Nursing is a career that has and will continue to remain in demand for as long as the need for healthcare services exists. It comes as no surprise that nursing is the largest segment in the medical industry at present, with more than 4.2 million registered nurses already in the workforce, and there are more than 200,00 more jobs to be added to the field each year for the coming decade. It is a prospective career that can put you on a decent growth trajectory while helping others at the same time.
As a student or novice nurse, you still have a few years to make a decision on the career front, but in case your passion lies in the field of nursing, you can explore the field and start preparing to enroll in it. Even as a graduate, you have several options. There are a lot of factors that you will need to consider and research along the way. It also pays to talk with experts or your mentor to get some clarity on your career choice. At the end of the day, when you make a final choice, these steps will ensure that you are ready to embrace it.
Here are some tips that will help you prepare for a career in nursing down the line:
- Choose your classes carefully
For individuals who have already passed through a master’s degree program, the options may seem limited. However, you can still pursue online post master’s certificate nurse practitioner programs that allows you to take up careers in one of five critical care areas, including psychiatric mental health, family practice, pediatric primary care, adult-gerontology primary, and acute care. You can then explore job opportunities for nursing leads across the country.
For students, it is important to note that nursing schools usually have strict standards for admissions, and in order to ensure you meet the criteria, it is important that you start early on. Taking classes in your high school that put you on track for a nursing degree can help a lot. Make sure you prioritize subjects like chemistry, biology, and statistics, and in case there are more advanced courses at your college, like physiology and anatomy, try taking those too.
A few high schools even allow students to take college classes for dual credit. However, in order to pursue this, you must inquire with a local university or college that offers a nursing program. If the admissions department gives you the green light, you can pursue a pre-nursing course to experience what the field is like and begin the journey toward nursing as a career. US high schools also offer advanced placement courses that boost your admission chances to a nursing institute.
- Register as a HOSA-Future Health Professionals Member
The Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) is an organization led and made up of students. It is formally recognized by various federal agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services and the US Department of Education. The HOSA-Future Health Professionals body is a specific initiative for middle, high school, and post-secondary students. In order to become a member, you need to be in a school with a HOSA chapter. In case your school doesn’t, you can request them to start one.
HOSA promotes possibilities for employment in the healthcare sector. It gives students instruction and engages participants in competition opportunities within regional and academic chapters. This helps students develop their teamwork and employment skills in addition to giving them a head start in one of the various fields of the nursing profession. Additionally, you can use HOSA to network with nursing professionals.
- Explore volunteering opportunities
In order to get into nursing school or change your career path later on in life, you need at least some experience in the field. Volunteering can help you garner this experience to some extent. Students have more to benefit from these social opportunities as they are able to fit better into local programs offered by hospitals, local clinics, or other facilities in the area. Try volunteering a few hours every week; this will give you a chance to shadow nurses while they are at work. As a volunteer, you may not be involved in more complex tasks like assisting surgeries, but you will have a chance to observe these procedures for your knowledge.
- Have discussions with experts
If you can’t find volunteering opportunities in your area, you can explore other avenues for learning. Try talking to the school nurse and seeing if they will allow you to shadow them during the day. Alternatively, you can look for other nursing specialists, practitioners, or even doctors you know. You can not only ask them for career advice but also inquire about possible opportunities where you can accompany them for work, or in case they have the connections, they can hook you up with an internship somewhere. The exposure you gain from these steps will help pave your career for the future.
- Explore your specialization of interest
You have access to a wide range of fields within the nursing profession. Associate degree in Nursing (ADN), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), and Registered Nurse Certificate (RN), are a few examples of nursing programs. A mental health nurse, family nurse practitioner, cardiac or geriatric nurse, critical care nurse, surgical/OR nurse, etc., are examples of specializations. Each of these has a unique pay structure that improves with time.
Even while money might be a driving force, choosing a profession based on your interests is best. Every field has its pros and cons. As an individual, it all comes down to personal preferences when choosing a specialization that you have the passion to pursue.
Building a career in the nursing profession is not as difficult as it may sound. Of course, admission tests are hard and have high standards, but the job these healthcare professionals perform requires those criteria to be met. If you are able to take the necessary steps early on in life and make the most out of available opportunities, you will be easily able to get up to speed and realize your dream of becoming a nurse. On the other hand, if you are an experienced professional looking for a career change, there are avenues for you too. Enrolling in a post-masters nursing program is the best course of action in this case.