocational schools. The candidates are given classroom education as well as clinical training. The courses include physiology, nutrition, anatomy, nutrition and more.

2. Associate’s Degree

The candidates who are aspiring to get certified as a registered nurse take up this degree program. The courses include nutrition, medical practices, anatomy and adult care. Upon completion of the course, the candidates are held eligible to appear for the NCLEX-RN exam.

3. Bachelor’s Degree

A Bachelor’s degree program allows the students to acquire more knowledge and experience by working in medical settings. It also includes classroom education on topics such as chemistry, infant care, nursing theory, health care and human development.

4. Master’s Degree

After the completion of any of the undergraduate courses and certification as a registered nurse, the nurses can choose to take up the Master of Science in Nursing program after which they receive the tag of an advanced practice nurse. They can choose to take up an area of specialization and become nurse practitioners, midwives, anesthetists or clinical nurse specialists.

5. Certification and Licensing

After the completion of the graduate level courses, the nurses are required to appear for the NCLEX-RN exam held by the NCSBN or the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Upon clearing the exam, the candidates get licensed as registered nurses. There is also another national level exam known as the NCLEX-PN which is taken up the candidates looking to become nurse practitioners. By clearing the NCLEX-PN, the candidates get licensed as nurse practitioners.

Where Do Nurses Work?

A large number of the nurses, that is almost 2.7 million, work in hospitals and similar healthcare settings. The remaining nurses find employment in private physician’s clinics, public agencies, educational services, support services, healthcare services and other nursing care facilities.

Although most nurses work in a proper health care facility, a few of them also work in schools, offices, community centers and in private home care. Some nurses may also choose to be travel nurses, in which case, they travel across different areas, mainly those where health care is not easily accessible and offer their services. It has been estimated that currently, there is a shortage of registered nurses, both domestically as well as abroad.

Regardless of the area of work, the nurses are mainly required to spend a large part of their working hours doing physical activities such as walking, standing, bending, lifting and so on. In fact, it has been estimated that nurses walk at least 4 miles on average each day. Therefore, the daily work can get quite stressful for the nurses both physically as well as mentally. In addition to that, they also remain in close contact with the patients suffering from contagious diseases. Therefore, there are always required to follow a very strict code of protocols and guidelines in order to maintain their own good health.

Surgical and critical care units require the nurses to be present all the 24 hours. Therefore, the nurses working in these areas usually have rotational shifts while the duration of shits, as well as the number, may depend upon the employer. While the nurse working in schools, community health centers, offices or private clinics may have normal working hours, that is during the business hours, the hospital nurses may be required to work at odd hours including nights, evening, weekends and oftentimes, even during the holidays.

Types Of Nurses

Mentioned below are some of the interesting employment facts about nursing.

1. Registered Nurses : Nurses who have acquitted the RN certification by clearing the NCLEX-RN exam.

2. Licensed Practical Nurse : They work under the supervision of registered nurses.They work under the supervision of registered nurses.

3. Clinical Nurse Specialist : They are advanced practice nurse who have a role in the treatment as well as the diagnostic processes.

4. Nurse Practitioner : Although they may collaborate with the doctors, the nurse practitioners may also work independently in the area of health care.

5. Nurse Case Manager : They are responsible for coordinating the long-term care of patients.

6. Intensive Care Unit Registered Nurse : They provide complex care in hospitals and nursing homes to patients in critical health conditions.

7. Travel Registered Nurse : These nurses perform the same duties as other nurses except that they may have to travel nationally and internationally for weeks and even years at a length.

8. Home Care Registered Nurse : They offer at-home care to the patients outside of hospitals.

9. Operating Room Nurse : They are responsible for ensuring that all the required equipment are thoroughly examined, cleaned and sterilized before the commencement of an operation. They are also supposed to collect all the required medication and aids for the procedure.

10. Staff Nurse : They may work as staffs in a variety of settings such as outpatient facilities, critical care, rehabs and more.

11. Emergency Room Nurse : They are registered nurses working in the emergency department in hospitals.

12. Labor and Delivery Registered nurse : They provide care for the newborn and the mother.

13. Medical/Surgical Registered Nurse : They specialize in various different kinds of adult care.

14. Nurse Supervisor : They have administrative roles and oversee/ supervise the other staffs working under them.

15. Oncology Registered Nurse : They specialize in the care and treatment of the cancer patients exclusively.

16. Critical Care Registered Nurse : They are responsible for providing optimal care for the critically ill patients.

17. Neonatal Intensive Care Registered Nurse : They take care of the newborns who are born with or have a high risk for critical illnesses.

