For caring individuals who desire to help others, becoming a nurse often seems like an excellent career choice. It promises to leave you fulfilled as you contribute to society positively and put smiles on your patients’ faces. However, there’s more to nursing than you see on the surface.
It would help if you examined your reasons for choosing this career path and the benefits of such a decision. You’ll need to understand what being a nurse truly means along with its responsibilities before deciding to join its prestigious ranks.
The requirements for getting a nursing degree vary, but the core component of caring for and nurturing others who need help remains the same.
Anyone can be a nurse, but people who choose nursing should possess certain qualities such as compassion and empathy. They need strong communication skills and can adapt to rapidly changing situations.
Definitions for nursing have evolved and changed over time. The Merriam-Webster dictionary offers the following meaning for the word “nurse.”
“A person who cares for the sick or infirm. Specifically: a licensed healthcare professional who practices independently or is supervised by a physician, surgeon, or dentist. They are also skilled in promoting and maintaining health.”
The word nurse has a formal definition (those with a specific license and degree) and an informal definition (those who help the sick and injured).
Nurses attend to the sick, injured, and disabled, offering the necessary care that helps improve their conditions. These frontline workers are essential members of the healthcare team and help their patients in a variety of ways:
In the beginning, there weren’t many regulations in the nursing practice. A good educational background and knowledge of healthy living were often qualifying attributes to become one.
Today, nurses must complete a certain number of college years, undergo specific training, and pass a competency exam. In addition, nursing has become more respected as a profession over time.
Two key pioneering members of professional nursing are Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton. These women were influential in bringing respect to the profession, contributing significantly to its growth in the 19th century.
Clara Barton was an influential nurse who helped take care of patients during the Civil War. She assisted in founding the American National Red Cross and paved the way for many of the nurses who would come after her. Clara set an example for how nurses can aid in times of crisis and war, demonstrating their valuable role in the medical field.
Florence Nightingale is considered the founder of modern-day nursing. She helped to improve patient outcomes by reforming the sanitary conditions of hospitals. Her work partly started with her contributions during the Crimean War. Florence believed in keeping thorough records, a component that has become a critical part of nursing care.
She was also a strong advocate of nurses receiving proper training and encouraged the organization of the nursing profession. Her work and the contributions of those who came after her helped produce the organized structure we see in nursing today, where nurses have specific roles and undergo thorough training before practicing.
Strictly by the numbers, nursing is a trendy profession in the U.S. and worldwide. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing notes that over 3.8 million registered nurses practice in the U.S. It’s expected that the industry will witness a 9% increase by 2030, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates.
While most nurses are women, the number of male nurses in the field has increased considerably, with men making up about 12% of the nurse workforce.
The nursing field has also grown more diverse. More distinct roles and opportunities have opened up for nurses, allowing for degrees and career choices in highly-specialized areas.
A growing number of nurses are pursuing higher degrees, including bachelors and doctorate degrees.
Multiple factors contribute to why someone chooses nursing as a profession. Let’s look at some of the most common influences that set people on this career path.
Nurses are some of the most selfless and giving people you’ll ever meet, but that doesn’t mean the pay isn’t decent. Consider the data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
In 2021, the average pay for registered nurses was over $77,000 a year. And there’s even more opportunity for wage increases with a higher-level nursing degree. For example, the average pay for Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners was around $123,000 a year in 2021.
Unfortunately, we also live in a world where illness and diseases are still major concerns. While we can develop better treatments and research possible cures for sickness, the need for nurses is not likely to go away any time soon. Most nurses have guaranteed job security, making it a stable and predictable field to pursue.
Nursing offers an abundance of opportunities to specialize and advance your career. You can choose where you work based on your strengths and the healthcare areas that interest you, granting you flexibility and a chance to pursue your passions.
Here are some of the areas where you can specialize as a nurse:
Ultimately, you may try several areas before finding one that works. Still, the possibilities and combinations are almost endless.
Nurses help patients physically by caring for their needs, delivering medications, and ensuring all aspects of a patient’s care run smoothly. You also act as an educator, helping patients understand their care and how they can best participate in their treatment.
However, your assistance goes beyond physical aid. Nurses can bring a touch of humor to the job and comfort in times of emotional distress. You encourage and provide emotional support in difficult moments, help collect data, and assess problems with compassion and empathy.
In nursing, it’s not all about your patients; growing as a person is also a crucial aspect of this profession. Working in the healthcare field teaches you many things about yourself and helps to strengthen your resolve and determination.
Consider the following ways that nursing can help you:
For many nurses, nursing is more than a job that pays their bills and other expenses. It’s who they are, making up a key component of their identity.
Individuals in the field identify it as a calling. It’s essential to weigh your options and evaluate if you have the potential to become a nurse. Many people do, but fewer will act on these high qualities and abilities.
Consider weighing nursing against other options in the healthcare field, as it is a diverse field where you can pursue a career. However, it’s a gratifying profession that allows you to focus on meeting the needs of those who most need your help.
What about you? Will the next nurse be you?
“A nurse is not what you do. It is what you are…. I am a nurse. It’s not what I do, it’s what I am.” ~ unknown
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