Changing Careers: Why Nursing Is a Great Idea

If you've been thinking about starting a new career, consider nursing. Although it's not for everybody, a nursing career promises tremendous reward, and expected job growth for practical nurses (PN) and registered nurses (RN) is excellent. Changing careers may seem daunting, but you can become a PN after a year of nursing school, and an RN in two years.

Nursing Jobs in Constant Demand

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of registered nursing jobs nationwide will increase 19 percent by 2022, while those for practical nurses will grow by 25 percent. The nation needs nurses, and as aging baby boomers flood the health care system, that need will only increase. According to BLS data, the five states with the highest levels of nursing employment for registered nurses are California, Texas, New York, Florida and Pennsylvania. The highest concentration of practical nursing jobs is in Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, West Virginia and Tennessee.

A Career with Fast Entry

In order to graduate, practical nurses attend two-semester programs that combine coursework with supervised field practice. These programs prepare you to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). After passing the NCLEX, you can apply for a practical nursing license.

Most registered nurses enter the profession with an associate degree in nursing (ADN). These programs, although competitive to get into, can have you working as an RN in just two years. If you have the time and resources, the best move to make is going to school for your bachelor of science in nursing degree (BSN). RNs with their BSN have an advantage finding jobs and advancing their careers. In addition, some employers are increasingly requiring a BSN for their RNs.

The Benefits of Being a Nurse

The BLS reports that the national median salary for RNs is $65,470 annually and for a PN is $41,540. The rewards of a nursing career go beyond good pay, however. Nurses are the most trusted professionals in America, according to a Gallup poll. The profession also offers tremendous flexibility. In many cases, you can choose what patient population to serve and where you'd like to work. As a travel nurse, you can see the country or even visit different parts of the world. Another way to travel is through military service, where registered nurses receive commissions as officers. RNs with a BSN have the best chance to move into such advanced nursing fields as nurse anesthetist, nurse practitioner or nurse midwife.

But perhaps the greatest benefit of nursing is working in a profession that serves humanity. You can calm a nervous child during his checkup or offer a patient comfort and support before a surgery. Powerful patient advocates, nurses are often the strongest link among patients, physicians, hospital staff and families. Hospital wards are called nursing units for a reason — it is the nurses who are primarily charged with patient care.

Whether you opt to work as a PN or RN, changing careers to nursing might be the best move you ever make. In exchange for the demands of school and work, you will have greater control over your life, make excellent pay and be both highly needed and deeply trusted.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

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Tags: allied-health, LPN, nursing

Charles R. Hooper, MSW

About Charles R. Hooper, MSW

With over 20 years experience as a medical social worker and a master's degree in social work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I have been honored to dedicate most of my professional life to service in health care. I have worked in multiple medical/nursing settings, including cardiology, orthopedics, neurology, trauma care and others. I also founded the medical social work program at a regional trauma center and a very busy emergency department. View all posts by Charles R. Hooper, MSW →