Nurses provide the vital services that help our healthcare systems function, and as such, it’s a career that many people are drawn towards.
With a growing population, the demand for healthcare is increasing at a rapid rate, and it’s important there is a steady flow of nurses to fill new positions. This is exacerbated by the fact that there is expected to be a large shortage of primary care physicians in the next few decades and hundreds of thousands of nurses are approaching retirement.
This means there is a big demand for qualified and skilled nurses of all specialities, and there are excellent job prospects that go along with it.
So, what skills and qualification do you need in order to begin your nursing career, and what are your options for progression?
Important Skills for Nursing
Nurses perform a wide range of tasks and are involved in all levels of the healthcare system, so they tend to have a large skill set.
We’ve picked out some of the most common skills good nurses possess:
- Problem solving under pressure
- Empathetic disposition
- Attention to detail
- Interpersonal skills
- Work ethic
- Excellent communication skills
- Ability to remain calm
This might seem like an intimidating set of skills to have to develop, but your training and studies will prepare you for the demands of the job. As long as you’ve got the passion and will to keep improving your skills, then there are many possibilities within this profession.
Not only will these qualities help you in your career, but they’re also great skills to have in life. Nursing gives you a wonderfully well-rounded education to achieve success in all areas.
A common first step in people’s nursing careers is becoming a Registered Nurse (RN), by completing a registered nurse program either as an associate degree or via a bachelor’s degree.
An associate degree generally takes around 2 years to complete, whereas a bachelor’s course is 4-years of full-time studies. Different people will take different options here depending on how fast they want to get into their professional careers, but a bachelor’s degree generally offers a more in-depth study and prepares you to go on to further education.
However, if you want to start out with an associate degree, you can begin your professional career more quickly. There’s always the option of topping up to a bachelor’s degree at a later date.
Some common nursing coursework includes:
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Healthcare law and ethics
- Healthcare policy
- Patient care
- Nursing research
- Intro to professional nursing
These courses are there to prepare students to pass their standardized exams. Passing the exam will allow graduates to apply to register with their state as a registered nurse.
RNs perform vital functions within the healthcare system, providing and coordinating patient care, helping to educate patients on their health and providing emotional support. They will help carry out many tasks associated with the patient’s healthcare plan, including changing dressings, taking blood samples, and preparing patients for medical procedures.
One of the greatest skills of a nurse is being able to communicate in a variety of situations, making patients feel comfortable, and relaying important information to primary care physicians.
There are a number of specializations a registered nurse can go into, offering different challenges and rewards. These specializations include:
- Pediatric nurse
- Critical care nurse
- Oncology nurse
- Clinical nurse manager
- Public health nurse
- Surgical nurse
- Clinical nurse educator
- Nurse informaticist
- Research nurse
With a BSN, registered nurses also have the option to continue their studies and go on to do a master’s or doctorate level degree.
The average salary for a registered nurse in the US can be in the region of $70-$80k a year.
One of the nice things about nursing is that there’s always the opportunity to further your studies and continue developing. Masters of Nursing (MSN) degrees are very common and if you want to go all the way to the highest level of study, you can do a DNP – Doctor of Nursing Practices.
These degrees prepare nurses for management and leadership roles within the healthcare system, developing the future leaders America needs to meet its growing healthcare demands.
There are several different ways you can study for your MSN, with courses offered for BSN to MSN, RN to MSN, and non-nursing bachelor’s degrees to MSN.
At this point it’s possible to really focus in on your specialization and guide your career path in the following areas:
- Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP)
- Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP)
- Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
- Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
- Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
- Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP)
- Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (PACNP)
- Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (PPCNP)
- Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)
- Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP)
DNP degrees prepare nurses to become leading figures in the development of our healthcare systems, with DNPs taking roles in public policy and education among many others.
A DNP is the terminal degree in nursing, but where you go with it is up to you. The skills you learn throughout your nursing education can take you into many different walks of life, helping to improve healthcare practices everywhere you go.
Nursing is a vital profession, that is part of the backbone of modern life. Our ability to train world-class nurses is becoming more and more valued, and it is recognized that how well we train our nurses is going to have a major impact on the future success of our healthcare system.
This means there are lots of opportunities in this rewarding career, and if you choose to, you can take your studies all the way to the doctorate level.
Your professional career will be full of challenges, but these are only equalled by the knowledge that you are doing one of the most rewarding jobs there are. Nursing is a wonderful career to go into, and you have so many different options for the career path you take.