Throughout history, nursing has represented the very best of the human spirit, demonstrating compassion and a desire to alleviate the suffering of fellow man. Beginning with Florence Nightingale in 1854 saving the lives of British soldiers in the Crimean War through the Civil War, where 20,000 nurses worked tirelessly in primitive hospitals to help suffering patients, to the present, there are now approximately 3.1 million United States nurses working in this great profession helping improve patient lives every day. All these nurses chose the field of nursing as a career for many important reasons. Job security, having a noble, rewarding and challenging career and having the flexibility to work in many settings are only some of the many reasons why a career in nursing may be right for you.
A career in nursing provides a job opportunity which is always in high demand, even in a recession. In addition, as the nursing workforce ages and baby boomers near retirement age, it is estimated that since 62% of nurses are now over the age of 54, 500,000 RN’s will be retiring through 2022. According to economic forecasts, there are more RN jobs (100,000/year) awaiting new graduates than for any other profession. To make up for the expanding population and for those nurses who are retiring, the predicted need is for 1.1 million new registered nurses. According to Nightingale College, as of 2019, the national average wage for a nurse is around $33 per hour which amounts to around $66K per year, but you can earn much more depending on where you live. The highest paid RN jobs are in California with an average yearly salary of $103K. The next highest paid RN jobs are in Hawaii and Massachusetts at $97K and $89K, respectively. The national average for starting salaries is $53K per year, so you can potentially double your salary with time as you gain experience in the field.
Nurses can work in a variety of settings and even from home. RN’s can work as school or college nurses and in clinics or in hospitals. They can also work at research facilities and as travel nurses who work at different hospitals for periods of 13 weeks around the country or throughout the world. A job as a travel nurse comes with many perks such as paid travel and food allowances and fully paid accommodations. Nurses can also specialize in many fields of medicine such as pediatrics, labor and delivery, surgery, ophthalmology and orthopedics. Other opportunities for nurses are in the armed forces where, as a bonus, their student loans can be paid for them. Other nursing job opportunities can be found working in public health clinics, industrial medical clinics and in correctional facilities.
Nurses can make the difference between life and death for patients. They play a critical role acting as a patient advocate and as a conduit between the patient, the patient’s family and the entire healthcare team. Nursing is an emotionally rewarding career that provides extraordinary joy in not only having a job but in caring for patients and their loved ones at the most difficult, desperate and critical times. In nursing, you will meet people you would never have met otherwise, and in addition, you can have a tremendous impact on the health and welfare of the community that you are serving. Nursing truly is a selfless calling and a wonderful opportunity to have a rewarding, challenging and well- paid occupation while playing a critical role in helping patients and their families.
If you are interested in pursuing a nursing degree, there are a number of excellent programs to consider. Some of the best nursing programs in the country can be found at the University of Pennsylvania, New York University, John Hopkins University, Duke University and the University of Michigan Ann-Arbor. Many of these colleges offer online programs that can easily be earned on your own schedule and in the comfort of your home or local library. If you want to start your career sooner rather than later, the University of Michigan’s School of Nursing offers a BSN program that can be completed in just 16 months. New York University offers a 15-month accelerated program. But these are just a few options and opportunities for you to start earning your nursing degree and making a difference.