Few careers offer the same advantages as nursing: registered nurses earn high salaries, work with interesting people, and — perhaps most importantly — significantly affect people’s lives, often even saving their lives. With the registered nurse workforce projected to grow by 15% over the next decade, the nursing industry also must grapple with an intensifying work shortage as baby boomers retire. This means that nursing graduates usually do not struggle to find jobs once they graduate. Yet nursing can work as an ideal career for a plethora of other reasons as well. Read on to learn about 25 more reasons to become a nurse.
1. Nurses Make a Real Difference
Nurses — quite literally — save lives every day. They monitor patients, making sure they receive all the care they need. But they also often go above and beyond, with a majority volunteering in their communities to promote public health, as found by a 2017 study published in the Policy, Politics and Nursing Practice journal.
2. Nursing Degree Programs Exist Everywhere
While some academic programs might seem obscure or difficult to find, colleges and universities offer nursing degrees all over the country. Nursing students can find programs in every state, and at least one nursing degree in every metropolitan area. In fact, health professions make up one of the most popular areas of study in higher education, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
3. Nurses Can Pursue their Education Online
On top of that, many higher education institutions offer online nursing degrees. These programs work as great options for people who cannot enroll in traditional degree programs. Students with other demanding responsibilities, like taking care of families or working full time, often opt to pursue distance learning programs.
4. Many Nursing Students Find Financial Aid Opportunities
Individuals who want to pursue nursing but feel nervous about the costs should consider searching for scholarships and other financial aid opportunities. Students can find funding from colleges, universities, nonprofit organizations, companies, and professional organizations. This financial boost can help nursing graduates enter the industry without worrying about debt.
5. Nurses Can Enter the Workforce Relatively Quickly
While some nursing students take a conventional path and earn their BSN in nursing in four years, other nurses decide to earn an associate degree or diploma in nursing. These options typically take 2-3 years to complete. Nursing students can also find accelerated bachelor’s programs in nursing that allow them to finish their degrees in as quickly as two years.
6. The Nursing Profession Boasts a High Level of Job Satisfaction
About 83% of nurses feel satisfied with their choice of nursing as a career, according to a 2017 survey on registered nurses from AMN Healthcare. Additionally, two-thirds of nurses who responded to the survey said they would encourage others to pursue a career in nursing.
7. Nurses Get to Do Exciting Work
For nurses, not one day looks the same. Each day involves meeting different patients with various health concerns, so nurses tackle challenges that change every time they step into work. Often, the workday feels like an adrenaline rush. Indeed, most nurses embrace the challenges that come with the profession, according to the nursing survey from AMN Healthcare.
8. Nurses Receive Respect
Nurses work in a well-respected industry. In fact, nurses rank as the sixth-most respected occupation in the world, according to findings from a 2018 survey from the Varkey Foundation. It seems patients understand the demanding nature of nurses’ jobs, and as such, they appreciate the work nurses do.
9. Nurses can Choose their own Specialty
The medical field includes many different specialties, and nurses need to work in each area. Consequently, nursing students can choose to concentrate in a particular area based on their interests. They might opt to work with infants as midwifes or neonatal nurse practitioners, for instance. Or they could work in gerontology or anesthesiology, among many other options.
10. Nurses Work in a Stable Industry
The nursing industry included about three million registered nurses and three-quarters of a million licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses in the U.S. in 2016, according to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also projects that number of RNs will grow by 15% in the next decade — much faster than average.
11. Nurses Can Advance in their Careers
Nurses can gain promotions through professional development, continuing education, and advanced degrees. Nurses who earn graduate degrees can become nurse practitioners or nurse anesthesiologists, for example. These positions give nurses much more autonomy and lucrative salaries. Nurses can also take on leadership positions and become nurse administrators.
12. Nurses Work with People
Nurses do not spend their entire workday locked away and isolated in an office. They work while surrounded with both colleagues and patients, meeting new people each day. They encounter all sorts of individuals, like newborn babies, teenagers with serious illnesses and unique perspectives on life, and elderly patients with end-of-life wisdom.
13. Nurses Work on a Flexible Schedule
Nurse schedules vary, but nurses typically work 12-hour shifts three days a week. Health care organizations value the alertness and physical well being of their nurses, so they try not to overwork them. This means that nurses often get four days off per week, and they often can swap their work days with a coworker if they need to change their schedules.
14. Nurses Never Stop Learning
For nurses, every new challenge can translate into a learning experience. Nurses learn about people, diseases, cultures, and treatments in their day-to-day work. They can also enroll in continuing education courses, which help them gain deeper knowledge of their profession and become better nurses.
15. Nurses Gain a Competitive Salary
The median salary for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses equaled $45,030 in 2017, according to the BLS. Registered nurses earned a median pay of $70,000 that same year, while nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners earned a median salary of over $110,000. By comparison, the 2017 median household income stood at about $60,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
16. Nurses Can Work in a Variety of Different Environments
Nurses can work in many different settings based on job availability and their interests and specializations. Many nurses work in physician clinics or public hospitals. They also find employment in nursing homes, residential care facilities, ambulatory healthcare services, or even people’s private homes.
17. Nurses May Qualify for Student Loan Forgiveness Plans
Nurses may qualify for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program. The HRSA program may pay up to 85% of student loan debt for nurses who work full time in an eligible critical shortage facility in high-need areas, depending on their financial need.
18. Nurses Work Essential Jobs
Nurses perform vital duties within every healthcare institution. Nurses check on patients, perform tests, respond to emergencies, and administer medications. Nurses often work as the liaison between patients and doctors, relaying important information to doctors. In fact, without nurses, neither doctors nor surgeons could do their jobs.
19. Nurses Often Receive Good Benefits
As with any career, benefits vary based on the place of employment. That said, many nurses receive enviable benefits packages. For example, Army nurses get low- or no-cost insurance packages. Nurses who work for government hospitals or federal organizations, like the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), also receive great insurance packages and retirement benefits.
20. Nurses Can Use their Vital Skills Outside of Work
Emergencies occur all the time, not just at hospitals and clinics. Children choke on water in pools, and people come down with heart attacks or epileptic fits. No matter their location, nurses possess the training to provide First Aid attention to people who need it. They even perform CPR while thousands of feet in the air.
21. Nurses Build Relationships
Relationships make life meaningful, and nurses do not need to worry about living without significant connections. They can bond with nurses and other coworkers about the life-saving work they do every day. They also connect with patients who stay at their facilities long term, in addition to those patients’ families.
22. Nurses Can Switch Jobs Relatively Easily
If nurses need to move to another town or state, they can often do so without the headache of an endless job search. Although all states outline different requirements for nurses, the Nursing License Compact (NLC) lets nurses work in 34 states with one license.
23. Nurses Can Use their Expertise to Begin a New Career
Nurses do not need to stick with a nursing career their entire lives. If they feel the need for change, they possess the knowledge and skills to work in public health, community education, and patient care coordination. They could also return to higher education for a master’s degree or Ph.D. and then switch to nursing administration or education.
24. Nurses Who Work for the U.S. Armed Forces Can Travel the World
The U.S. Army Nurse Corps, active since 1901, recruits nurses to work for the U.S. Armed Forces. The Army offers nurses reserve duty and active duty status. Like any army member, active nurses may find themselves based anywhere in the world. The Army also may pay for nurses’ advanced degrees and outstanding student loans.
25. Nurses Care
Individuals who want a career with integrity need to look no further than nursing. Americans believe that nurses perform the country’s most honest and ethical work — and they have continued to believe this for nearly two decades — according to a 2018 Gallup Poll. About 84% of those polled responded that nurses held high or very high ethical standards.