Careers in nursing can take you on an exciting and rewarding path. This job isn’t just about tending to people’s needs in a hospital; it also incorporates leadership skills and educational roles within the workplace. The demand for qualified and registered nurses is rising, and this vocation is something you can do for life.
As patient numbers grow and medical needs change, nurses are required to step up to the challenge and adapt to the requirements of the ever-evolving sector. So if this sounds like the type of role you’d love to pursue, then take a look at what it takes to become a registered nurse.
1. Choose your career path in nursing
While you don’t have to have it set in stone from the outset, it is a good idea to think about the type of environment you’d like to work in before taking the next steps in your career. There are many roles, including nursing jobs in hospitals, doctors’ offices, and other medical clinics. There are also different types of nursing care for the varying sectors of the population, including geriatrics or pediatrics.
2. Get a nursing degree
To become a nurse, you will be required to obtain a bachelor of science in nursing or equivalent. Degree programs typically involve a selection of taught lessons and clinical experience to help you gain hands-on knowledge. Work experience in your degree also prepares you for what life is like in the environment you want to work in. You can study many types of degrees, including online courses and lesson-based options at colleges or universities. Many can fit around your lifestyle too, so this offers you the chance to work while you gain a qualification.
3. Getting licensed
Once you have achieved a degree in nursing, you need to be able to demonstrate your experience and knowledge by taking a test. This test is an essential part of gaining your license to practice. Different types of nursing positions have varying requirements; some examples include:
- Registered nurse (RN) – Take a state-approved certificate program, pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN).
- Certified Nursing Assistant – Undertake a state competency test.
- Nurse Midwife – Take an MSN; pass the NCLEX-RN and the national certification exam administered by the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB).
4. Continued professional development
The medical sector never stands still. There is always so much to learn and new ways of improving health care for the public. As a nurse, you need to ensure you are always ahead of the curve in your career. This involves taking relevant add-on courses and professional development training. If you are looking to move into different or more advanced roles, then further training may be required. Some positions also require a master’s education, so this may be an option to further your career.
In most states, nurses are required to complete additional training every two years to keep the relevant licensure. Different states have varying requirements, so check with your local nursing board for further information.
5. Nursing careers outlook
Figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics highlight the average salary for registered nurses is $73,300 (2019). The outlook for people looking to pursue a career in this role is encouraging too. The sector is projected to grow by 7% from 2019 to 2029. This is faster than the average for most occupations.
6. Specialist nursing roles and career opportunities
The nursing field is also expanding into a number of specialist roles that could create a wealth of opportunity for experienced candidates. Some examples include:
As we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, people require care and advice from the comfort of their own home. The role of a virtual nurse is to provide guidance and triage for patients over the phone or video call.
For those with extensive experience and knowledge in nursing, an educational role is a perfect option. The need for educators for the next generation of nurses is crucial. Surprisingly, in 2018, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) stated that over 75,000 qualified candidates were turned down due to faculty staff shortages.
The population as a whole is getting older and many people in their mature years have chronic conditions that require round the clock help. Specialist nurses in areas such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and osteoporosis are just some of the necessary medical specialisms.
While nursing is a rewarding occupation, it also requires hard work and dedication throughout your career.