By Sandy Summers
Why become a nurse? You get to save lives. That is one of the best things we can do for others, but it’s also a huge adrenaline rush! Just ask any nurse.
Nurses are college-educated science professionals who make a critical difference in how people live every day. Nurses use advanced skills and a unique, holistic care model to help patients regain and maintain health. So nursing is a great choice for smart, strong men and women who care about others and want to help improve their lives. And the long-term job outlook for nursing is really good. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, RN jobs will increase by 19% by 2022. In 2012, the average RN earned $65,000 annually.
Nurses perform 24/7 patient monitoring. When nurses detect a problem, they make a rescue plan. Nurses administer high-tech treatments, from defibrillation to chemotherapy to wound care. Nurses also focus on prevention and the big picture and they teach patients about how to provide for their own health needs, so they can go home and live healthy, productive lives. Nursing is not about holding hands, fluffing pillows, or serving physicians. And as autonomous professionals, nurses work with physicians and others, not for them.
Nurses fight for their patients. That means they advocate for the rights and health of their patients as if they were the nurses’ own family members. Sometimes people in hospitals make errors, such as prescribing the wrong medication or even amputating the wrong body part! Nurses must protect patients from these errors. Research shows that health care errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S., so if physicians prescribe a medication or procedure that a nurse thinks is dangerous, nurses are legally and ethically bound to object and negotiate for a better plan. Nurses also fight for patients in other ways. Examples include resisting those who might seek to perform unnecessary procedures or who might push new mothers to bottle-feed instead of breastfeed. Nurses know that babies who are fed formula are more likely to suffer illness and death than babies who are breastfed. Of course, it is not easy for nurses to resist more powerful groups and persons, but good nurses do so when they must to protect their patients.
How can you become a nurse? Start in high school. Take college prep courses such as biology, chemistry, physics, and advanced math, as well as challenging English, social studies, and foreign language courses, because a key part of nursing is communicating effectively with a wide range of people, from powerful physicians to disadvantaged patients. Aim for top scores because many schools now are looking for a GPA of at least 3.6. Study hard! After high school, the main entry pathways today to become a registered nurse are a four-year bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree or a three-year associates degree in nursing. Research shows that the more education nurses have, the more lives they save, so consider just going straight for your BSN. If you aspire to become a nurse and you want a free bumper sticker (pictured below) to tell the world why you’re becoming a nurse, just ask for one by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org!
For more info on becoming a nurse, check out the action links below.
The Truth About Nursing
Learn more about nursing and if it is the right career for you.
Explore a career in the healthcare industry.