Career risks and benefits of nursing

Every profession has its pros and cons and this is no less true for nursing, a highly demanding and, sometimes stressful, career. Being a nurse takes patience and perseverance from the time you enter your formal education to obtaining your degree and eventually learning a new job.

Burnout is the leading cause for job dissatisfaction in nursing. Physical demands on nurses, especially those working in direct patient care are heavy. Nurses take on the responsibility of transferring patients from beds to stretchers, lifting durable medical equipment, stooping, bending and spending long hours on their feet every day.

Nurses can be exposed to hostile conditions that result from the medical illnesses and conditions of their patients. Work-related injuries and worker’s compensation cases in the healthcare industry are staggering. The upside to this phenomena is work related injuries can be reduced significantly through ongoing employer sponsored in-service education.

The demand for nurses nationwide proves the field of nursing is not a dying profession. This demand also causes some employers difficulty in hiring ample staff which in turn can cause staffing deficits. Due to staff shortages, nurses may be asked to work longer hours to cover partial shifts until more help can be provided. In some cases they may be asked to work mandatory overtime or take on a larger case load, which again can lead to burnout as previously discussed.

Career Paths in Nursing

Nurses often specialize in areas that are of interest to them and where they feel they do their best work in a job they like to do. Specializing is not a credentialing process, rather, it is a personal preference for an area of interest. It is the sole decision of any nurse to choose how they want to spend their career in nursing, whether it is to consistently explore and do new things every few years or remain with a specialty.

There are 4 ways to specialize in nursing with each of the following listing only a few of the numerous options:

  • Type of treatment or setting. Outpatient Surgery Center, Ambulatory Care Center, Hospital, Physician’s office.
  • Health Conditions. Diabetes Nurse Educator, Obesity Management, Asthma Management, Oncology.
  • Well defined populations. Pediatric, Gerontology, Chemical dependency, Pain Management, Psychiatric.
  • Cross-Specializing. Nurses who work with a well-defined population specializing on specific health conditions such as geriatric nursing programs working with Alzheimer’s patients or Pediatric Oncology.

Specializing in nursing is something often done after the nurse has begun working and usually occurs after they develop enough skills and experience to make a decision. Specializing is also based on each individual’s personal interests in healthcare. Once a nurse chooses a specialty area and has worked in that specialty for a specified timeframe they are eligible to take a credentialing examination and become certified.

Credentialing is validation that the nurse has advanced skills and knowledge in their specialty, which in turn can enhance their career and salary prospects. Not every type of nursing suits every individual. However, with so many specialties to choose from and new specialties being created every day it is not difficult to find what interests you most.

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