Nursing: The “Little Black Dress” in Your Career Closet
Why does wearing that perfect suit or little black dress make us feel sharp, confident, and unstoppable? Coco Chanel’s head designer, Karl Lagerfeld, explained that “one is never overdressed or underdressed with a little black dress.” It fits all occasions and can be dressed up or down to suit you. While most fashion trends fade, this go-to outfit is always in style and will never let you down no matter where you’re going. Your career could do that, too.
Nursing is a timeless, versatile, and rewarding profession. Just as your little black dress is an essential wardrobe piece, nurses are an essential part of our health care system. In President Obama’s words, “America’s nurses are the beating heart of our medical system.” Discover how nursing could be your fail-safe career and make you feel like you can conquer the world.
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Nursing is timeless.
Nursing is a career that will stand the test of time. Nursing is one of the few job markets that is growing despite the lag in the economy as a whole. Opportunities in nursing are expected to grow even more in the next decade. Jobs for RNs are projected to increase by 19 percent through 2022, and jobs for NPs are expected to rise as much as 31 percent through 2022. This growth is “faster than the average for all occupations,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The growing demand for nurses also makes it a fitting role for professionals looking to change careers. The average age of nurses is 46, and the job opportunities are plentiful. “You do not have to fret about finding and holding onto your job when you are a nurse,” says RN Janine Kelbach, an eight-year veteran in Labor and Delivery. “People are always going to get sick, have babies, need school nurses, camp nurses, and more,” which is a particular benefit of nursing as a second career.
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Nursing is versatile.
Many different paths are available to you in pursuing a nursing career, each with different levels of educational requirements. You can earn multiple credentials in one program of study, or you can earn them one at a time and add more advanced degrees at any time during your career.
- Licensed Practical Nurse: An LPN certification requires about one year of education. LPNs are supervised by RNs and are typically responsible for basic patient care such as routine medical procedures, monitoring health information, and taking samples.
- Registered Nurse—Associate’s Degree: The minimum requirement to become an RN is a two-year ASN degree, which is available from nursing schools, community colleges, and online programs. RNs with an ASN degree typically perform the most recognizable nursing tasks—recording patient symptoms, updating medical charts, working as part of a medical team, and creating care plans for patients.
- Registered Nurse—Bachelor’s Degree: Earning a BSN requires four years of college education. However, many accelerated RN-to-BSN programs are available for nurses with an associate’s degree who want to complete their BSN. An RN with a BSN is qualified for leadership and educator roles and has a higher level of decision-making responsibilities. Many health care facilities are beginning to prefer a BSN qualification over an ASN.
- Advanced Practice RN—Master’s Degree: Also called Nurse Practitioners (NPs), RNs with an advanced degree can diagnose, treat, and prescribe medication for patient conditions. An MSN usually takes two years of study after completing a BSN. NPs have the highest level of autonomy and may work in collaboration with a licensed physician, not directly under his or her supervision.
The versatility of nursing is also apparent in the many different specialties you can choose from. There are 104 nursing specialties, including clinical, family, psychological, surgical, and women’s health areas. Your journey through nursing can take you in many different directions and offers you the versatility to change and adapt your career direction as you go.
[Do you want to be a nurse? Find out what you need to know.]
Nursing is a good investment.
Nursing degrees are accessible through multiple affordable programs. These options are designed to help prepare you for a nursing career quickly so you can get the maximum value out of your tuition investment.
- Online nursing degree programs: Designed for working nurses who need to manage jobs and families, online programs offer flexibility for students looking to advance their nursing careers.
- Accelerated programs: Many schools offer accelerated degree programs for professionals with some credentials who want to earn a BSN or MSN, including those looking at nursing as a second career. RN-to-BSN and RN-to-MSN programs help you earn your degree in less time with lower tuition costs by building on the education you already have. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing says “for those with a prior degree, accelerated baccalaureate programs offer the quickest route to becoming a registered nurse with programs generally running 12-18 months long.”
- Prior Learning Assessment: You can earn college credits for the experience you already have by demonstrating mastery of core skills required for your nursing degree. This option can help those with prior degrees or experience earn a nursing degree in less time for less money.
Once in the field, your education in nursing has an immediate on-the-job impact. With each advancement in your education, you will have a higher salary, job security, and more professional opportunities. LPNs earn an average of $41,500, according to 2012 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. An RN earns a median annual salary of $65,500, and NPs earn an average of $96,500. Factors such as area of specialty, location, overtime pay, and supplemental benefit packages also contribute to a nurse’s overall income potential.
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Coco Chanel, credited for inventing the little black dress phenomenon, said that “fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street. Fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” Your career as a nurse is more than a job and an earned income. It is the way you make people feel, how they remember their experience with you, and the impact you can have on everyone you meet. Find the path that fits you, that makes you feel unstoppable, and discover just how fulfilling it can be.