Nursing is a profession that appeals to many people, and it is easy to see why. This is a job that allows you to make a difference and saves lives each day, so you can enjoy great job satisfaction with a career as a nurse. It is not a career for everyone, though, and it is important to be aware of both the benefits and drawbacks of a career in this field. Whether you are pursuing a career as a nurse straight from school or you are considering a second career, these are a few of the main things that you need to consider with a career in nursing.
It Is A Lifestyle
First, it is important to understand that nursing is more a way of life than a career. If you are looking for a job where you can forget all about it once you clock out, then this is not a role for you. Nursing will inevitably impact all areas of your life, and you will often find yourself thinking about work even when you are not on the clock. Nursing is not a role for everyone because it is such a big part of your life, but the benefits outweigh the negatives for many that take great pride in their work and see it as part of their identity.
You Get Great Job Satisfaction
Following this, the main benefit of a career in nursing is that it provides immense job satisfaction. Every single day, you will improve and even save lives, and this is an incredible feeling that is hard to reach in any other line of work. Knowing that you are making a positive difference to the world can make up for the difficult moments and drawbacks of nursing. Those that care about people and want to help others will find nursing to be hugely rewarding, and this can improve your self-esteem and bring many other benefits to your life and overall wellbeing.
There Is Currently A Shortage
Currently, there is a shortage of nurses in the US and many places around the world. The main reasons for this shortage are the aging population, an aging workforce, high turnover, and growth. According to The American Nurses Association (ANA), there will be more registered nurse jobs in 2022 than any other profession in the USA. This shortage means that it should not be too difficult to find work, you can enjoy job security and reap the benefits of plans to make nursing a more attractive career to fill the shortage. This does also mean that the workload can be high for nurses, especially since the start of the pandemic.
It Can Take Its Toll
Nursing is incredibly demanding work, and this can take its toll. The work can be physically and mentally challenging, and you will be working in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment for long hours. You will also be dealing with many things that can upset, shock, and disgust each and every day. This is something that you do get used to over time, but it is certainly a career that is demanding and can take its toll. This is why it is so important to know how to manage stress and make the most out of your time off (more on this to come).
There Are Many Areas To Specialize In
One of the best aspects of nursing is that there are so many different areas to specialize in. Many nurses are happy as registered nurses, while others will want to progress and specialize in different areas, such as critical care nursing or pediatrics. This means that there is always room to progress, develop new skills and earn more money if you wish.
Earning Potential Can Be High
Following on from this, the earning potential is high with a career in nursing. There are many factors that will determine how much you earn, but registered nurses have a median salary of $75,330, with the best-paid 25% earning $93,590. If you specialize and climb the ladder, the earning potential is much higher, with a certified registered nurse anesthetist earning an annual salary of $183,580.
You Can Work Anywhere
Another benefit of a career in nursing is that you can find work anywhere, especially during the current shortage. This means that you should be able to find a suitable position near to where you live if you have a family and want to stay put, but it also means that you can move around if you wish. Many young nurses find work and travel the world, which can be a great way to have incredible life experiences while also building your career at the same time. Additionally, nursing in areas around the world can allow you to develop different skills and knowledge to become a better all-around nurse.
You Need Hard & Soft Skills
You need a wide range of skills and knowledge in order to find success as a nurse. Obviously, hard skills are essential, and you will learn these during your studies. Hard skills will only take you so far, though, as you must also possess many soft skills, and these can actually be harder to develop. As a nurse, you must be an excellent communicator and able to build trust with people quickly. In addition to being a good communicator, you need to be able to solve problems, think critically, and make decisions in high-pressure situations. Not only this, but you must also have excellent time-management skills, be able to work as part of a team, and possess leadership skills. If you have any soft skills that need some work, it is a good idea to develop these with courses, research, and practice.