18. Dialysis Registered Nurse : These are registered nurses who are trained to be proficient in administering dialysis to the patients.

19. Post-Anesthesia Care Unit Registered Nurse : These nurses are responsible for the assessment of patients after they regain consciousness following anesthetization and guide them back to normal health.

Nurse Job Descriptions

Nurses find employment in all types of healthcare settings, including the nursing homes, hospitals, care centers, medical offices, retail clinics, community health centers, and more. Outside of the traditional healthcare settings, the nurses may also work in schools, offices, prisons, tourist destinations, sporting events, camps, homeless shelters, prisons, etc. Their main job is to promote the health of the patients and offer their services to the superior health care providers during treatment procedures.

If the nurses have enough credentials, they may also be allowed to work autonomously without any supervision. However, the state legislature can play a huge role in determining the type of job that is assigned to the nurses. Hence, the job descriptions for the same nurse may vary significantly from one state to the other. Apart from providing their services in the required area, they may also take up roles such as educators and counselors for the patients and their families.

Their main tasks include performing physical exams on the patients or assist the doctors in doing so. They are also the ones to offer primary care, such as wound dressing, administration of medication, IV drips, timely recording of blood pressure, temperature and so on. In any case, they are required to work with a high degree of coordination with the entire team. In some, cases, the nurses also get involved in research programs to come upon optimal treatment plans for the patient.

The Typical Duties of Nurses

  • Frequent assessment of the patient
  • Developing and reviewing patient care plans
  • Timely administration of the medications
  • Providing care both before and after a surgery
  • Keeping a check on the fluid intake of the patients, mainly the IV infusions
  • Collecting samples from the patients for testing
  • Measuring the heart rate, blood pressure and temperature on a timely basis
  • Documenting accurate records
  • Offering supervision and guidance to the junior staff
  • Organizing the workloads for different staff
  • Communicating with the patients and their families and offering emotional support when needed
  • Educating the candidates aspiring to be nurses in nursing schools
  • Noting for vital signs of the patients
  • Holding consultations with the doctors and senior nurses about the health of patients
  • Performing diagnosis
  • Offering services in case of medical emergencies such as car accidents, strokes, heart attacks, burns and more

Nurse Responsibilities

  • Maintaining a detailed report about the entire medical history of the patient
  • Finding out of the patient is susceptible to certain allergies
  • Checking if the patients have taken their medication on time, assisting in wound dressing and more
  • Build a close relationship with the patient wherein the patients may feel free in communicating all their concerns or things that have been affecting their comfort.
  • Supervise the staff working with them and make sure that things are under control at all times

Wages And Benefits For A Nurse

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for nurses is $52,330. The figures are likely to vary for different nurse groups. For example, the registered nurses may earn more than the licensed practical nurse while the nurse practitioners and advanced nurses have a higher salary range than the registered nurses. To cut it short, the amount of education and credentials can have a huge impact on the overall salary. To make it short, the more specialized a nurse is, the more likely is he/she to have a bigger pay scale. Other things that affect the pay scale of a nurse include the cost of living, local economy, specialty area of work and years of experience working their respective field.

Nursing is also considered to be the most stable out of all the jobs in the healthcare industry. The nurses also get the opportunity of advancing their career while still working under certain employers. Most of the times, the entire cost of tuition is financed by the employer and the nurses offer them their services after the completion of the course. At any times, they have a very wide range of career options to choose from.

As far as the work area is concerned, the nurses working in hospitals are likely to have larger earning as compared to those working in outpatient facilities, private care or long-term care centers. The survey conducted by the US Bureau of Labor and statistics revealed that the nurses working for private employment services or agencies had an average annual income of $63,170 while the nurses who were working in hospitals under the medical or surgical units have an average salary of $53,450 on an annual basis. On the other hand, nurses working in nursing homes had an annual average salary of $48,220.

Since the supply and demand dynamics for the nurses tend to change considerably from one state to the other, the salaries, too, tend to change considerably. It is seen that the average hourly wages for nurses working in California are $31.88 while for those working in Florida, The average hourly salary is as low as $23.26 per hour. The overall salary may also be determined by whether the nurse has been taking night shifts, working overtime, the tips and bonuses received, all of which are included in the total compensation for the nurses.

