If you’re unsatisfied with your current career, you might want to consider a change to nursing. Right now, there’s a high demand for registered nurses (RNs) in the U.S. The most desirable nursing degree is the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), as:
- The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) recognizes a BSN as the minimum education requirement for professional nursing practice.
- There are better patient outcomes with BSN-prepared nurses.
- With a BSN, you are poised to earn an MSN and take on leadership roles.
Is Nursing Worth It?
Several recent developments — including the pandemic, technological advances and the changing role of nurses — might lead you to wonder whether nursing is a good career for the future. Is being a nurse worth it? Let’s look at a list of factors that address that very question.
- There is a shortage of nurses in the U.S. that doesn’t appear to be letting up anytime soon. Due to the retirement of an entire generation of nurses; longer life expectancies; the increase in chronic ailments like diabetes; and the current limitations faced by nursing schools (space, facilities, faculty); we’re facing a major shortfall of nurses in this country. For those who are considering nursing as a career path, this can mean pretty certain job security. In light of the recent pandemic, some healthcare organizations are offering sign-on bonuses up to $25,000 for nurses to join their staff.
- Nurses make good money. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for a registered nurse in 2021 is $75,330 per year. And nurses who pursue advanced practice careers can earn upwards of $90,000 per year.
- There is great flexibility in nursing. As a nurse, you can plan on choosing when and where you’d like to work. You can choose a part-time, full-time or per diem position. There are three shifts to choose from (day, evening and overnight). You can elect to work in a hospital, outpatient or non-traditional setting. There are positions available in the city, the suburbs, or the country. And even if you take some time off, you’ll likely face little difficulty finding a new position when you are ready to work again.
- You’ll enjoy job satisfaction as a nurse. You’ll leave work at the end of the day knowing that you made a difference. A Gallup poll shows that nursing has been voted the most respected profession for 19 years running. Nurses are an invaluable liaison between physicians and their patients, spending more time with patients than any other healthcare team member. Nursing, in sum, is one of the most rewarding careers you can choose.
- There is no shortage of nursing specialties. Once employed as an RN, you can earn certification in obstetrics and gynecology, endocrinology, mental health, pediatrics, oncology, or cardiovascular care, to name a few.
- You can use a nursing degree to pursue alternative careers. We’ll look at these a little bit later.
Although the benefits of becoming a nurse are undeniable, there are developments in the field that have caused the nursing experience to evolve.
The Changing Role of Nurses
Many factors are influencing the evolution of nursing practice, including the pandemic, technology and the emergence of opportunities in various advanced practice roles.
The Impact of the Pandemic
The healthcare industry has been hit hard by the recent pandemic. There is unprecedented stress and demand on nurses and other patient-care professionals. They’re working longer shifts, wearing limiting personal protective equipment (PPE) and following strict hygiene practices.
In addition to these added pressures, healthcare equipment is in short supply. Hospitals are running low on beds, medication, medical equipment such as ventilators and room for patients. Because PPE is in short supply, nurses must sometimes reuse masks for hours or days at a time. Due to the lack of beds and space, healthcare professionals are setting up temporary care facilities in schools, auditoriums, tents and convention centers. Nurses must adapt to these changes quickly.
More and more, nurses are being asked to cross-train and help out on unfamiliar units as needed. Some nurses opt to travel to other cities that are overwhelmed and need help. In some cases, nurses must work in units that require a temporary separation from their loved ones. Nurses often sacrifice their comfort and lifestyle in the name of dedication to their profession.
No other providers spend more time with patients than nurses. Because visitors have been banned from many healthcare facilities during the pandemic, nurses often provide patients with their only human contact. They help patients communicate with loved ones using phones or computers.
Nursing has long been the most trusted profession in the country. But these days, nurses are viewed as true heroes.
Technology in Nursing Education and Application
Technological developments in patient care are changing the role of nurses. New medication options, advanced procedures and new tools change how nurses carry out their role. Some of these technological innovations are:
Smart pumps, or automated IV pumps, help manage correct medication dosages. The computerized devices can change the fluid drip amount and speed automatically, as prescribed by the doctor. This makes dosage changes easier and helps prevent errors. Smart pumps also come equipped with alarms that let nurses know when fluid levels are low or tubing is kinked.
Smart beds help track a patient’s vital signs, movement and weight. This new technology also issues alerts when patients attempt to get out of bed, allowing nurses to potentially prevent falls and injuries. Smart beds can also encourage patients to change position more frequently — either on their own or with assistance — to prevent bedsores.
Electronic Health Records
An electronic health record (EHR) is a digital version of a patient’s medical chart. The record comprises a patient’s medical history — including diagnoses, progress notes, medications, vaccinations, radiology reports and lab results.
