Becoming a nurse is one of the greatest moves you can make in your career. Nurses today have unmatched job security, flexibility, and the unique opportunity to make a difference in others’ lives. This is especially true since the global, COVID-19 pandemic began, when the world recognized the true value and importance of nurses in our communities. If you choose to study nursing, you can look forward to a respected, gratifying, and vital career where you can change the world every day.
Of course, being a nurse is not always peaches and cream. While there are many fulfilling benefits of a nursing career, there are also challenges that come with the job. Nursing is a fast-moving field where you must constantly think on your feet. It is also requires long shifts on your feet, moving from patient to patient to help those in need. As much as you want to study nursing, you may have concerns about the daily challenges you’ll have to overcome.
Often, we have students come to our nursing admissions team and say, “I want to study nursing, but I have some concerns.” Whether it’s personal obstacles or general hesitations weighing on them, it is not uncommon to have this thought before stepping into class. However, it’s important to remember that we often fear what we do not know. And it is the act of stepping outside our comfort zones that really is what helps us grow. If you are thinking to yourself, “I want to major in nursing, but…”, stop there.
Below we put to rest some of the common concerns students have before starting their nursing degree.
“I Want to Study Nursing, But…”
- “I am scared that nursing school will be too hard.”
Right now, your biggest concern might be the workload ahead. To become a nurse, you must have great knowledge of the sciences and human health. You must have immense precision and technique to administer treatments and care. This requires a lot of training, experience, and education – and the thought of learning this new practice might feel overwhelming to you.
The truth is, nursing school can be tough at times, but it is not impossible. Your nursing program wants to see you succeed. Your professors will work hard to prepare you for a nursing career, and you will want to put in the hard work to become a great nurse.
This should not be seen as a hurdle. So many nurses love what they do because they feel challenged and motivated every day. In fact, according to a recent workplace survey, almost two-thirds of employees are engaged in their career because they feel challenged in their role. Those who are not challenged do not feel the same level of engagement or satisfaction in their careers.
It is not uncommon to worry that nursing school will be too hard or rigorous, especially if you have other obligations like a job or family at home. How will you balance it all? If this sentiment applies to you, know that there are flexible options out there. For example, you may be eligible to pursue an accelerated nursing program, where you can earn your degree at a quicker pace. Or, you may take part-time nursing classes while still maintaining your job. Goodwin University, for example, offers a part-time scheduling option for aspiring nurses, where you can complete your associate degree in nursing in as few as 20 months part-time.
- “I don’t want to work in a hospital providing bedside care.”
Often when we think of nurses, we think of those bustling about the hospital, rushing to provide bedside care. However, the career opportunities for nurses stretch far beyond hospital walls. You do not have to work in this setting to thrive or even get hired as a nurse. There are many other types of nurses out there, such as home health nurses, labor and delivery nurses, military nurses, pediatric nurses, oncology nurses, prison nurses, and more.
As you start thinking about a nursing career, it is important to explore all your options and consider your own interests and goals. Do you want to work with children or the elderly? Do you want to work in a critical care setting, or in a preventive health care practice? Do you wish to work directly with patients or behind-the-scenes? There are bountiful career options for those with a nursing degree.
- “I don’t want to work overnight shifts.”
When first starting out, many aspiring nurses think they will get the short end of the stick regarding their work schedule. They may dread long overnight shifts, working on holidays, or always being on call. While it’s true that these shifts happen, nurses often have the flexibility to create their own schedule.
Patients are always in need of care, and in turn, there is a need for nurses at all times of the day and night. Nurses must provide 24/7 care. However, these shifts are broken up between various nurses. You do not have to work every night or be on call every weekend. Most employers will create a monthly, on-call schedule that is divided equally amongst their staff.
You should also rest assured that there are day shifts available, and you do not need to stay on night shifts all the time. In fact, some areas of nursing do not require night shifts at all! Certain specialty nurses are needed only during normal office hours. School nurses are only needed during the school day. If you do decide to become an ER or hospital nurse, you can still benefit from flexible scheduling. Many of these nurses work three days a week, in 12-hour shifts, and benefit from four days off.
