According to the 2018 U.S. Department Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing ranks third below law enforcement and accountants as the highest annual median earnings by occupation. In other words, it pays to be a nurse. Another interesting fact is that a 2000 JAMA, or Journal of the American Medical Association, projection showed a shortage of 800,000 nurses by 2020. With so many open registered nurse positions available, the career opportunities are endless.
As modern medicine evolves, more people are living longer and will eventually need healthcare. With the right training, a nurse can land a job in numerous facilities or areas including:
- Hospitals – This is the largest facility in which nurses are employed. In fact, a majority of the staff is nurses, and each one provides bedside care or assists in medical regimens. Nurses employed at the hospital generally work in one designated area such as the emergency room, surgery, pediatrics or intensive care.
- Clinics – Nurses employed in clinics such as a surgical facility or emergency medical center typically care for outpatients. These nurses administer injections, assist in minor surgery, dress wounds and maintain records.
- Public-health – Nurses employed in public health work primarily in schools, retirement communities or government and private agencies. The nurse works to improve the health of the community; in addition, the nurse may plan or implement health programs for the community and can also instruct people on disease prevention, nutrition and other health issues.
- Home-health – These nurses visit and provide periodic healthcare to people living at home. The nurse cares for the patient while instructing the family on proper care. Home-health nurses provide aid to patients recovering from illnesses, accidents or those suffering with cancer.
- Occupational Health – Occupational health nurses provide healthcare at work sites to assist employees or customers. These nurses file accident reports and provide emergency care, health counseling, examinations and inoculations.
- Teaching at Universities or Hospitals – Nurses are hired by universities and hospitals to assist in staff development. In addition, the nurse provides orientation and educates new nurses.
- Nursing Homes – Registered nurses provide care for residents and spend a majority of the time working on administrative tasks. Additionally, RNs work in specialty departments caring for patients suffering from stroke or head trauma. Registered nurses also supervise licensed aides, perform sophisticated procedures and develop treatment plans for patients.
Moreover, head nurses or nurse administrators take on leadership roles, provide training and assign duties. Head nurses also maintain records and observe other nurses in the facility.
Numerous levels of medical practice are available, each with its own educational requirement. Some prerequisites for nursing programs offered for include:
- Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) – The only prerequisite is a high school diploma or GED and some training. After one year, students earn a diploma or certificate. Upon graduating, they are eligible to take the National Council Licensure Exam. Many current practical nurses are enrolling in LVN to RN programs to become registered nurses.
- RN Associate’s Degree (ADN) – It takes approximately two years to complete the Associate Registered Nurse Program; however, it may take up to three years if preparatory courses are required.
- RN Bachelor’s Degree (BSN) – At least 120 credit hours are necessary for the bachelor’s degree, which means an additional two years of education after the ADN.
- Advanced Practice Nurse (APRN) – Uninterrupted, a full-time master’s degree program takes two years to complete. However, it can take even longer if attending school part-time while working in the field.
For an LPN, it only takes one year of training, but it must be completed before advancing in the career. Students have a long list of job opportunities to choose from upon graduating. Graduates can work as pediatric nurses and care for children or deliver babies as a nurse midwife. Other types of nurses include:
- School nurse
- Clinical nurse specialist
- Flight nurse
- Geriatric nurse
- Orthopedic nurse
- Certified RN anesthetist
Depending on the facility, many employers offer added benefits and bonuses. In addition, flexible work schedules and childcare is available. According to the 2018 Bureau of Labor Statistics, RN Salary & LPN Salary is in the median percentile made $31.10 per hour with an annual wage of $64,690. With an increased level of training and experience, RNs in the 90th percentile earned $45.74 an hour and an annual wage of $95,130.
General medical and surgical hospitals offer the highest levels of employment, and median RNs average $68,610 annually. RNs with a doctoral degree earn $74,180 on average when instructing at universities and other professional schools.
A career in nursing offers financial stability and the satisfaction of helping people in need. In only one year, students can achieve a diploma as an LPN and start working in the field. With additional training, students can work in every area of healthcare from pediatrics to education.