EHRs make the collection and sharing of information at a patient’s bedside much easier. They serve as a single source for information, helping caregivers avoid mistakes and unnecessary testing and preventing treatment delays.
Personal Health Records
Personal health records (PHR) give patients access to some parts of their medical records, like diagnoses and test results.
In light of the recent pandemic, nurses and other healthcare professionals increasingly provide patient care over the internet, through live video conferencing. This allows a greater number of patients to be seen in a day and prevents the spread of germs attributed to office visits.
Technological developments can help minimize the time-consuming and stressful parts of a nurse’s job. While these developments help nurses to better and more easily care for patients, technology can never replace the human interaction that’s so inherent in a nurse’s role.
Traditional and Alternative BSN Careers
Once you earn a BSN degree, you can practice in a variety of settings and pursue certification in one of many nursing specialties.
Nursing at the Bedside
These nurses work in hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Their duties include:
- Assessing patients.
- Observing and recording vital signs.
- Passing medications.
- Caring for patients’ physical and emotional needs.
- Helping patients with activities of daily living.
- Readying patients for surgery and other procedures.
- Serving as the link between patients and physicians.
- Ensuring patients’ and families’ comprehension of information.
- Educating patients regarding at-home and follow-up care.
BSN-educated bedside nurses can also seek certification in specific areas of practice, such as:
- Labor and delivery, caring for women and babies – before, during and after childbirth.
- Pediatrics, caring for a wide array of patients under the age of 18.
- Cardiac care, caring for patients with heart disease and other cardiac ailments.
- Emergency department, caring for patients who suffer injuries, acute illnesses and traumas.
- Hematology, caring for patients with blood disorders or diseases.
- Oncology, caring for patients with, or at risk of having, cancer.
- Nephrology, caring for patients with kidney disease or abnormal kidney function.
Alternative Nursing Careers
Nurses with BSN degrees can select from a wide array of career options outside the traditional hospital setting. For instance, they can practice nursing on or at:
- Insurance companies
- Government agencies
- Correctional facilities
- Cruise ships
- Military bases
- Public health offices
- Schools and universities
Some nursing jobs don’t involve direct care at all. These positions are worth considering once you’ve earned a BSN:
1. Informatics Nurse
If you enjoy a position where every day is different; you can communicate with others; and you will learn new things; becoming an informatics nurse may be a great fit for you. In this role, you’ll be responsible for assessing a hospital staff’s needs to determine what technological updates are required within the facility.
Informatics nurses also use their technical knowledge, along with their clinical nursing skills, to develop systems to improve the quality of patient care. Outside of the hospital setting, these nurses work in IT companies, nursing schools, patients’ homes and long-term care centers.
2. Travel Nurse
If you love adventure, travel nursing may be a good option for you. Travel nurses are needed because hospitals and other healthcare facilities can encounter gaps in their workforce due to staff training, staffing shortages, lengthy absences and more. Amid the recent pandemic, nurses are earning top dollar to travel to the neediest cities.
With travel nursing, you’ll have the flexibility and freedom to choose when and where you want to work. If it’s your dream to work as a nurse on an island in the South Pacific, a travel nursing company can likely find you a position.
3. Forensic Nurse
Forensic nurses enjoy investigating and problem-solving. They work within a variety of settings, including hospitals, psychiatric institutions, coroners’ and medical examiners’ offices, correctional facilities and in communities following natural disasters.
As a forensic nurse, you’ll assess, screen, treat and collect forensic evidence from victims. You may also be asked to testify in court about patients’ medical information and collected evidence.
4. Nurse Risk Management
This type of RN manages the risk of patients and medical facilities. In addition, they are required to educate and communicate with patients regarding treatments and possible complications.
Outside of the hospital, nurse risk managers can work within government agencies, hospice centers, long-term care facilities, consulting firms and more.
5. Nurse Recruiter
If you’ve ever had an interest in the human resources side of healthcare, nurse recruiting may be right for you. Nurse recruiters work within larger medical institutions like nursing homes and hospitals. They may also work as freelance recruiters or for recruiting firms or agencies.
Nurse recruiters are responsible for identifying, screening and hiring nursing talent, staying up-to-date on the latest job search trends, negotiating salaries and more.
6. Clinical Research Nurse
Clinical research nurses study various features of the healthcare industry to improve patient outcomes. They work in a variety of settings — including hospitals, universities, pharmaceutical companies, research laboratories and medical research organizations.
Their responsibilities include collecting samples and vitals, recruiting participants, planning and implementing daily clinical procedures and educating subjects. Along with a BSN, this job title requires several years of training in a research setting.
