Exploring Nursing as a Career: Getting Started

By: Suzan R. Miller-Hoover DNP, RN, CCNS, CCRN-K
Nursing CareerFew careers offer the variety of educational opportunities, employment opportunities and job security as nursing. The nursing profession continues to grow, the workforce is projected to grow by 15% over the next 10 years. However, there is also a large population of nurses in the baby boomer generation who are getting ready to retire from the workforce, making this a great time to become a registered nurse.

Reasons to choose a career in nursing:
  •   You want to make a difference in people’s lives
  •   You want to be able to work anywhere in the nation, the world
  •   You want the opportunity to pursue you goals of becoming:
     o   An advanced practice nurse
     o   A healthcare executive
     o   An educator (hospital-based or in academia)
     o   Choose your own specialty
  •   You want to work in a stable profession
  •   You want to feel respected and needed
  •   You want to make a good income
(Nursejournal.org, 2019)

Selecting a nursing school?
There are a variety of choices when picking a nursing program, the most important is to make sure that the school is accredited by one of the following accreditation agencies:
  •   Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  •   Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  •   Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (CNEA)
(Bestnursingdegree.com, 2019)

Why is this so important?
  •   While schools of nursing can graduate students prepared for the licensing exam without this accreditation, the students may not be able to pursue a higher degree in an accredited school as credits may not transfer to the new program
  •   Students may not be able to get federal funding for school
(Bestnursingdegree.com, 2019)

The school should also hold approvals from the State Board of Nursing where the school located (Bestnursingdegree.com, 2019).

These accreditations and approvals are important to the aspiring nurse as they are an indication that the school has met the rigorous standards which result in an excellent nursing program that ensure the new graduate nurse has the education needed to succeed in the nursing profession (Bestnursingdegree.com, 2019).

Next, you must decide which entry level nursing degree you are going to apply for. There are three common entry levels:
  •   Associate Degree of Nursing (ADN): a two-year degree
     o   Long wait lists to begin these programs
     o   Harder to get an entry level job as many facilities are requiring BSN degrees to meet the requirements of the certifying agencies such as Magnet
     o   Additional education needed to obtain higher degrees
  •   Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN): a four-year degree
     o   Longer time commitment and high costs
        o   The time and cost may not be as high it seems if you consider the cost of the initial ADN program and the additional time and cost to complete the BSN.
     o   Often easier to obtain your first nursing job
  •   Master Entry Nursing Programs (MENP): a three-year degree for students holding a bachelor’s degree in another field
     o   Allows a person wanting a second career to obtain a master’s degree in nursing using the credits they have from a non-nursing bachelor’s degree
  •   Programs are accelerated and academically rigorous
  •   You will be able to sit the NCLEX exam before the program ends, allowing you to work in your chosen field.
     o   Do not quit the program after you obtain your license and before you complete the program
        o   You will not have a degree in nursing
        o   You will have to go back to school to get your degree in an RN to BSN completion program to further you education

The nursing profession continues to grow, yet at the same time an anticipated surge of retiring nurses in the next few years will contribute to the ongoing shortage of registered nurses in the United States. Nursing school is rigorous regardless of the degree you pursue, however becoming a nurse is well-worth the investment of time and money.

Bestnursingdegree.com. (2019). Primary accreditation for nursing schools. Retrieved from: https://www.bestnursingdegree.com/nursing/faq/accredited-nursing-schools/

Nursejournal.org. (2019). 25 reasons to choose a career in nursing. Retrieved from: https://nursejournal.org/community/25-reasons-to-choose-a-career-in-nursing/  

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