The health care is a sector that is not only crucial in terms of caring for sick people but also one that is varied in the job roles it contains. This has made it an attractive industry for those looking to forge a successful career in a diverse environment.
One of the most popular niches within healthcare remains nursing, and this can be seen in the fact that the number of registered nurses in the US for 2020 was around 2.98 million. This is, of course, not counting the many thousands of licensed/vocational nurses who work in US health care, as well.
While there are many reasons why people flock to nursing as a career, it does seem that the diverse range of roles it contains is a big draw. There is just no doubt that this is a profession that has expanded greatly in the last few decades and that offers more ways than ever to impact patient care.
But how do you get into nursing, what kinds of roles does it contain, and how do you choose one for you?
How do you get into nursing?
As you would expect, you have to have the right training and the right qualifications to work as a nurse. This is true for any role within the sector; it is an important, serious part of health care.
Of course, the exact qualifications you need to move into the nursing job you desire will vary. One role, for example, might require a bachelor’s degree in nursing, while more advanced roles might ask for master’s level qualifications or a doctorate. This means it is essential to find out what qualifications you need for the role you decide on and then enroll at a university to gain them.
A good tip in this area is looking at online nursing programs, such as those offered by Walsh University. Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and ranked as a top nursing school in Ohio, their online courses are a flexible, convenient way to learn from home. This can be very useful if you are trying to gain new nursing qualifications when already working or want the freedom online study brings.
Before you can decide which course to study and where to study, it pays to find the nursing role you want to move into. But what are some options to consider?
We have previously mentioned registered nurses, and they really do form the backbone of the US health-care system. These qualified nursing professionals carry out a range of key daily tasks and provide front-line care to patients. Common tasks in this role include monitoring patients, assessing their condition and implementing patient care plans. RNs can work in a variety of health-care facilities, from hospitals to clinics, nursing homes and local community health-care settings.
But what is it about this role specifically that makes it such a hit? The average salary for US registered nurses helps at $68,950 and the high demand for these professionals makes finding a job once qualified fairly easy. As these kinds of nurses will always be needed, it is also a secure role to move into and one that enables you to have a direct impact on patient care.
Family nurse practitioner
Another in-demand nursing role is family nurse practitioner, and this makes it a position within nursing to which many aspire. Along with superb earning potential, this is a more senior role within health care. This makes it ideal if you enjoy taking on more of a leadership role and all the responsibility this offers. FNP positions also usually come with flexible work settings and enable you to take up interesting positions all over the health-care system.
As a more advanced nursing role, you would need usually need a degree, like a Doctor of Nursing Practice qualification in family nursing to enter this position. In simple terms, these kinds of nurses focus on the health of the whole person and look at not only promoting better fitness but also preventing disease.
Typical tasks people in this job carry out include ordering tests, performing physical examinations, prescription of medication and drawing up plans to treat patients. With the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting a 46% increase in nurse practitioner roles by 2031, this is clearly a type of job within nursing that is growing.
Although there are lots of jobs within nursing that concentrate on direct patient care, it is also worth showing a few that don’t. This is helpful because it shows the depth within the sector and also highlights how you can work in nursing, even if you do not fancy caring for patients on the front line.
One great example is nurse educator. As the name implies, this position involves passing your knowledge onto the next generation of nurses and preparing them for work. This is a great job to consider if you do not enjoy direct patient care but do love teaching what you know to others.
It also comes with attractive salary levels on the whole and has plenty of scope for career progression. While you might start out as a tutor, for example, you could eventually move into being in charge of the whole course or entire department.
As you would expect, people in this job work in educational settings, such as universities, colleges and even teaching in hospitals. To move into this nursing position, you would usually need to be a registered nurse and also hold a master’s or doctoral degree.
Although it may seem that front-line nursing roles get a lot of attention, everyone secretly knows how valuable nurse administrators are, as well. No health-care facility could run smoothly without them, after all, or could offer an excellent level of care to patients without nurse administrators. High-level roles in this niche, such as nurse manager or chief nurse executive, will have you use your leadership skills to positively impact patient experiences.
It is also a position in this industry that comes with some appealing benefits. According to PayScale, for example, people in nurse administrator jobs earn $89,527 on average, and this makes it a well-paid opportunity. These expert nursing professionals are also sought after by health-care facilities across the US, who need them to provide sensible, robust leadership.
Common tasks for people in this job include working at an executive level to plan, outline and direct patient care in their facility. As the senior nature of the role and high earning potential illustrates, this is a position that requires advanced qualifications.
How do you choose a nursing role that suits you best?
Although we have looked at a few different nursing roles you could work toward, you first need to settle on one that suits you best. This is key because it means you will end up working in a job that you enjoy and that brings the best out of you. But how do choose which role is most suitable?
It is usually best to start with whether you enjoy working in front-line patient care or prefer a nursing role that does not include this. If you enjoy talking to patients, for example, it only makes sense to look at front-line roles, such as registered nurses, which make it possible. In addition to this, it is wise to look at what qualifications you need for any role and think about how feasible it is for you to study for them. Do you have the time right now, for example, and will you enjoy the specific course you need to complete?
It can also be worth thinking about which age range you might enjoy working with best when choosing a nursing role. People who love helping children, for example, may well feel drawn to a pediatric nursing position, while those who enjoy caring for older people might find it satisfying to move into a specialized gerontology nursing job. This can see you handling variety of common issues seniors experience.
How else do you choose the most suitable nursing role?
Of course, it also pays to think about the practicalities when it comes to finding the most suitable nursing role. We have previously discussed salaries above in a few of the jobs listed, and this is worth considering further. It is not really worth working in a nursing job that does not pay enough to cover your bills, after all!
In addition, you should look at what the job involves in greater detail. This can help you see what daily tasks you might have to undertake and allow you to think about how enjoyable you would find them. It can also enable you to think about whether you can manage the role on a physical or mental level. Someone who cannot physically lift patients, for example, may wisely decide to look for a non-front-line nursing role.
Nursing sector offers many choices
When you really dig into it deeper, it becomes clear that nursing is an industry with plenty of choice in terms of roles. The ones we have looked at are just the tip of the iceberg, and there are many others out there to investigate. This is well worth doing because it means you can find one that is suitable for you and that you will enjoy moving into.