Have you ever thought about what it would be like to be a nurse? Perhaps you are disenchanted with the work you are now doing or perhaps you are thinking about what kind of career you would like to pursue. In either case, if the thought of studying to become a nurse has crossed your mind, there are a few things you will need to know. It all starts with a realistic assessment of what nursing means to you and if this is something you are prepared to do.
1. Nursing Is a Vocation
Even though this is the number one great reason to study to be a nurse in 2022, it is probably important to say that nursing shouldn’t simply be a career. As any lifelong nurse can tell you, nursing goes beyond a profession or a career. Nursing is a vocation. It is a calling which is laden with challenges literally every day you are on the job. Your response to those challenges may mean the difference between life and death for that patient sitting in front of you.
Armed with this understanding, you can see why nurses follow a calling. Yes, the pay can be very good, depending on the level of nursing you are qualified for and the places where you could be employed. However, when you fully comprehend the importance of who you are and what you do, what you bring home isn’t as important as knowing you can be part of that which gives your patients the ability to even go home. Sometimes you will hear nursing defined as a ‘rewarding career,’ but in reality, it is a vocation.
2. Filling a Universal Void in Healthcare
For several years now, it has been quite clear that there is a universal shortage of healthcare workers in literally every nation around the globe. However, the pandemic exacerbated that shortage exponentially and now the shortage has gone from severe to crisis level. Although a great number of nurses left due to refusing to get vaccinated, that isn’t the only thing that drove the shortage up.
Some nurses got sick during the pandemic, and sadly, some healthcare workers succumbed to the illness. Others left because of burnout and as if that wasn’t bad enough, still others left to care for family members who are suffering long covid. The point is that healthcare has been suffering from a shortage of professionals all across the board. What started as a shortage of doctors soon led to shortages in other necessary positions as well. Covid wasn’t the ultimate cause, but it sure didn’t help either. Another great reason to study to be a nurse in 2022 is due to this crisis level shortage.
3. Work within Preferred Areas of Specialization
When it comes to choosing a career that is a vocation, nursing is among the very best because you can choose your area of specialization. If you want to work with children, there is always a call for pediatric nurses. Maybe you have had someone close to you lose the battle against cancer and so your calling is to work in hospice. You can choose to specialize in any area that interests you so whether you want to work in oncology, pediatrics, gerontology or primary care, it is up to you. There is a lack of nurses in every specialty out there, even for surgical nurses and graduate level nurse anesthetists.
It is interesting as well that there are universities answering the call to help alleviate the shortage of nurses with Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs. These are fairly intensive if they are to be finished in just two years, but schools like Elmhurst University will accept your previous bachelor’s degree and then fit a two-year course of study to your needs. Again, these are extensive programs designed to give you an in-depth intellectual as well as practical background in nursing. Whether it’s for a second career to be used concurrent to the profession you already have or a second and ‘new’ career to replace one you are dissatisfied with, you will have the tools you need to launch you into a rewarding vocation which is so much in need.
4. Placement Opportunities
Once you have decided on a specialization, you can move onto the setting in which you’d like to be employed. For example, a registered nurse with a specialization in pediatrics could work in a private pediatric office, a community hospital on the pediatrics floor, a children’s hospital, a public health department and even as a pediatric home health care nurse or telehealth nurse. Placement options can also be as rewarding as the career itself.
Other options would be employment opportunities at:
- Nursing homes
- Rehabilitation centers
- Palliative care facilities
- Psychiatry units
- Correctional institutions
- Law Firms
- Birthing centers
- Traveling Nurses
- Emergency or Urgent Care
And the list goes on. Those are just some of the most common placement opportunities available to RNs. While many of those opportunities require a specialization, some simply advertise for RNs.
There is one other placement opportunity which hasn’t been mentioned yet and this one probably deserves a category all its own. Within pediatrics there is even a further specialization as a neonatal nurse. Many large hospitals have a neonatal unit with RNs who have advanced training in such things as intubation for preemies. Then there are teams of transport nurses who go along with the EMTs when transporting neonatal patients between hospitals or perhaps to the hospital if the baby was born en route. This is a particularly rewarding placement when those tiny little people turn a corner and sometimes against all odds, win the battle and survive.