While schedules vary by location and employer, there is no rule book saying you have to work night shifts or holiday shifts when you first start out.
- “I am worried I won’t be valued in my role.”
Some people assume that nurses don’t quite have the autonomy or the respect that doctors do. As an aspiring nurse, you may worry that you won’t have the opportunity to showcase real value in your job, and that you won’t be acknowledged for the work you do. You may be concerned that this, in turn, will reflect on your paycheck as a nurse.
Doctors, physicians, and surgeons have invested great time in their education, and as a result, reap great benefits in terms of their salary and autonomy as practitioners. However, it is important to know that this does not diminish or belittle the value that nurses hold. Registered Nurses are among the most respected individuals in healthcare because of their constant and consistent ability to provide care. As the COVID-19 pandemic showed us, nurses have some of the most demanding jobs within healthcare, but they are also highly-recognized for their work. They are true healthcare heroes.
Despite popular belief, Registered Nurses also have a lot of independence in their roles. When you become licensed as an RN, you will gain the ability to work directly with patients and coordinate patient care plans. You will find that you are not simply working under doctors, but instead, you are working alongside them and an entire team to determine the best possible treatment for your patients.
Ultimately, the work you put in will be reflected in your salary. Today, Registered Nurses have the potential to earn over $116,000 annually, though the average income for RNs in the United States is about $75,000 per year. Nurses in Connecticut earn almost $85,000 annually, on average.
- “What if I’m not good at it?”
Many nursing students fear that, after all is said and done, they will not be “good” at providing patient care. They may lack confidence in their ability to work in fast-paced, life-or-death situations. They may fear they won’t be able to handle hard cases or even sights of blood. They may worry about thriving under pressure.
It’s first important to know that your time in nursing school will prepare you for your future as a nurse. You will learn all of the skills and techniques needed to provide patient care. These will become embedded into your mind and will become second nature as you launch your career. Nursing school does not want you to fail, and will work hard to make sure you are ready for this line of work. You will complete clinical experiences before graduation, to help prepare you for real patients and medical settings.
If you faulter along the way, that is okay! There will be other clinicians to help you back up, especially when you are just starting out as a Registered Nurse. However, more than likely, you will be surprised by your own ability to work under pressure and put your fears aside to help those patients in need.
The other thing to remember is that you will always have options in nursing. If you feel you are not thriving in an ER setting, you can always move to a private practice, school nursing, nurse management, or another area of the field. Even if you decide you cannot stand the sight of blood, you have alternative options! Do not let this fear hold you back.
- “What if I don’t find a job?”
It is true that nursing is a highly competitive field. Many people want to become nurses to help those in need, and employers are seeking the most qualified nurses for the job. It is also important to know that it is the largest sector of healthcare, with more than three million nurses employed in the United States. Even still, the country is experiencing a nursing shortage. We need even more nurses to step up as nurses in older generations retire.
The beauty of this field is that there will always be a need for nurses. As preventive health becomes a greater priority for families, nurses will grow in demand. For you, this means great job security. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 194,500 job openings are projected each year for Registered Nurses, on average, between 2020 and 2030.
Why Do You Want to Study Nursing?
Rather than concerning yourself with the ‘what ifs’ and ‘buts,’ ask yourself the reasons why you want to study nursing in the first place. Many of the reasons cited by our nursing students include:
- To make a difference and help those in need
- To find stability and security in my job, as nurses are always in demand
- To explore the many career options within healthcare, beyond hospital walls
- To enter an exciting career, where no day is the same
- To have flexibility in my work schedule
- To travel the world and help others
- To specialize in a certain area of healthcare
- To gain valuable healthcare knowledge that will apply to all facets of life
Whatever your reason for becoming a nurse, use that to motivate your next steps. Do not let fear and worry hold you back. You can make a real difference in the lives of others, as long as you put your mind to it. The beauty of nursing is that there is something for everyone, no matter your interests, your skillsets, or your career goals. Whether you’re working with patients in a hospital, or behind-the-scenes in a research lab, or managing a nursing department, there is a place for you.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.