When people picture nurses, they often have a very old-fashioned view of it, perhaps just seeing them as someone who holds people’s hands or changes bedding. However, nursing has become a complex, challenging career choice, with lots of different branches to cover the changing needs of the healthcare industry. Here are some things you may not know about nursing that may make you want to consider a career change into this important role.
- More Men are Getting into the Nursing Profession
One of the dated images that people often have of nurses is that they are all women. While this may have been true in the past, in 1960 only 2% of nurses were men. Now more males are joining the profession. Around 13% of nurses in the USA are men, so while there’s still a big gender gap, it’s predicted to narrow in future. This is already happening in some areas of nursing. For example, 40% of nurse anesthetists are male.
- You Can Study Nursing Online
While studying to be a nurse involves clinical placements, it is possible to get the initial qualifications through online study. You can study for a BSN — a bachelor’s in nursing — to kick-start your career, then once you graduate, take the required exams to become an RN.
Those who work in nursing will often do further study so that they can go into different specialisms. For example, at Baylor University you can study for a DNP, a Doctor of Nursing Practice, which allows you to get into specialist roles such as family nursing or midwifery. Again, this can be done online, so if you’re already working as a nurse, it can fit in with your busy career.
- Nurses Can Achieve Six-Figure Salaries
The sort of people who become nurses aren’t the kind of people who expect to become rich. However, nurses can achieve above average salaries, depending on a number of factors:
- State – nurses’ salaries vary from state to state, with California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts at the top of the list
- Specialisms – the highest paying nursing specialties tend to be those that require further study, with anesthetists, nurse practitioners, and midwifes earning on average over $100k
- Setting – nurses who work in hospitals rather than clinics tend to earn more, due to the additional stress and specialist nature of these roles
- Area – nurses who work in city locations will earn more than those working in suburban or rural areas
Nursing is hard work, but if you’re willing to put in the work and study more, there are good financial rewards.
- There are Lots of Opportunities to Progress
Experience is highly valued in the nursing profession and the healthcare industry tends to be good at promoting from within. While many people are in careers that are stagnant, nursing offers a number of different opportunities as you go further into your career. Whether you go into a specialism, teach other nurses, or even start your own business and offer private nursing services, you will never run out of opportunities to go further. If you don’t know what you want to do right now, don’t worry. You can take the general nursing qualifications and then decide once you’ve got some experience, or simply see where your career takes you.
- Nurses Get Opportunities to Work Around the World
Qualifying as a nurse doesn’t mean you have to stay in the USA for the rest of your career. For starters, there are often opportunities for nurses to work abroad with the US government, with organizations such as the CDC and defense department that give you the pay and benefits you’d expect from a USA-based job. This allows you to see more of the world while you move up the career ladder.
There are often opportunities for USA qualified nurses to move to other countries where there might be shortages such as the UK or Australia. Being a nurse will often get you lots of visa points, and there may even be cash incentives to move to a different country.
- Nurses Don’t Always Work in Hospitals
A big misconception about nursing is that all nurses work in big hospitals, but the truth is, you can find nurses in pretty much any healthcare setting. Some places where nurses work include:
- As part of the armed forces
- Residential homes
- In patient’s own homes
Nurses who work in hospitals don’t just work on the wards either. There are often opportunities for them to work in operating theaters, ICU, the ER, and other challenging environments. Therefore, lots of different people work as nurses as there are career paths to suit different personalities.
- It’s Not Always Their First Career
Nursing requires a lot of different skills, so while some people study to become a nurse straight out of high school, others come into this career later in life. The average age of a new registered nurse is 30, which means lots of people come into this field having done a completely different career, raised a family, or worked as a nurse’s aide or in a similar healthcare role. The average age for an RN to retire is 62, but this varies depending on what you can take on physically. Certain nursing roles are less physically demanding or can be done part-time for those who aren’t ready to retire in their early 60s.
If you’re afraid to study nursing because you worry you’ve left it too late, then don’t be nervous. It’s likely you’ll have classmates in their 30s, 40s or even 50s and meet people from lots of different and interesting backgrounds.
People’s perceptions of nursing careers are slowly changing to be broader and more inclusive of the many different people who become nurses. Nurses are taking on more and more specialist roles within healthcare, and provide a vital link between patient and doctor. Hopefully this means people will start to reconsider their notions about this career path.