Florence Nightingale laid the foundation for professional nursing while caring for soldiers in the Crimean War in 1848. Caring for the sick and wounded in battle set the stage for nursing to emerge as a profession. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook 2010-2011, registered nurses comprise the largest healthcare occupation with over 2.6 million jobs.
Nursing is a career that can be both rewarding and possibly the most enriching experience in a person’s life. Men, women and those seeking a career change may find that nursing is a versatile profession. Some of the reasons for choosing a career in nursing include job stability, income potential, variety of work and financial assistance available for nursing students. People are living longer as medical technology has advanced.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that by the year 2030 adults 65 years of age will comprise 20 percent of the US population. An aging population will require more nurses to care for the complex health issues of their patients, thus making registered nurses vital to the everevolving healthcare industry.
A benefit to choosing nursing as a career is a flexible work schedule. With so many areas of nursing specialties to choose from and with such a wide variety of settings, a nurse can choose the hours and number of days per week they want to work. Many employers offer non-traditional work schedules, shift differentials, and Baylor plans where you work three 12-hour shifts or 36 hours and get paid for 40 hours.
Because of the mental, physical and emotional demands of providing nursing care, you may experience burnout. Those with career burnout have a loss of interest or frustration that interferes with job performance which is usually caused by job related stress. When a nurse experiences burnout in 1 area of nursing, there are always opportunities to change their career path without having to leave the field entirely. Nurses have the option to stay on a single track their entire profession or continue to specialize and diversify their skills throughout their career.
Employer benefits for nurses typically vary by the type, size or specialty of the organization they work for. A good deal of employers provide benefit packages that typically include medical, dental and life insurance, flexible spending accounts and 401k plans, long and short term disability, paid holiday/ sick time, tuition benefits, uniform allowances and continuing education reimbursement. Most employers offer to pay a portion of the benefits, saving the employee significant amounts of money per year.
Some employers will offer ladder systems that allow nurses to work toward meeting predetermined criteria related to work performance in an effort to receive incentive bonuses. Additionally, nurses typically receive an annual performance review with a potential for an increase in pay and vacation time after each year worked.
An intrinsic benefit of nursing is the respect they receive in their community, after they have finished their nursing classes. There is a certain sense of pride in being a nurse and patients have often reported nurses to be the MOST important person they have contact with during their healthcare experience. Nurses take time to provide comfort and reassurance when there is often too little time to do so. A professional nurse not only provides medical care to the patient but also provides assistance with their spiritual and psycho-social needs. Nurses make a difference in someone else’s life when they are suffering, in pain, going through grief or even during the joy of bringing a new child into the world.