Going Further: Advanced Practice Opportunities Beyond a BSN
Once you’ve earned a BSN, you’ll be poised to pursue an advanced practice degree. A graduate-level degree unlocks a world of opportunity for the forward-thinking nurse. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners is projected to grow 45 percent between 2019 and 2029 — much faster than the average for all occupations. And these nursing career paths come with both prestige and high pay.
Advanced practice nurses’ scope of practice is determined on a state-by-state basis, so it varies. They work in a wide array of settings, including hospitals, doctor’s offices, nursing care facilities, schools and clinics.
These advanced practitioners often act as a liaison between doctors and patients’ families. Due to their graduate-level training, they are allowed greater decision-making authority than RNs. In many cases, they can diagnose and assess, as well as plan patients’ care.
Three common types of advanced practice nurses are nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists and nurse midwives.
Nurse practitioners can specialize in areas such as cardiology, pediatrics, family practice and women’s health, e.g. They are key patient educators and advocates, providing care independently in some settings. Depending on the state in which they practice, they can be licensed to prescribe medications as well.
Nurse midwives fulfill the role of gynecologists in many cases. They help women with contraception and regular gynecologic care, as well as all stages of pregnancy. They provide prenatal visits and exams, postpartum care for the mother and baby and assist in childbirth. Nurse midwives may work outside the hospital in women’s homes, or inside the hospital with their own practice. Their level of autonomy depends on their state and clinical setting.
Nurse anesthetists provide anesthesia to patients in a wide array of settings, including surgery. They work with patients of all ages at all levels of care.
The ABSN Program at CSP
If you have a minimum of 60 college credits, the CSP ABSN program — with locations in St. Paul, Minnesota and Portland, Oregon — will allow you to earn a bachelor’s degree in as few as 16 months. We offer three start dates per year, in January, May and September, so that you can begin your nursing education sooner.
You may be wondering how we can fit two years of traditional nursing education into 16 months. One way is to eliminate long breaks between semesters. These breaks usually result in students forgetting what they’ve learned. Omitting them helps keep students engaged from semester to semester.
In addition, our ABSN program builds on your previous college education. If you have already completed general education requirements, you can focus on our nursing-specific curriculum.
Our Educational Model
Our ABSN program follows a blended learning model. It has three components — online accelerated coursework, hands-on nursing skills and simulation labs and in-person clinical rotations.
At CSP, we employ innovative technology in nursing education. Our online learning management system (LMS) comprises a combination of lectures, quizzes, 3-D animations, interactive components, online discussion boards and more — to provide an engaging, web-based learning experience in the fundamentals of nursing.
The online portion of our program is supplemented by skills labs, which allow students to practice the nursing skills they’ve learned — such as taking vitals, dressing wounds and inserting IVs — in a hands-on, risk-free environment.
Simulation labs feature high-fidelity manikins that exhibit lifelike responses including blinking, breathing and dilating pupils. Instructors control the manikins, manipulating them to display various symptoms and gauging the student’s response to the “patients’” needs. In some cases, especially when a greater level of communication is necessary, actors serve as stand-ins for real patients, as well. These simulation labs help develop your critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
The third component of our learning model is clinical rotations. CSP has joined forces with the most respected healthcare networks to secure comprehensive, real-life patient-care experiences, as well as the opportunity to network with potential employers.
Clinical experience begins in the first semester of our ABSN program and includes diverse nursing experiences providing holistic care in a variety of settings, including:
- Adult Health
- Acute Care
- Community/Public Health
- Health Promotion/Education
In keeping with our values, these clinical rotations prepare you to care for the whole patient — in mind, body and spirit.
After completing hundreds of hours of clinical care, you’ll graduate from our 16-month ABSN program ready to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN®) — the nationwide exam that nursing graduates must pass to practice as a licensed, registered nurse.
Clinicals, like skills and simulation labs, provide a variety of opportunities to put the nursing theory lessons you learned online into practice. But with clinical rotations, the patients aren’t high-fidelity manikins — they’re real people.
At the beginning of your clinical experience, you’ll observe other nurses, documenting the care and skills needed to promote health in your patients. You’ll also learn how to handle patients safely and help them with activities of daily living (ADLs).
As your online coursework becomes more complex, so will your clinical experiences. Eventually, you’ll take on greater responsibilities, in a more direct-care role with patients.
Take the Next Step Now
Now that we’ve discussed the need for nurses, how the role of nurses is changing, what it looks like to pursue an accelerated BSN and some of the countless opportunities available to you as a nurse, the next step is up to you. Contact an admissions counselor at CSP today. Your counselor will walk you through the entire application process — evaluating your prior educational record, discussing prerequisites and mapping your path to success at CSP. Don’t hesitate. Reach out and take the next step toward a rewarding career in nursing.