A Guide to Embarking on a Career in Nursing

Despite involving a lot of hard work and some stressful and emotional moments, nursing can be a hugely satisfying career choice that makes you proud to come to work every day.  With the US looking to invest greatly in healthcare, there has perhaps never been a better time to shake up your career and retrain in the nursing profession. If this is something that you think you would like to do but are either slightly apprehensive about making the leap or unsure how exactly to go about here, read on for a guide to embarking on a career in nursing. Know the life saving techniques by getting the online class and training materials at United Medical Education.

Why now is the best time to retrain as a nurse

Firstly, let us consider why exactly now is the best time to retrain as a nurse. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated in stark reality the importance of the healthcare system and healthcare professionals in looking after the health of the nation. Unfortunately, the continuing pandemic has also shown a gap between the numbers of healthcare professionals, such as nurses, and the need for them. This nursing shortage looks set to continue due to a large number of registered nurses anticipated to enter retirement by 2022 and the and the aging baby boomer generation requiring more and more healthcare. Due to this, it’s estimated that by 2022 there will be an average of 100,000 registered nursing jobs available per year; if you want a stable job in which you will never be out of work, nursing is the career path for you.

First steps

There are several paths you can take in becoming a nurse and several specializations you can go into. If you are undecided exactly which nursing path you want to take, a good place to start might be a position as a certified nursing assistant (CNA). A CNA works in hospitals and residential care facilities to help patients carry out their daily activities. For instance, turning or repositioning bedbound patients, helping patients to clean themselves, and assisting with meal times. A CNA also assists registered nurses and doctors in the day-to-day running of the facility, carrying out tasks such as cleaning rooms and bed linens, changing dressings, and recording vital signs. To become a CNA, you will need a state-approved certificate obtained through training programs normally lasting between 4 to 12 weeks. Due to this relatively short qualification period, a post as a CNA might be a good way to see if a nursing career is for you while gaining vital ward experience.

Associate’s Degree in Nursing of Bachelor of Science in Nursing

The next step in your healthcare career, which will give you more responsibility for treating patients while still working under a doctor’s guidance, is to become a registered nurse (RN). An RN role can be incredibly varied, depending on where you work. As well as providing care on a hospital ward, you can, amongst other things, treat children in a pediatric unit, provide care in a nursing home, and become a school nurse. To become an RN, you must earn state licensure, and this can be done after obtaining either an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). An ADN program can be completed in as short a time as 12 to 24 months and focuses on providing top-quality patient care rather than the additional modules on management and public health concerns that would usually be included in a BSN. However, as the National Academy of Medicine is pushing for BSN licensure for all RNs by 2030, with the state of New York already requiring ADN qualified RNs to obtain a BSN within ten years of their initial degree, it might be prudent to go straight to studying a BSN.

Obtaining state licensure

After being awarded your degree in nursing, you can then take the final step in becoming a registered nurse – pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) to earn state licensure. However, this will only allow you to work as a nurse in that particular state. If you are planning on moving to another state, you will have to regain state licensure; an option might be to obtain a Nurse Licensure Compact, which will enable you to work in other member states without having to get a new license. You will have to renew your license every couple of years to ensure that nursing care is kept at a high standard for patients at healthcare facilities throughout the USA. This can be done by ensuring that you complete a set amount of continuing education hours.

Specialize with a Master of Science in Nursing

After a few years’ ward experience as an RN, you might decide that you would like to further your career and specialize in a particular branch of nursing. You might, for instance, want to care for elderly patients and their particular age-related conditions, or alternatively want to nurse people throughout their life cycle. A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) will give you the qualification to specialize in a particular branch of medicine, and there are often MSN programs available specifically for that specialization. For instance, an MSN-FNP program will prepare you to be a family nurse practitioner, a branch of nursing that sees you working with patients across the generations and building relationships and healthcare education with families. You might decide further down the line that you want to leave the field of active nursing and instead enter a more managerial, bureaucratic role, using your extensive experience working with patients to build new, beneficial healthcare policies for your community.

Choosing to Become a Nurse

So there you have it: a short guide to embarking on a career in nursing. There is no doubt about it that nursing is, at times, highly stressful and emotional, and you will have to make sure you look after your own mental and physical health. However, it is also a highly respected vocation that will provide you with a great deal of pride and fulfillment.