According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nursing profession is growing at a rapid rate. Growth for registered nurses is projected at 19 percent, which is must faster than the average growth for other professions. This growth will result in approximately more than a half million new nursing openings by the year 2022. Read on to learn more about the growth in this field, as well as how to become a registered nurse and what to expect from the profession.
The Need for Nurses
The primary growth in this field will be driven by the large aging baby boomer population. This group is living longer than ever and will continue to need health care well into their eighties and nineties. As more Americans develop chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes, nurses will be increasingly important to manage their care, particularly as hospitals and insurance companies are under pressure to keep health care affordable for all Americans. Many more nurses will be needed in long-term care facilities, outpatient care centers, and home healthcare.
Becoming a Registered Nurse
This is an exciting career field not only because of the growth involved, but because it garners a relatively high salary with just an associate’s degree. To become a registered nurse, the first step is to earn either a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing (BSN), an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN), or a diploma from an approved nursing program at a hospital or health system. These programs include both classroom and clinical instruction. Once you’ve earned your degree, you must take the state board exam to become licensed in the state where you plan to practice. Nurses must also complete continuing education credits to maintain licensure. You can go on to specialize by earning advanced degrees in the nursing field.
The Life of a Registered Nurse
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurses earn an average annual salary of approximately $65,470. Salaries are highest for those working in government, followed by hospitals, home health care, nursing homes, and doctor’s offices. Many employers offer flexible and part time schedules, making this an ideal career if you plan to raise a family or continue your education. However, evening, weekend and holiday shifts are often required, particularly for nurses who are new to the profession. If you’re interested in becoming a nurse, you should hone your critical thinking and decision making skills. Compassion and the desire to help others are also essential, as are great communication skills as you’ll be charged with educating patients and their families.
If you want a career that is growing with lots of room for advancement, consider the nursing profession. If you’re still in high school, focus on excelling in your science courses, as many nursing programs have competitive admission even at the community college level. If you’re returning to college as an adult, prerequisites may be required before entering the nursing curriculum.