Want to get in on the ground floor of a profession that offers flexibility, lucrative pay, attractive benefits, and unparalleled opportunity? If so, a career in the field of nursing may be for you.
As the single largest occupational category in the rapidly expanding health care sector, registered nurses may enjoy an array of enviable perks and benefits. In some locales, health care facilities have difficulty recruiting and retaining qualified personnel, and as a result, these medical professionals may often command attractive salaries, flexible schedules, generous leave policies, and many other extras.
However, before you can enjoy the benefits of a career as a registered nurse, you have to make a significant commitment to training and education. Most jobs in this field may require at least a bachelor's degree in nursing, and managerial and supervisory positions may require a master's degree or more. Still, with the plethora of distance learning opportunities that are available today, pursuing RN or LPN degree may be more convenient.
Nursing School: What to Expect
Entry-level nursing positions may be available for licensed practical nurses (LPNs), who typically need to complete a year-long training program and pass state licensing exams before practicing as a nurse. LPN programs include basic nursing concepts such as anatomy, physiology, and first aid as well as clinical rotations.
For more advanced nursing roles, many students choose to become licensed as a registered nurse (RN) by completing either a two-year associate's degree or a four-year bachelor's degree. Bachelor's-prepared RNs typically have the greatest job opportunities and salary potential, and many nurses who have completed LPN training or associate's degrees in nursing chose to complete bridge programs that help them earn a bachelor's degree in an accelerated amount of time.
Finally, advanced practice nurses hold a master's degree in nursing and are qualified to work in administration or health care settings, often with greater independence than either RNs or LPNs.
All nurses are required to continue their education in order to keep their credentials up to date. Today, many institutions offer nursing CEUs and other continuing education opportunities online.
Career Options for Nursing School Graduates
After you have chosen and completed an accredited nursing school degree program, there may be dozens of career paths, ranging from those in traditional health care settings to other sectors, such as public school systems. Here is a sampling of common and not-so-common job titles often pursued by nursing school grads:
- Operating room nurse
- Oncology nurse
- Staff nurse
- Pediatric nurse
- Critical care nurse
- On-flight nurse
- Nurse case manager
- Nurse educator
- Patient care coordinator
Salary Outlook for Nursing School Degree HoldersNurse salaries may vary significantly according to geographic location, education, experience, and specialty. Typical salaries reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2010 data include:
- Registered nurses: $64,690
- Licensed practical nurses: $40,380
Although job prospects for all credentialed nurses are likely to be promising in the years to come, the most lucrative positions might be reserved for candidates with bachelor's degrees or master's degrees or for those with specialized training in a specific practice area.
If the idea of a challenging career with excellent opportunity for growth sounds appealing, you may consider pursuing nursing as a profession. The increasing ubiquity of online courses in nursing may make it simple for prospective students considering this career to get started in the field.