There has never been a better time to consider a nursing career. Jobs in nursing are plentiful, and the opportunities available are diverse and challenging. There are many advantages including above-average pay, job security and a chance to make meaningful contributions to our rapidly changing healthcare system.
What Are the Benefits of the Nursing Profession?
Becoming a nurse in today’s healthcare environment yields an abundance of benefits. Nursing is a highly-respected profession. In a 2015 Gallup poll, nurses received the highest rating for honesty and ethics in any profession. Nursing has consistently rated in the top percentile since Gallup first ran the poll in 1999.
Above Average Compensation
According to the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for nurses in 2015 was $67,490 per year. Put into perspective, the median pay for all workers across all areas during this same period was $36,200.
Within the nursing profession, earning potential increases with additional education.
- Associate of Science in Nursing Degree or Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN/ASN) — $54,000 to $88,000 per year.
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) — $57,000 to $130,000 per year.
- Master of Science in Nursing Degree in Nursing (MSN) — $65,000 to $196,000 per year.
- Doctoral-prepared nurses (DNP/PhD) — $106,000 to $200,000 per year.
Per the BLS, employment for nurses is projected to grow 16 percent from 2014 to 2024—a rate much faster than all other occupations. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation adds that “nursing grads can take heart from long-term projections that show they have one of the hottest degrees there is.”
The high demand for nurses can be attributed, in part, to an aging American population and a rise in chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and mental illness, according to “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health,” a report compiled by the Institute of Medicine (renamed National Academy of Medicine [NAM] in 2015). The United States Department of Health & Human Services says the passing of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 added about 20 million insured Americans to the healthcare system between 2010 and 2016.
An Opportunity to Make Meaningful Contributions to an Evolving Healthcare System
In their “The Future of Nursing” report, the Institute of Medicine calls for nurses to work with physicians and other healthcare professionals as full partners. Nurses are not just assistants; they are professionals who are an essential part of our healthcare system.
High Diversity in Nursing Roles
DiscoverNursing reports that there are 104 nursing specialties, each requiring a unique set of skills. For instance, health policy nurses research, analyze and advocate for optimal public health policies. Nurse informaticists use their skills in computer science to help manage, interpret and communicate medical information. They may also help develop medical technology. There are not just an abundance of jobs in nursing, but a wide assortment as well.
How to Become a Nurse
The basics of becoming a nurse, according to DiscoverNursing, include getting a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED), choosing and applying to a nursing school, and then passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).
Another important consideration is choosing the appropriate degree. You can choose from different levels of registered nursing degrees, including ADN/ASN, BSN, MSN, or DNP/ PhD. Career opportunities, job responsibilities and pay increase with the more education you have.
If you are unsure of which degree to pursue, consider the “The Future of Nursing” report, which recommends that the proportion of BSN-prepared nurses be increased to 80 percent by 2020. Per DiscoverNursing, many BSN-prepared nurses are groomed for leadership positions in which they assume more complex roles. Earning a BSN is also a solid foundation for graduate nursing studies.
The nursing profession has changed rapidly in recent years, propelling a demand for nurses with varying levels of skills. The pay, benefits, respect of the position and career growth make nursing one of the best career choices available. The online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program from the University of Texas at Arlington College of Nursing and Health Innovation prepares students to thrive in this new healthcare system.
Learn more about the UT Arlington online BSN program.
Have a question or concern about this article? Please contact us.