Thinking About a Career in Nursing?

By Joe Stein

I would guess that most, already in the profession, would agree that nursing is one of the most challenging career choices a person can make. Earlier in my career, I had the pleasure of plying my Human Resources trade in the healthcare industry and saw first-hand the remarkable work performed by those working in nursing.
 
Despite the challenges, nursing is a career that many aspire to. If you thinking about a career in nursing, these are just a few of the reasons to consider if making the change.
 
·         Rewarding Work – On a daily basis, you positively direct the lives of many individuals.
·         Job Security – Our population continues to age, especially in WNY. The nursing profession will be healthy for the foreseeable future.
·         Strong Demand/Weak Supply – Although the supply of nurses has improved in the last couple of years there still is a significant need for quality nurses. Finding a position, once you are qualified, should not be a problem.
·         Good Pay/Excellent Benefits – Due to the need for nurses, the pay is strong for this area coupled with above average benefit packages.
·         Work Variety – A day in the life of a nurse is never the same. You will probably never hear a nurse complain of the “Groundhog Day” syndrome where everyday seems like the last one.
 
I would be remiss if I did not mention some of the challenges of a career in nursing.
·         Patients – They can be demanding. Most of us are not at our approachable best when we are ill, so your patients may also not have the warmest demeanor. A friendly and understanding personality is a must for a nursing career.
·         Passing Life – If you work in a hospital you will face the inevitability of a passing patient. You will need to be able to work through this challenge.
·         Physical Demands – The job is physically tough. Although most modern hospitals have installed patient hydraulics to help reduce the lifting, it still can be heavy work, often while on your feet.
·         Work Pace – Nurses work hard every day. There is rarely a “slow day at the office”.
 
Nursing Education:
 
·         If you are seeking to attend nursing school, you will need to have your high school diploma or GED. If you are a current high school student reading WNYJOBS and interested in nursing, focus your course study on math and the sciences. You cannot have enough algebra, physics, chemistry, and biology. If you know what nursing school you would like to attend, a suggestion would be to contact them and find out what courses you should focus on.
·         Most nursing schools will require you to pass an entrance exam which will be an aptitude assessment that they hope will predict success in their school.
·         4-Year Bachelor Degree- This degree is the most used entrance into nursing and is offered at most traditional universities.
·         Associates Degree in Nursing – This degree will traditionally take 2-3 years for you to complete if a full-time student. This program is usually offered by community colleges.
 
Nursing Designations:
·         Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) – Does not require a nursing degree, only some study (usually only a year) where a certificate is issued and the passing of the NCLEX-PN, NCLEX standing for the National Council Licensure Examination. Some hospitals and many schools offer programs for a person to receive LPN training. LPN’s do most of the day-to-day basic work of a nurse such as checking blood pressure, giving shots and monitoring conditions. 
·         Registered Nurse (RN) – Requires a person to have their Associates or Bachelors Degree in Nursing along with successful completion of a national exam, the NCLEX-RN.  A RN will do the basic work of a LPN along with more advanced work. A growing trend for RNs is focusing on a specialty such as emergency, hospice, or pediatrics. RNs typically will make $10-$15 more per hour than a LPN.
·         Nurse Practitioner – This position requires a master’s degree in nursing. The certification allows a person to perform some functions of a physician such as diagnosing illness and prescribing medication.
 
In NY, nurses are certified through the NY State Board of Nursing in Albany. For more information, you can go to their website at www.nysed.gov/prof/nurse.htm  
 
There are a number of viable nursing member organizations in which to network, among them are the American Academy of Nursing, the American Assembly for Men in Nursing, American Nurses Association, and the American Nurses Foundation. All will pop up in an internet search if you are interested in more information about these groups. It is recommended by most that you join at least one of the organizations upon receiving your certification.
 
Choosing a career in nursing requires considerable thought prior to making the decision to get started. For those dedicated to joining the profession, a challenging and worthwhile career awaits.
 
As always, best of luck in your job search.