Last Updated on May 11, 2023 by Lily Connel
A nursing career has numerous advantages, including high demand, job stability, competitive salary, growth opportunities, and the ability to make a difference. However, there are also downsides to consider, such as physical and emotional demands, long and irregular hours, exposure to hazardous substances and infectious diseases, and high levels of stress and burnout.
Overview of the nursing profession
Nursing is a profession that focuses on the care of individuals, families, and communities. Nurses play a significant role in improving and saving lives, making it a very rewarding career path. With the growing demand for healthcare services, registered nurses, especially those with a BSN, are in high demand across the country.
Additionally, nursing offers flexibility in terms of work schedules and many opportunities for specialty areas, such as forensic nursing and travel nursing. Nurses are highly respected, ranked #1 in honesty and ethical standards, according to an annual survey. However, becoming a nurse requires extensive education and training, and can be expensive.
Nurses with less job seniority may also have to work undesirable hours, such as nights, weekends, and holidays. Furthermore, the physical demands of the job, such as spending long hours on one’s feet and lifting patients, can cause foot problems and back injuries. Despite the challenges, many find the rewards of being a nurse to be worth the effort and commitment.
Pros of a Nursing Career
A career in nursing is an excellent choice for those who want to make a difference in people’s lives and have a passion for healthcare. There are many benefits to pursuing a nursing career, including:
- High Demand: There is a growing demand for nurses, and this trend is expected to continue. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 9% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.
- Job Stability and Security: Nursing is a stable and secure profession, with high job security. As long as people need healthcare, there will be a need for nurses.
- Competitive Salary and Benefits: Nurses enjoy competitive salaries and benefits. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for registered nurses was $75,330 in May 2020. Many nurses also receive benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off.
- Opportunities for Growth and Advancement: Nursing offers a wide range of opportunities for growth and advancement. Nurses can specialize in different areas such as pediatrics, oncology, or critical care. They can also advance their education and become nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, or nurse educators.
- Flexibility in Scheduling: Nurses can work full-time, part-time, or per diem. They can also choose to work day or night shifts, depending on their preference and availability. This flexibility makes it easier for nurses to balance their work and personal lives.
- Ability to Make a Difference: Nurses have the ability to make a significant impact on patients’ lives. They provide care, comfort, and support to patients and their families during some of the most challenging times of their lives. This sense of fulfillment and purpose is one of the most rewarding aspects of nursing.
Cons of a Nursing Career
While there are many benefits to pursuing a nursing career, there are also some downsides to consider. Here are some of the cons of a nursing career:
- Physically and Emotionally Demanding: Nursing can be physically and emotionally demanding, with long hours on your feet and exposure to stressful situations. Nurses must have the physical stamina to perform their duties and the emotional resilience to handle the emotional toll of caring for patients.
- Long and Irregular Working Hours: Nurses often work long and irregular hours, including weekends and holidays. This can make it challenging to balance work and personal life and can lead to burnout.
- Exposure to Hazardous Substances and Infectious Diseases: Nurses are exposed to various hazardous substances, such as chemotherapy drugs and radiation, and infectious diseases such as COVID-19, hepatitis, and tuberculosis. This exposure can put them at risk for health problems.
- High Levels of Stress and Burnout: Nursing can be a high-stress profession, with nurses dealing with life-and-death situations and emotional patient and family interactions. This stress can lead to burnout, which can negatively impact their health and job performance.
- Challenging Work Environment: Nursing can be a challenging work environment, with nurses dealing with high patient volumes, complex medical conditions, and limited resources. This can make it difficult to provide the best possible care to patients.
- Risk of Workplace Violence: Nurses are at risk for workplace violence, including physical assault and verbal abuse. This risk is particularly high in emergency departments, psychiatric units, and long-term care facilities.
Career Options in Nursing
A career in nursing offers a wide range of job opportunities in various healthcare settings. Here are some of the career options available in nursing:
- Registered Nurse (RN): RNs provide direct patient care, including administering medication, performing diagnostic tests, and collaborating with other healthcare professionals. They can work in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and other healthcare settings.
- Nurse Practitioner (NP): NPs are advanced practice registered nurses who can diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret diagnostic tests, and prescribe medication. They can specialize in areas such as family medicine, pediatrics, or geriatrics.
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA): CRNAs administer anesthesia and monitor patients during surgical procedures. They work in hospitals, surgical centers, and other healthcare settings.
- Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS): CNSs provide expert clinical guidance and support to other healthcare professionals. They can specialize in areas such as oncology, critical care, or neonatal care.
- Nurse Educator: Nurse educators teach and train aspiring nurses and current healthcare professionals. They can work in academic institutions, hospitals, and other healthcare settings.
- Nurse Researcher: Nurse researchers conduct research studies to improve patient care and outcomes. They can work in academic institutions, hospitals, and research organizations.
- Travel Nurse: Travel nurses work on short-term assignments in various healthcare settings across the country. They provide temporary staffing support and gain valuable experience in different healthcare environments.
- Home Health Nurse: Home health nurses provide care to patients in their homes, including administering medication, performing wound care, and educating patients and families on self-care.
- Hospice Nurse: Hospice nurses provide end-of-life care to patients and their families, including symptom management and emotional support.
Skills and Qualities Needed for a Nursing Career
Nursing is a rewarding but demanding profession that requires a combination of technical and soft skills. Here are some of the essential skills and qualities needed for a nursing career:
- Clinical Skills: Nurses need to have strong clinical skills to perform their duties, including administering medication, performing diagnostic tests, and providing patient care.
- Critical Thinking: Nurses need to be able to think critically and make sound decisions based on patient data and medical knowledge. They must be able to assess patient conditions, interpret diagnostic results, and make informed decisions about patient care.
- Communication Skills: Nurses need to have excellent communication skills to work effectively with patients, families, and healthcare professionals. They must be able to explain medical conditions and treatments to patients and families and collaborate with other healthcare professionals.
- Empathy and Compassion: Nurses need to have a strong sense of empathy and compassion for their patients. They must be able to connect with patients and understand their needs and concerns.
- Attention to Detail: Nurses need to have excellent attention to detail to ensure that they provide accurate and appropriate care to patients. They must be able to follow protocols and procedures accurately and pay attention to the smallest details.
- Adaptability and Flexibility: Nursing is a dynamic profession that requires nurses to be adaptable and flexible. They must be able to work in fast-paced environments and handle unexpected situations.
- Emotional Resilience: Nursing can be emotionally challenging, and nurses must have the emotional resilience to handle the stress of caring for patients. They must be able to manage their emotions and handle the emotional needs of their patients and families.
- Ethics and Professionalism: Nurses must adhere to ethical and professional standards of practice. They must act with integrity and respect patient confidentiality.
In conclusion, nursing is a career that offers both advantages and challenges. The demand for nurses is high, resulting in steady employment and competitive pay. Nurses have the opportunity to specialize and advance their careers, which can lead to higher salaries and more autonomy. However, nursing can also be physically demanding, emotionally taxing, and lead to burnout.