Nurses often say their job is more of a “calling” in life than a career path but even for those whose primary aim is helping people and making the world a better place, there are a number of other reasons why this profession continues to be so popular and sought after. With skills shortages persisting across the US and the emergence of accessible online education options, there has never been a better time to enter the healthcare industry. Here are twelve reasons why you should become a nurse.
Nursing regularly tops the list of “most respected professions” in Gallup’s annual job survey, with 84% of US citizens rating their honesty and ethical standards as either “very high” or “high”, which puts it way ahead of other roles. Nurses have been rated the highest in this survey since the inaugural list was published way back in 1999. There simply isn’t another profession that Americans believe is as important or worthy as nursing. By becoming a nurse, people will associate you with the compassion and integrity this profession is renowned for.
Nurses now earn an average of $82,750 per year according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which equates to an impressive $40 per hour. Registered nurses saw salary growth of 3.3% in 2021, and with demand set to surge in the coming years, it is likely that qualified professionals will see a further increase in take-home pay. What’s more, even newly graduated nurses can now expect to earn up to $65,000, so decades of experience are not required for a solid salary. Nurses also have the potential to earn more by gaining additional qualifications and certifications after graduation.
High demand, skills shortages
There is currently a shortage of skilled workers in healthcare, so anyone entering the industry with the right qualifications will be highly sought after by employers. The BLS expects roles for registered nurses to jump 9% by the end of the decade. The demand for nurses is set to be strong across the majority of states in the US, with skills shortages to remain a problem for the foreseeable future, especially in California, Texas, New Jersey, and South Carolina, according to projections from the HRSA. There are several reasons for this, including the fact that 86% of baby boomers are planning to retire within five years.
High job satisfaction
In addition to being respected by others, nurses are also among the most fulfilled, with the vast majority claiming to be “satisfied” with their career choice, according to a survey by AMN Healthcare.
An overwhelming number are also happy with the quality of care they provide, while seven in ten would encourage others to become a nurse. The active, challenging nature of the work means every day is different in nursing, which keeps things interesting. But perhaps most importantly, nurses feel like they are making a difference in the world by providing the care and assistance patients need.
Accessible education options
If you want to make a difference, you can start working towards a career in nursing by identifying an accredited institution where you will be able to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). Completing a BSN typically takes around four years for undergraduates, but if you already have an associate degree, such as an Associate of Arts (AA), it might only take 12 months. After you have earned a degree, you will need to pass an NCLEX exam and obtain state licensure to practice as a nurse.
After you have earned a BSN, you can advance your career further and increase your earning potential by completing a master’s degree. As already noted, the dearth of skills in the industry means there is currently a high demand for nurses and the best way to get the advanced skills employers crave is through further education and professional development after graduation. An online Master of Science in Nursing features an accredited program that aims to develop students personally and professionally. These online programs at leading universities are designed for working nurses, so you don’t have to worry about moving to campus or disrupting your work-life balance.
Specialize based on passion and interests
This is another reason why nursing is a popular profession. Nurses can specialize their careers based on specific interests after they have acquired a BSN. If you decide against pursuing work in direct patient care, you could instead use your degree to become a nurse attorney and represent clients in courtrooms or a nurse entrepreneur and start healthcare-related business ventures. And if you do want to focus mainly on nursing, you can use your BSN to take a Family Nurse Practitioner or Nurse Educator master’s degree, among other programs. This highlights how you can tailor your career as you progress in the industry. There are more than 100 different nursing specialties. You don’t have to fear being locked into a particular role.
Flexible working hours
Nursing is worlds away from a rote 9-5 office job. Working hours are flexible, and you are likely to be on the goand on your feet for much of the day and not stuck in a chair at a desk. Nurses generally have the option of several different shift patterns which last between eight and twelve hours. They also work full-time, part-time, or “by the day” on-call. The American Journal of Nursing has noted that this flexible scheduling is beneficial for everyone involved. Nurses don’t have to worry about burnout and have ample opportunity to recharge their batteries.Both the organizations they work for, and patients get a higher standard of expertise and care as a result. Nurses are given autonomy to make important decisions while also collaborating within a team which increases job satisfaction.
Excellent security and benefits
Lucrative pay is not the only thing on offer with a career in nursing. Nurses also get some of the best benefits packages in the US, with paid sick time, vacation, and holidays throughout the year, as well as health and life insurance, childcare, and access to wellness programs and retirement benefits. It is also possible to get tuition reimbursement which makes the process of pursuing further education easier. This level of security gives nurses the peace of mind that they won’t be left without a salary if they have to take leave due to sickness or other unforeseen circumstances. It is also a testament to how much employers in the industry value nurses and the work they do, day in and day out.
Diverse work settings
Registered Nurses don’t just work in hospitals. While being on the front line and offering immediate care to those in need might be your true calling, you will also have the chance to pursue career options in a range of diverse work settings. You could, for example, work in a court of law, laboratory, correctional facility, cruise ship, or airplane. There are industries outside of healthcare that will value your knowledge and skills, so don’t just think that you will have to spend the rest of your career in a hospital.
Meet and help patients
Nursing is a people-facing profession, and you will get to meet patients from diverse backgrounds and from all walks of life. You will be able to use the skills you have learned to help these patients so they can recover from illness and resume a full and active healthy life again. Nurses play a crucial role in society as they are capable of spotting symptoms, communicating this to patients, and providing effective courses of treatment on the frontline of healthcare. Again, this is one of the reasons why so many people are attracted to the profession of nursing. You will always know that you are actually making a difference.
Become a leader
The potential for career advancement in nursing is vast. You could eventually become a nurse leader and oversee a whole team of healthcare professionals using your extensive clinical knowledge and people skills. You can improve your chances of assuming a management role in nursing by completing a master’s degree in nurse executive programs and healthcare management. If you are interested in the business side of healthcare, then this might be an excellent option for you. After graduating, you can apply for roles such as nurse manager and chief nursing officer.
Many of these reasons would be enough on their own, but when combined, it creates a profession that is among the most exciting, rewarding, and secure in the US today. By becoming a nurse, you can literally transform people’s lives and have a tangible impact on the world at large. And know that you can develop and nurture your career and take advantage of a range of workplace benefits to support your own life goals. A bachelor’s degree in nursing could be something truly special for you, so consider your options and get started on pursuing your dream career today.