Nursing is one of the most prestigious careers. Their importance has increased even more due to the pandemic, and their selfless service under difficult circumstances has been highlighted even more. The truth is, nursing will always be viewed as one of the best professions for as long as humans exist. Thus, this career can never be downgraded.
Today, diseases are evolving, and nurses’ jobs are becoming more complicated and challenging. They must work with the latest technology to gather relevant data and medical evidence to treat patients. Moreover, nurses are no longer just caregivers; they are being promoted to administrative roles, taking on more responsibility. To remain competitive in their fields, they need to gain relevant skills and knowledge.
Unfortunately, the long hours of juggling work with studies may discourage some people from pursuing this field. The fear of added responsibility may rob them of their lifelong dream and deprive them of incredible opportunities and exciting experiences.
Factors contributing to increasing the need for skilled nurses
Another side of reality is that this profession needs more people. The acute nursing shortage will have a ripple effect in lowered healthcare standards. A great deal of nursing staff is also needed because of the rapidly growing baby boomer population. According to an estimation, nearly 60,000 nurses have been exiting this profession every year since 2012.
Do you see the implication of this number? The time is not too far when the nurse-to-patient ratio will reach an alarming stage, and burnout will be more prevalent if the situation remains unchanged. The responsibility lies on many people. Healthcare must encourage existing nurses to enroll in higher education RN to BSN Degree programs; hospitals should incentivize nurses to excel in their careers. And finally, students making career decisions must prefer nursing and play their essential role in ensuring the survival of humanity. Here is a brief guide to becoming a skilled nurse for all those thinking about nursing but unsure about which path to take.
1. Choose the right nursing path
Your journey of becoming a skilled nurse starts with choosing the right nursing path. The decision depends on what you want to achieve in your professional life and where you see yourself standing in a few years. Your career may start at working as a Certified Nurse Assistant. Else, you may not desire to enter the field until you have an advanced degree; it all depends on your preferences.
You should also consider the environment in which you want to work. For instance, as an RN, you can work in hospitals’ private care facilities and collaborate with doctors. But if you’re going to work in educational settings, such as nursing schools, universities, communities, the educational path will be to become a nursing educator. Moreover, for administrative roles, you need to have an administrative degree. Since there are so many facets of healthcare, deciding the career path holds paramount importance.
2. Receive a nursing degree
Next is the step of getting a nursing degree. Getting a formal education is extremely important for nurses as it develops their theoretical base about nursing. You learn about the history and development of nursing, theories and their use, clinical concepts, patient care strategies, and much more. There are a lot of degree options in nursing. Sifting through all of them can be extremely tiring, but collecting exhaustive knowledge makes it easier to decide. Choosing the right degree is important in determining what kind of nurse you want to be in your life. The degree options available to you as an aspiring nurse include the following:
- ADN or Associate Degree in Nursing
This is the most basic nursing degree that develops a solid foundational base about nursing. As a student, you need two to three years of nursing coursework. So, it requires the least amount of time and money to have an associate degree in nursing. But the only thing is that you will have limited career opportunities with this qualification.
- BSN or Bachelor of Science in Nursing
BSN is considered an important degree in nursing. It improves your chances of employment and earning potential compared to an associate degree. Some nurses directly enroll in a BSN degree program; it eliminates their need to have an ADN. A BSN degree consists of three to four years of coursework.
The perk of BSN is that many positions are only available to you with a BSN degree. According to the recent ACCN data, more than 80% of employers prefer to see a BSN degree in the resume of new hires. However, just like an associate degree in nursing, you are not eligible to practice until you have passed the national licensure examination (NCLEX).
Master of Science in Nursing: MSN is often considered a terminal degree in nursing. Mostly, you need to have a BSN to enroll in an MSN degree. You are eligible to hold leadership and managerial positions with an MSN degree. You can also work as a nursing educator. An MSN nurse earns even more than a BSN nurse; more importantly, you can hone your skills in one specific nurse practitioner specialty. The most popular specialties are anesthesia nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, gerontology nurse, etc.
3. Obtain your nursing license
As mentioned earlier, you cannot work in a professional capacity before passing your nursing exam to obtain a license. The licensing requirements differ from state to state. There are many licensing exams, so you must know which exam you are taking. Most popular exams include Certified Nursing Assistant, which makes you eligible for limited responsibilities; National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) enables you to assume slightly higher responsibilities like administering medicine and conducting tests. Then there is the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN), with which you can perform all the jobs of an RN. Of all, this is the most in-depth exam.
4. Get employed
Once you have the license, the only thing left is finding a job at a reputable organization. But fortunately, nursing is a growing field; therefore, it is not difficult for most people to have a job. According to BLS, the employment of registered nurses will increase by 9% from 2020 to 2030. While in the same period, the job outlook of nurse practitioners stands at 52%. But as nursing is one of the lucrative careers, it is possible to face an ample share of completion.
Though there are many steps to becoming a nurse, going through them ultimately makes the process much more manageable. Getting employment and settling down is not the end but can be a resting point for a few years. So, you must earn a specialty after gaining professional experience.