To Nurse or Not to Nurse? That is the question!

Fall 2013 | Permalink | Category: Career

To Nurse or Not to Nurse? That is the Question!
By: Marsha Hardy Boswell RN, BSN, MSEd, NBCT
    Every year approximately three out of every ten students who enroll in nursing will actually complete their studies and obtain a degree. Why do so many students change their major? Before you can embark on a career in nursing, you need to be knowledgable about the characteristics and skills required to be a successful nurse. There are many reasons to choose nursing as a career, but are you making the right decision? Ask yourself, "Why do I want to be a nurse?" Consider the following information and you will be able to answer the question I have posed, "to nurse or not to nurse?"

    The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 20.5 million new jobs in nursing over the next ten years. Currently (as of 2013), nursing ranks number four out of thirty occupations as having the largest number of job openings due to growth and replacement. One possible reason to select nursing as a career is job availability. 

    Nursing salaries are at an all-time high. The average new graduate salary ranges from $45,000-$60,000 per year depending on the area of practice. Looking forward to a good salary increase as you gain experience is another reason to choose nursing as a career.
    Nurses have a variety of choices when it comes to practice areas. You can work in the hospital setting, ambulatory care, out-patient clinics, physician offices, dialysis clinics, skilled nursing facilities, home care, hospice, education, management, and the options continue. Being versatile and having practice options are advantages to opting for a nursing degree. 

    Let's not forget one of the major reasons for becoming a nurse, and the driving force behind my own choice thrity-four years ago, which is to help people during a vulnerable and scary time in their life. As people face sickness, chronic illness, surgery, childbirth, and even death, it is rewarding to know that you have the skills and compassion to make a difference. At the age of five, I knew I wanted to be a nurse. When school started, nurse kit in hand, I would rush to the rescue of any injured child on the playground or any vomitting classmate in the hallway. I had never stepped into a hospital until my first clinical rotation at JSU in fundamentals of nursing, yet it felt like home. My spirit instantly connected, and I have been hooked ever since! Helping people through diffficult situations and the personal rewards for providing patient care are common reasons one may decide to pursue a nursing career. 

        There are many reasons to be a nurse, but do you have what it takes to do so? Compassion, empathy, felxibility, critical thinking, problem-solving, and multitasking skills are key characteristics. The ability to apply concepts from one situation to another, to accept almost constant change, to communicate, to work as a team, and to get along with people are just a few of the important skills you must possess. Can you lift 50-75 pounds? Do you have the eye to hand coordination to perform skills such as starting an IV or putting in a tube? Academically, are you strong in biological sciences, math, reading, and writing? If you are passionate about nursing but need to improve academcially there are some courses that can help you prepare for nursing such as chemistry, biology, human anatomy, physiology, alegebra, and any labe-based science available. These courses will help you develop critical thinking and application skills. 

    Nursing encompasses social, physical, psychological, and mental skill sets. It is full of daily chalenges, but if you have passion and dedication, nursing is an extremely rewarding and satisfying career. Unless you choose to be a nurse for the right reasons, you may be one of the 7/10 that does not complete the program. Do you have what it takes to be a good nurse? That is your question! 

Marsha Hardy Boswell RN, BSN, MSEd, NBCT, Director of Education 
Marsha has been an RN for 30 years. She has worked in ICU, CCU, ED, NICU, L&D, medical surgical units, Home Care, Hospice, and prison nursing. Her passion is providing the best possible patient care and education to provide the highest quality patient care. Marsha worked on the 2003 Alabama Science Course of Study Committee to develop education standards for students in grades 9-12 in the areas of biology, anatomy, forensic science, zoology, and botany. She has been selected for America's Who's Who Among Nurses and Educators, and is a charter memeber of Jacksonville State University's Sigma Theta Tau National Honor Society for Nurses. Marsha has worked for Alacare Home Health and Hospice for eight years as a branch director, case manager, field nurse, and currently serves as the director of education for 24 branches accross the state of Alabama.