Nurses have many different motivations for choosing their career, but the majority say it is their love for working with people and their desire to care for others that makes nursing a great fit. If you want a rewarding career, where every day can bring a different challenge and you have the opportunity to improve patients’ lives, then nursing is a great choice.
As we look deeper into the role of a nurse and into factors affecting the healthcare industry, it is clear that there are many additional reasons to choose a career in nursing, besides caring for others. Continue reading to explore some of the lesser known benefits, and hear what established nurses have to say about their own career choice.
Growing Demand Results in Higher Wages, Job Security, & Job Satisfaction
It’s well known that nursing is one of the fastest growing professions in the United States. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 15% increase in projected employment, which is greater than any other occupation in the healthcare industry. A combination of factors are contributing to these bold estimates:
- Retiree Vacancies: According to supply and demand analyses conducted by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce , approximately 880,000 job openings will be created by 2020 as a result of retirements, and nearly 1.1 million baby-boomer nursing professionals are expected to retire or reduce their volume of clinical work over the next two decades.
- Population Growth: Studies project that the economy will create upwards of 1.6 million job openings for nurses, with an estimated 700,000 newly-created opportunities generated by population growth and a wave of aging baby-boomers who will require elderly care.
- Rural Healthcare Needs: Nurses are increasingly being looked to as a solution to a nationwide shortage of primary care physicians, whose impact is felt most significantly in rural areas where it is difficult to attract qualified MDs. Nurse practitioners, in particular, are expected to fill the void, because of their ability to handle more than 80 percent of the tasks associated with primary care.
With demand expected to be consistently high for the next two decades, it’s natural to expect that nurse employment will follow basic principles of economics – that the price or value of any commodity is driven by the demand and supply for it. In practical terms, this means better outcomes for nurses, as hospitals respond with higher wages and benefits, better work environments, and improved nurse staffing.
Diverse Career Paths, Patient Populations, and Work Environments
It’s difficult to think of a profession so dynamic and diverse as nursing. While most people think of nurses only as the front line healthcare team in hospitals, hospital nursing is far from the only role for nurses. Approximately three out of five nurses work in hospital settings, with the remaining 40% of nurses working in a variety of practice settings, such as, long-term care facilities, ambulatory care centers, community and public health agencies, hospice care facilities, independent practice, and specialty care centers.
The number of job positions a nurse can hold is even more diverse than where they can work. There are approximately 183 different credentials available to practicing nurses. Nurses may work in general practice positions, by becoming a registered nurse (RN) or nurse practitioner (NP), or may qualify for practice in a specialty area by pursuing additional education, experience, and certification. Perhaps the most exciting benefit of a career in nursing is that at any point in your career, you can pursue a change in practice focus, work setting, or location, without starting from scratch. Nursing has something for everyone.
Nursing is a Respected and Trusted Profession
Nurses are a vital part of our nation’s health care system and are counted on to improve the lives of patients every day. It’s no wonder that nurses are consistently ranked as the most honest, ethical, and trusted professionals in the U.S. For the 16th consecutive year, nurses find themselves at the top of the Gallup poll, which ranked health care and non-health care professions based on perceived honesty and ethical standards. Nurses can take great pride in being part of such a respected and trusted profession, and must embrace a consistently honest, ethical, and trustworthy approach to their important work.
Flexible Work Schedules
One of the greatest perks enjoyed by nurses is flexibility – nurses have the ability to choose the type of schedule and setting that fits with their life, without sacrificing job security or pay. Nursing is a round-the-clock profession, which means there are opportunities to work overnight shifts if you are a night owl, or work weekends if having the weekdays free is appealing to you. Nurses typically work in rotating shifts of four, eight, ten, and twelve hours, so you can work two days a month, or seven days a week; you can work at 2pm or 2am; whichever schedule works for you.
Flexible scheduling is also important because it provides nurses with the time to pursue higher education, should they choose to seek an advanced degree or transition into an area of specialization that requires additional certification. Unlike other professions with traditional hours, nurses are able to mold their schedule to fit their life.
If you’re the type of person who loves to visit new cities, explore new cultures, and meet new people, there are thousands of travel nursing positions available in the United States as well as internationally, for registered nurses with the right experience. Depending on the specialty, location, and requirements of the position, a travel nurse may be offered short or long-term assignments, which gives you the freedom to select where you want to work and the type of nursing that you want to practice. There is no standard length for travel nursing assignments, and some jobs may start as a short-term assignment with an option to transition into a permanent, full-time position.
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