Working in healthcare takes a special kind of patience and attention to detail that is unsurpassed by any other career. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) considers nursing to be a career with a much faster than average job growth outlook over the next decade. There are different levels of education requirements in the nursing field so if this is a field that interests you then you’ll have to decide what path you want to take and what kind of investment you’re willing to make. If you’re going back to school for nursing after earning a degree with a different emphasis then your path may be a little different again. There are a lot of variables that can come into play when considering how to attain your goals.
Find a program that fits your goals.
There are three different education paths that you can take to become a registered nurse. A bachelor’s degree in nursing, an associate’s degree in nursing, or a diploma from an approved nursing program are all viable paths to becoming a nurse. More hospitals are beginning require a bachelors degree. There are also some accelerated options for those who already possess a bachelors in another subject and wish to go back to school for their BA in nursing. Texas Tech, for example, offers a second degree in nursing that can be completed in 12 months. All of these paths also require licensure which differs by state.
Figure out the pre requisites for the program you are interested in and complete them.
While most programs have the same basic requirements, some of the requirements for entry may differ depending on your institution. Usually the requirements include several science courses such as microbiology, chemistry, and anatomy. Some programs will require that you complete these courses before entry into the program is granted while some will include the courses in your studies.
Spend time in the healthcare environment.
It’s difficult to understand what all a career in healthcare entails until you spend time doing the job or talking to people who do. One option, though usually not required, is to complete a certified nurse assistant (CNA) course and find employment in a healthcare facility. This can provide you with an opportunity to interact with patients and decide if this field is right for you.
Pick a specialty.
Most undergraduate programs for nursing are generalist programs and few entry level nursing jobs will require a specialty. Some positions, like nurse anesthetist, require more experience, school, and training.
Decide where you want to take the career.
There are many options for nurses to further their education. Nurse practitioners usually work under a doctor but have a lot of independence in the way they practice. This path usually takes a few years of experience and a master’s degree in nurse practitioner. Many people interested in working in education or research go on to pursue a PhD in nursing. Those interested in clinical practice or leadership may obtain a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).
Nurses will continue to be in high demand for the foreseeable future. If you’re willing to have some flexibility in field or location then you will be able to take the career a long way. If you wish for a fulfilling and stable job that allows you to help people and make a great living while doing it then nursing may be a good choice for you. The path to becoming a nurse may seem arduous, and if you pursue this path there will be challenges along the way. I leave you with this quote by the mother of modern nursing Florence Nightingale, “So never lose an opportunity of urging a practical beginning, however small, for it is wonderful how often in such matters the mustard-seed germinates and roots itself”.