If you’re considering a career in nursing, then you could be making a fantastic and secure career choice. A nursing career is challenging, and it can take a long time to gain the right qualifications to enter the profession. However, if you love solving problems, connecting with people, and delivering excellent levels of care, then a career in nursing might just be the perfect career for you.

Nursing Opportunities Are Growing

There is a growing demand for registered nurses in the US. It’s predicted that the employment of registered nurses in the United States is likely to grow by 15% from 2016 to 2026. This is relatively high when compared to other industries making it a very encouraging statistic and great news for anyone interested in a career in nursing. 

The reasons for this increase are as you might expect, more people are having children, and more people are getting ill with the rate of people having chronic diseases in the US also on the rise. According to CDC research, 6 in 10 American adults have a chronic disease, and 4 in 10 American adults have one chronic disease or more.

The CDC suggests that some of the leading lifestyle risks that can cause chronic disease are:

  • The use of tobacco
  • Bad diet and poor nutrition
  • Absence of or lack of physical activity
  • The excessive use of alcohol

As well as treating these diseases, there is an effort to promote preventative care and encourage people to lead healthier and more active lives by eating more healthily and doing more exercise.

Getting the Right Nursing Qualifications 

To become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN), students are required to attend and complete a 12-18-month program. These nursing programs are offered at many colleges across the United States. Upon completion of the program, an LPN or LVP can expect to be delivering a basic level of patient care such as checking vital signs and monitoring patients while on shift.

The LPN and LVN programs are just the entry-level requirements for becoming a practicing nurse. More advanced courses become available after completing an LPN or LVN program including:

  • ADN Programs – Associate Degree in Nursing 
  • BSN Programs – Bachelor of Science in Nursing 
  • RN to BSN – Converting an ADN into a BSN
  • MSN – Master of Science in Nursing 
  • DNP – Doctor of Nursing Program replacing MSN programs

As well as these programs, there are several steps that people can take to advance their nursing career, which can help them to become a fully qualified nurse practitioner.

To achieve this requires doing further study and enrolling onto an ADN to NP program. This type of program will build on the knowledge from any previous courses and can help you to specialize in certain areas. Program tracks include studying to become a family nurse practitioner or an adult-gerontology, primary care nurse practitioner.

Many of the advanced courses, including the BSN to NP program, can be studied online and are designed to be undertaken around current nursing jobs and shift patterns. 

Typical Pay for Different Nursing Roles 

With nurses being in such high demand, which is only likely to increase over the coming years, the pay on offer can be attractive. However, it’s not just the demand that dictates high salaries. Higher pay usually demonstrates a commitment to the profession both in terms of experience and the time it takes to study to become a fully qualified nurse. 

Although it’s difficult to say exactly what the pay grades are because it varies in different states and in different organizations, there are some figures out there that can be used. Some of these figures have been taken from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

  • ADN registered Nurse – $67, 490 USD per year
  • MSN nurse practitioner – $107,460 USD per year 
  • DNP graduate – over $135,000+ USD per year
  • Nurse with CRNA specialization – $160,000 – $250,000 USD per year 

Every nursing role comes with new and greater levels of responsibility and will require additional qualifications and years of experience. Some may even require managing a team of nurses and will be less hands-on. This is an important factor to consider when choosing the best route to go down.

The Role of a Nurse Practitioner 

A nurse practitioner can have a varied role dealing with different situations every day and is able to conduct more medical duties compared to other nurses. Some of the core responsibilities that a nurse practitioner may be able to do include:

Prescribing Medicine – When it comes to prescribing medicine, licensed nurse practitioners are legally able to prescribe medications, whereas a registered nurse cannot. Being a nurse practitioner affords you greater flexibility when it comes to prescribing medicine compared to a registered nurse who will have to work under a physician to decide on patient care and follow-up.  

Conducting Physical Examinations – As well as addressing areas with acute pain or discomfort, nurses also perform physical exams looking at areas like the eyes, head, chest, abdomen, musculoskeletal system, such as your hands and wrists and nervous system functions, such as speech and walking. It will also involve inspecting skin, hair, and nails, and maybe even blood tests.

Managing Patient Treatment – As a nurse practitioner you are likely to be able to take full responsibility for patient treatment and recovery, whereas a registered nurse will need to consult with a doctor or physician before taking action and issuing advice or drugs. 

Choosing a Career in Nursing

With the demand for nurses increasing in the US, there’s never been a better time to consider this as a new or first career. Along with a great salary, the job is extremely rewarding, helping people get back to full health or manage their illness to give them a better quality of life. 

Choosing the right area to specialize in is important, along with researching the correct qualifications that will get you there. If you are prepared to put the time in to study and gaining experience, nursing can be a very fulfilling career that can last your whole working life.