Shift Work Has Pros & Cons
As a nurse, you will be working shifts, and this can take some getting used to. There are both pros and cons to shift work, but once you get the hang of it and know how to make the most out of your time off, you should find that it provides a good balance, and many prefer it to a regular 9-5 role. The main pros are that you can enjoy multiple days off in a row, you will often have time off when others are at work, so it can be nice and quiet, and you can change your shifts around to suit your needs. In terms of drawbacks, you will find that you have to work long and antisocial hours, and this can make it challenging to look after kids and manage other responsibilities. You may also be off when loved ones are working, and the long shifts can take their toll and interfere with your sleep schedule.
You Can Take A Fast Track Program
Some people are put off by a career in nursing because of the amount of study and training that is required. These days, you can qualify as a registered nurse within two years with a program at an online nursing school in Illinois. This program is a full-time, intensive course that allows those from a non-nursing background to get qualified and find work quickly. The program is online with a short in-person requirement at the campus in Illinois, and it is ideal for anyone seeking a career in nursing, whether you are fresh out of school or looking for a career change.
You Need To Be In Good Shape
As mentioned before, nursing can be a physically demanding role, and this is why it is helpful to be in good shape when you get started. You will spend a lot of time on your feet and rushing around, plus you will find that there is a surprising amount of heavy lifting involved. Being in good shape will help you to manage the physical demands, perform to a high standard, and could prevent exhaustion and injury. The physical nature of the work does mean that you get a good amount of exercise while working, but you will need to make sure that you are able to properly recover and recharge during your time off.
You Learn To Manage Sickness & Death
As a nurse, you will be dealing with sickness, injury, and death every day. No amount of studying will prepare you for this at first, but you need to understand that this will be something that you learn to manage over time. You will get used to seeing and doing things that make your feel queasy, and this can happen quite quickly as you are exposed to these things so much, and it is a key part of the job. In terms of death, this will always be difficult, but you will learn to manage. There will always be patient deaths that stay with you, and this is part of the job, but it does become manageable over time.
It Can Be Hard To Separate Work From Home
Due to the nature of the work, it can be hard to separate work from home. Again, this is something that nurses tend to learn how to do as their career progresses, but at first, it can be hard to switch off when you have been dealing with sickness and death and working in such a high-pressure environment. It helps to have certain activities that help you to switch off and mark the end of a shift, such as taking a shower and getting changed or going for a walk after work.
You Need To Make The Most Out Of Time Off
As mentioned before, it is essential that you are able to make the most out of your time off as a nurse. Time off can fly by if you do not schedule your time off, so you need to get into the habit of using your time management skills for your personal life. This will need to involve rest and getting enough sleep, spending time with loved ones, fun activities and hobbies, chores, and eating a healthy diet. It might feel like there are not enough hours in the day to manage all of this with your time off, but it does become easier over time. Additionally, small things like meal prep, getting friends and family to help with chores, and finding ways to do two things at once can help, such as socializing with friends while you are relaxing at home.
There Is A Strong Nurse Community
As this post makes clear, nursing is a unique role and certainly not one that is for everyone. Due to the nature of the work, you will find that there is a very strong nurse community and colleagues often become friends for life in this field. This is a major perk because you know that you always have people that can support and pick you up during those difficult days. You should try to engage in this community as much as possible for support, career advice, and finding new opportunities. Of course, this also means that you need to be there for your colleagues and other nurses and make yourself available for support if it is needed.
Nursing Is Constantly Changing
Nursing is also a field that is constantly going through change. Trends, challenges, technological developments, and scientific research are just a few factors that are changing nursing and so much so that the way in which nurses performed even just 10 years ago is now very different in many respects. This means that if you embark on a career in nursing, then you need to be prepared for change and be willing to commit to continuous learning and development. This can be a challenge, but it is also interesting and can make the work more rewarding when you are able to provide a higher level of care for your patients.
These are a few of the main things to be aware of with a career in nursing. It is not for everyone, but it can also be one of the most rewarding jobs with many other perks.