While considering the salaries, it is also important to consider the various benefits offered by the employers. For example, an employee with a small salary, but who has been receiving a lot of subsidies may be able to save more than a highly paid nurse working in a metropolitan city with a high cost of living. Oftentimes, the employers provide the nurses with benefits such as free health insurance, medical aids, subsidized or free living quarters, flexible schedules, bonuses or a certain number of days as fixed leave. The benefits of being a nurse can basically be divided into two categories, the monetary benefits, and the career benefits. The following section discusses both of them separately.

Highest Nurse Salary Paying States
STATE Hourly Mean Wage Monthly Mean Wage Annual Mean Wage
California $48.92 $8,479 $1,01,750
Massachusetts $42.82 $7,421 $89,060
Hawaii $42.75 $7,409 $88,910
Oregon $41.83 $7,250 $87,000
Alaska $41.56 $7,204 $86,450
Lowest Nurse Salary Paying States
STATE Hourly Mean Wage Monthly Mean Wage Annual Mean Wage
South Dakota $26.80 $4,566 $54,800
Iowa $26.65 $4,645 $55,750
Alabama $26.72 $4,658 $55,900
Mississippi $26.89 $4,662 $55,950
Arkansas $27.36 $4,737 $56,850

Monetary Benefits

  • Nurses are apt to receive a facility known as Paid Time Off which is when they are allowed fully paid leaves. Many hospitals give up to 180 fully paid leaves to their employees in a year.
  • Since the nurses are required to work in the area of healthcare, they are very likely to receive free health insurances from their employees, not only for them but also for the entire family.
  • After completing the normal term of service, the nurses are given pensions on a regular basis. Those who have served for longer terms are likely to have higher pensions.
  • Almost every employer offers dental insurance to their interested employees
  • The employees can start retirement accounts where they can deposit a certain sum every time a payment is made. This can help you evade certain taxes. Furthermore, if you have opened a savings account of this sort, the employees also make a contribution to the total sum on a percentage basis. For example, if you receive a salary of $50,000 per month and decide to put $3000 into the savings account, the employer may match it and add another $3000.
  • Many healthcare organizations have life insurance plans for their employees. This means that if you get involved in some major accidents, the medical expenses will be covered by the employer.
  • Many a time, the employers cover up for the tuition cost of nurses who are willing to go for higher education
  • The employers also offer childcare plan to their children.

Other Benefits

Nursing is one of the largest and most secure professions within the healthcare industry.

  • The work schedules for nurses can be very flexible. They can choose to work both part time and full time. They can also choose the shifts that can be adjusted to their schedule. There are nurses who have 4 days a week job and others who work only on Saturdays and Sundays.
  • Since the nurses are constantly working for the welfare of the others, it could be a highly rewarding experience mentally.
  • The nurse jobs are available in every corner of the planet. Therefore, the nurses can choose any location for work. They can easily travel from one pace to the other seeking better career prospects or designations
  • Nurses get to change their work area on a regular basis. For example, they may choose to work in California for a year and then opt for a transfer to Hawaii the next.
  • Nurses can also opt for free trips to national and international destinations in order to provide health care to the deprived people with little access to healthcare.

Nursing Jobs Opportunity

Currently, there is a shortage of both the registered nurses as well as the nursing assistants/aides, which is why there are more than enough job opportunities for the nurses. The vacancies are expected to grow even more with a large population nearing old age. They are in high demand, not only in hospitals and nursing homes but across all the different work settings. Therefore, it would not be very difficult to find employment in a location and position convenient you.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has stated the currently, registered nursing is the largest career in health care. Presently, there are more than 2 million nurses working in all of the United States and this number is gradually rising. It has been estimated to expand by almost 20 percent by 2024. Out of all the nurses, a total of 25 % are part-time workers. Newer job vacancies are expected to arise from the rising number of newer healthcare facilities, the employees who are nearing retirement age and also the nurses who make adjustments to their career and opt for a part-time work instead of full time.

It has also been revealed that out of every 5 nurses, 3 find employment in hospitals and nursing homes.

Other areas of employment include

  • Physicians’ offices
  • Employment services
  • Nursing care facilities
  • Government agencies
  • Home health care
  • Social service agencies
  • Education sectors, mainly in the nursing universities, schools and colleges.

Nursing can be quite a challenging job and the individuals working in this field should always have a high level of technical skills, deeply oriented knowledge as well as the soft skills to deal with the stress at work. They have many responsibilities and are always required to work with caution. They should be prepared to serve at odd hours, work overtime and take extra precautions at all times in order to preserve their own health. However, it could be an ideal and a highly gratifying job, mainly for people who love serving others.