5. Clinical, Administration and Education Possibilities
Another choice a nurse must make is whether they will want to work in a clinical setting, administration or education. Many of the clinical choices have been mentioned above, so let’s take a look at nurses who would rather work in administration or education. If a nurse wants to follow an administrative path, they will need a minimum of a MSN, Masters of Science in Nursing. These types of administrative positions for a nurse holding that level of a graduate degree would probably be a nurse administrator within a hospital setting. The nurse administrator not only oversees the nursing staff of the entire facility, but they will also work directly under the executive director.
When it comes to a nurse educator, an RN ‘could’ teach classes in a secondary school or a vocational school but in order to teach on a college or university level they would need a minimum of that MSN mentioned above. When it comes to higher education, the rule of thumb is usually holding a degree a minimum of one level above the level they are teaching. Therefore, if a nurse educator is teaching in a two- or four-year educational institution, they would need that MSN. However, if the nurse educator is teaching graduate classes, a DNP, Doctor of Nursing Practice with an emphasis in education degree would be the level required for certification to teach that level at university.
6. A Chance to Travel the World
Although working as a travel nurse isn’t quite the same as Doctors without Borders, it is one of the greatest adventures an RN can have. With that said, one of the most appreciated perks of the job is that the rate of pay can be so much higher than that of an RN affiliated with a hospital, for example. It is said that travel nurses can easily make a 6-figure income and that is something to look forward to. Even so, that is only part of what makes studying to be a nurse in 2022 so exciting.
There is also the fact that you can pick and choose the locations you want to be located in, so if you decide you’d like to winter in Colorado to get in a little skiing, why not? Nurses do work long hours, but they also get time off and what better way to enjoy those days off than seeing parts of the country they always wanted to see?
Some nurses choose this path purely because of the shortage in healthcare workers. They are willing to temporarily locate in some of the most understaffed parts of the country. It is a great opportunity for serving those you’ve studied to serve and don’t forget how good all that experience looks on your resume!
7. Flexible Hours
One of the most interesting aspects of working as a nurse in most of the larger institutions is that they work what most people might consider an odd schedule. Some hospitals staff nurses on three days and off four, or the reverse, on four days, off three. Either way, it still works out to a full-time schedule anywhere from a 36-hour week to a 40-hour week. With the ability to pick a hospital that offers shorter work weeks, even if workdays are longer, many mothers and fathers choose to have more days to actually do things with their children.
Also, nurses can be staffed around the clock. They can work days, evenings, or overnight. The hospitals that run 12-hour shifts may have some overlap so that there is an hour or so transition instead of two distinct cutoffs. Sometimes it’s the shift availability that determines where nurses choose to work but that is another great reason to choose nursing as a career in 2022. How many jobs can you find that always have openings in the shift you prefer to work? There may be secretarial jobs, for example, at organizations open 24/7, but those positions aren’t usually in high demand, so it tends to be more competitive. As a nurse, no matter what shift you want to work or what specialization you have, if any, there is always going to be a job for you. That’s a fact.
8. Personal Fulfillment
Getting back for just a moment to the concept of nursing being a vocation rather than a career or a profession, there is something to be said about the sense of fulfillment a nurse feels at the end of the day. Knowing that you were there to ease someone’s pain, sit with them while they digested the news that they were in stage 4 cancer or being there with a family member who just lost a loved one brings the greatest sense of fulfillment imaginable.
As a nurse you will not always be a miracle worker, but your presence can be one of the most reassuring acts of kindness the world has to offer. Ask any person who has ever suffered a lengthy hospital stay and they will gladly tell you that it was their nurse who kept them from the point of despair. It was their nurse who communicated their needs to the doctor who was then able to adjust treatments and it was the nurse who held your hand while you wept or screamed in pain.
And There’s More!
Finally, another great reason to study to become a nurse in 2022 is just that! There’s always more. You can go from being an RN with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, to a Nurse Practitioner (NP) with a Master of Science in Nursing, MSN. Although most hospitals and doctors prefer an NP to have a Doctor of Nursing Practice, DNP, it is possible to work under the direction of a doctor with a master’s degree.
As an RN with a BSN, you can also take continuing ed courses to add other procedures to the list of things you are certified to do. As mentioned above, some neonatal nurses are certified in intubation especially for those times when there isn’t an MD on hand. Transport nurses often make ‘the call’ and then report to the attending when transporting tiny babies who are in crisis. No matter what level of nursing you achieve, one of the greatest reasons to study for that degree in 2022 is in knowing that there is always more. It’s a never-ending road that leads you to new heights.