Before you decide to become a nurse and embark on the rigorous process of becoming one, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of a career in nursing.
Nursing is one of the most flexible and versatile professions in the world. Those who genuinely love to interact with other people can choose various nursing that allow for it, such as ambulatory care nursing, while those who would rather have limited interaction with patients can choose perioperative nursing. There are many different types of nursing, and it’s not impossible to find one nursing career path for almost everyone. However, the truth is that nursing is not for everyone – it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. It is as challenging as it is fulfilling. The process of becoming a nurse takes a lot of time, effort, patience and money, so it is important to weigh the pros and cons to determine if you will be a good fit for this occupation.
Registered Nurse Job Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the demand for registered nurses will grow by 19 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is faster than the average for all occupations. One reason for the increased demand is due to the aging baby boomers that are living longer, more active lives, and will typically need more medical attention in the coming years. Another reason for the projected growth is that more nurses will be needed to educate and provide preventive care for those with chronic conditions such as arthritis and diabetes. Additionally, technological advances are allowing for more procedures, which were previously only done in hospitals, to be done in ambulatory care settings and physician’s offices. Outpatient care centers will also see more demand for nurses to provide care for patients who do not stay overnight.
Registered Nurse Salary
One of the advantages of being a registered nurse is the salary that they can command. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the median annual wage earned by registered nurses in May 2012 was $65,470. The median annual earnings of registered nurses for the top five industries in which they worked are as follows:
- Government: $68,540
- Hospitals; state, local, and private: $67,210
- Home health care services: $62,090
- Nursing and residential care facilities: $58,830
- Physicians’ offices: $58,420
In addition to the salary, registered nurses get a variety of benefits. Most hospitals and other agencies offer sick leave, paid holidays, vacation time, shift deferential, health insurance benefits, and more. Other additional benefits can include day care facilities, and tuition reimbursement.
Flexibility of Nursing Careers
Aside from the great demand for nurses, one of the best things about the profession is the numerous nursing career paths to choose from, such as pediatric nursing, geriatric nursing, critical care nursing, cardiac nursing, forensic nursing, legal nursing, and more. There are job opportunities in various settings aside from hospitals, including in nursing and residential care facilities, home health care services, physicians’ offices, schools, community centers, and even the government. Some nurses choose to travel throughout the world to help patients in places in need of medical workers.
Advancement opportunities abound, especially for registered nurses with BSN degrees.
Work Environment for Registered Nurses
One of the disadvantages of being a registered nurse is the fact that they come into close contact with people who have infectious diseases, which is why the first few years of working as a nurse in a hospital can mean more illnesses for the RN than usual. Registered nurses also come into contact with potentially harmful and hazardous drugs and other substances so it’s of the utmost importance for these professionals to follow strict, standardized guidelines to prevent dangers such as radiation, accidental needle sticks or exposure to chemicals. Nurses also spend most of their day standing, walking, and bending, as well as lifting and moving patients, making them vulnerable to back injuries.
Most nurses work 12-hour shifts, and since caring for patients is a must round-the-clock, they work nights, weekends and holidays, and have on-call days off. This is especially true for registered nurses who are employed in hospitals or other institutions that provide 24/7 patient care.
Emotional Highs and Lows
One of the greatest advantages of working as a registered nurse is the ability to help others who are in need. Many nurses, especially those who care for the same patients for an extended amount of time, become attached to their patients and form a special bond with them as they provide patients with medical care. Seeing patients remain courageous in the face of their injuries or illnesses can be very uplifting. However, watching as those very same patients succumb to their wounds and diseases can take a toll on nurses.