For many people, choosing one career path can be a difficult task. It can be overwhelming to pick one career path that will allow you to fulfill your goals, passions, and dreams. Once you do narrow down your options, it’s wise to investigate a little further and ensure it doesn’t just speak to you on a professional level, but also a personal level.
If you’ve gone through the process of self-reflection and are now considering a career as a registered nurse (RN) there are some important things to be aware of. By educating yourself on all that the career involves, you’ll be sure to make a wise decision for your future.
It Will Require Higher Education
The first thing to be aware of is the fact that you’ll need to pursue higher education so you can get your Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Besides completing this program, you’ll also need to be licensed before you can start working.
Look Into the Benefits of an Online BSN Program
While the traditional nursing program may require you to be on campus for all your courses, times have changed and, thanks to technology, BSN students now have an online option. The accelerated BSN programs through Baylor University feature a combination of online learning, clinical in the field, and a two-week on-campus element. Online programs are ideal for students who require more flexibility in terms of scheduling and even location.
In the case of an accelerated program, you can complete it in a shorter amount of time, thereby helping you to enter the workforce that much sooner. This is another advantage that online programs offer students.
What Is the Overall Job Outlook?
You never want to choose a career path that is on the decline with little to no positions open. The good news is that registered nurses are in demand and the jobs are expected to grow by 9% from 2020-2030. This is in line with the average national job growth. It should be noted that some states may be growing at a faster rate than others, so you may want to eye them as a potential place to put down roots.
There is also a trend that is starting to develop in nursing due to the aging population of Baby Boomers. As they continue to age, more stress and demand is being put on long-term care facilities and home healthcare. This aging demographic is also putting more demand on health care facilities that specialize in Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and long-term rehabilitation. These could be interesting paths for new RNs to explore.
How Much Do RNs Make?
It’s also normal to be curious about what you can make as an RN. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics published a median salary of $75,330 in 2020, which differed by industry. The top-paying industry for RNs was the government in 2020 at $84,490 and the lowest paying industry was educational services at $64,630.
It Can Be an Exhausting Lifestyle
Being honest about what the job entails is important, as it will help you to make an informed decision. And the truth is that being an RN can be mentally and physically draining. It comes with the territory. This is why it takes the right people in the job that can handle and even flourish in this kind of environment.
Depending on where you work, it can be highly likely that you will work shifts. Shifts can be during the day, nights, or weekends, which can have an impact on your lifestyle and relationships. For some people, this will be easy to adapt to, whereas others may have a harder time. If shift work isn’t something you want to contend with, then you’re best to focus on jobs in education, government, or even an office setting.
Then there is the mental toll nursing can take. You will be around people who are sick, suffering, and in pain. That can be a lot to endure. Even the most experienced nurse will find it hard to witness people who are suffering. It will be important for you to have a strong emotional support system at home, and also recognize when a little extra help could be needed, such as speaking to a therapist. You don’t want to create emotional baggage.
Becoming an RN Can be a Stepping Stone
Even though the idea of becoming an RN may be exciting, it’s important to note that it doesn’t have to be the final step in your career. For some, the job of an RN is simply a stepping stone and they go on to further their education and training so they can move into a more advanced or leadership role eventually.
What Traits Make for a Great RN?
While your schooling will be important in preparing you for your career as a registered nurse, some traits can help you to excel in your job. Some of these may come naturally to you, whereas others you can work on perfecting.
Some of the traits that make for a great RN include:
- You are a calming presence and can keep your cool in emergencies
- You can show empathy to others
- You have excellent communication skills (listening, speaking, and writing)
- You are versatile and flexible and can quickly change directions
- You are excellent a multi-tasking
- You have superb organizational skills
- You show respect to all
- You have refined critical thinking skills that you can quickly draw on
- You can show discreetness when necessary
- You have an energetic personality
- You have a desire to help others
- You have no problem speaking up for yourself and your patients
Don’t worry if you don’t have all of these skills right out of the gate; again, some can be learned and perfected over time. You just need to be willing to learn and grow.
So, is a career as an RN ideal for you? That’s a personal decision, but by factoring in all the information, you may just decide it’s the best path for you.