Before committing to any college degree, it's important to understand the pros and cons of your chosen field. Does it promise good pay? Will there be jobs after graduation? Is it a respected position? Is it a career that you'll enjoy? Nursing is no exception. Before diving into nursing school, you will want to get a feel for the Registered Nurse (RN) career path. It's important to ask questions like, “Is nursing a good career to get into?” and even more so, “Is nursing a good career for me?”
The answer to these questions will vary person to person. Broadly speaking, however, nursing is in fact a great career to pursue — and there are many factors supporting this. The field of nursing promises a bright career outlook, continuous growth opportunities, as well as personal and professional reward. If you are seeking a career that allows you to make an impact on the world, as well as a comfortable living, then nursing is a great career for you.
According to the most recent U.S. News Job Rankings, Registered Nurses rank among the top 10 best healthcare careers in the nation. Even more notably, they rank #13 (in the top percentile) of the best 100 jobs available (across all industries) today. Compensation, employment opportunities, and satisfaction are all considered when ranking the top careers.
Nursing is ranked among the top careers in the United States, due to its salary and job prospects. The job market is booming for nursing professionals, and they can look forward to many advancement opportunities in the field as they grow. According to the U.S News rankings, Registered Nurses also have pretty flexible schedules, an average work-life balance, and upward mobility in the field.
This is just the beginning of what makes nursing such a good career for caring, dedicated professionals. If you are looking for even more reasons to become a nurse, read on. Below we highlight the top factors that make nursing a beyond-good career today.
1. Job Opportunities Abound
Let's start with the obvious — the healthcare industry is booming. Our senior population is growing more than ever before, and as a result, the demand for health services is increasing. Employers are seeking qualified RNs (particularly those with a BSN degree) who can think on their feet, exercise strong patient care, and communicate well with patients, family and team members.
Across the United States, employment of Registered Nurses is projected to grow 12 percent — more than double the average for all occupations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be about 210,400 job openings for Registered Nurses each year, on average, for the next eight years. What this means for you, simply put, is opportunity and stability. Unlike many fields of study today, you can look forward to countless job prospects after college, as well as long-term security in your future role.
2. Strong Earning Potential
Nurses can make a comfortable living, and with such upward mobility in the field, have the potential to earn a lot over time in the field. In 2018, the average annual salary for Registered Nurses was $75,510 per year. In certain states, nurses can make even more. For example, in Connecticut, Registered Nurses make an average of $81,220 annually. Registered Nurses with a Bachelor's in Nursing (BSN) degree have stronger salary potential — about $8,000 more per year, according to research from PayScale.com.
3. Great Job Satisfaction
But being a nurse is more than just a paycheck. As much as it is rewarding financially, it also comes with a great personal prize: You get to make a difference. Most nurses will agree that the greatest part of this career is the ability to help those in need, and the opportunity to change lives forever.
Nurses help patients get through complex injuries. They help patients overcome chronic illnesses, or protect them from disease. Nurses help patients to take hold of their health. They also help families work through very emotional and difficult times. Not many people can say this about their career, but nurses can. Their role is rewarding in that they can connect with patients individually (during some of the hardest times of their lives), and develop treatment plans to help each patient succeed. What is more rewarding than that?
4. Constant Excitement on the Job
Part of the personal reward that comes with nursing, also comes from an RN's day-to-day role. This is not an office job, or even a stare-at-your-computer-for-eight-hours-a-day role. This is an exciting career where no day is the same as the last. Every patient comes with a different story, different symptoms, and different treatment needs. It is the nurse's job to think on their feet, to get creative, and to problem-solve for the benefit of their patients.
Nurses are also on the frontline of change in medicine, which is another exciting component of their work. It is easy for a nurse to get inspired by new technologies, new research, and new treatment methodologies as they come forth. Nurses must always be ready to learn about the latest innovations in medicine, which also allows them to evolve within their role.
5. Various Options and Pursuits
While most people think of hospitals when they think of a nursing career, the options go far beyond this setting. Today, there are many types of nurses — including ER nurses, school nurses, military nurses, prison nurses, travel nurses, and more. Registered Nurses can work in a variety of workplaces, too, such as outpatient clinics, long-term care settings, health insurance companies, rehabilitation facilities, and even in patient homes.
There are also a diversity of specializations that nurses can pursue today. These include oncology, women's health, geriatrics, pediatrics, critical care, even research and population health. Of course, this list of specializations (and potential certifications) goes on.
6. Unparalleled Flexibility
Depending on the specialty you pursue in nursing, your schedule can be quite flexible. Hospital and emergency room nurses, for example, often work three days per week, supplemented by four days off. The three days that they work are longer, 12-hour shifts, but many nurses benefit from the flexibility to take four-day vacations (without actually taking a day off!). School nursing is another career that offers flexible scheduling. School nurses enjoy the same scheduling as students, which often means day-time shifts, weekends and holidays off, as well as summer break.
Flexibility doesn't only pertain to nursing careers, however; it also plays a role in the journey to become a nurse. Today, aspiring nurses can benefit from many flexible degree programs — ranging from the associate to graduate level. Nursing students at Goodwin University, for example, can complete their associate degree in just 20 months part-time. The part-time scheduling allows them to continue working and managing home life, while earning their college degree. Nursing students also benefit from:
- Zero wait lists for enrollment
- Day and evening classes and clinicals
- Applications accepted 3 times per year
- Three academic sessions per year, for faster degree completion
- The ability to earn their Bachelor's in Nursing and Master's in Nursing entirely online
What Makes Nursing a Not-So-Great Career?
While nursing is a great career choice for many individuals, not everyone is right for the job. In order to become a good nurse, you must be compassionate, empathetic, and comfortable working with many different people. You must also be comfortable working on your feet for long hours, and able to healthily manage any emotions and stressors that come with the job.
With a nursing career, it can be emotional. You are working with people who are sick, injured, and disabled. As much as you strive for positive patient outcomes, there will likely be some difficult times and hard-to-see moments on the job. For some, this can be considered a negative aspect of nursing.
This reason, coupled with the fast-paced nature of the job, is why nursing is considered to have an above-average stress level. Other potentially negative aspects of the career to consider, include:
- 12-hour shifts – While nurses often reap the benefit of four days off, the 12-hour stretch of a shift can be very long for some individuals, as nurses are on their feet most of the day.
- Potential exposure to illness – Because you will be working with sick patients, there is always a chance of being exposed to contagions and illnesses. Employers will take measure in ensuring all nurses are up-to-date on vaccines, but it is important to keep in mind this potential risk.
Is Nursing a Good Career for You?
There is a lot to consider when it comes to a nursing career. While there are some potential down-sides of the role, most nurses will tell you that the pros far outweigh the cons. Nurses have the unique ability to connect with people in need and to make a real difference in their lives. And that alone is why so many are attracted to this career.
If you believe nursing is the right career path for you, or are interested in learning more about becoming a nurse, please do not hesitate to reach out. Call Goodwin University at 800-889-3282 or visit us online to learn about our flexible nursing programs — online and in Connecticut.
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.