Nurses are in demand more than ever. So if you’re looking to change careers, here’s why you should consider a career in nursing.
Right now, there are over 4 million nurses in the US. However, due to the current healthcare environment and the fact that people are living longer lifespans, more nurses are still needed. The number of nurse jobs are expected to explode in the next decade, with some statistics showing that over 400,000 new nurses will be needed by 2024!
The dynamic growth of the nursing profession
One of the reasons for the nursing care demand is that both the general population and the nurse population are aging. Therefore, we need a lot of newer nurses to care for patients. Nurse Educators and Nurse Administrators are two of the most in-demand careers at this time.
More information about nursing education and salaries
At the moment (as you can see in the below infographic), the cost of getting a master’s degree in nursing can range from $20,000 to over $60,000 depending on the school and the field chosen. However, many nurses are making a great living with the salaries they earn after graduation.
In 2015 I became a nurse blogger. This venture was born out of my frustration with burnout as a registered nurse and my desire to create a more flexible work-life balance.
For clarity, my niche (or at least the niche I am striving to create) is: “nurse mom lifestyle blogger with an emphasis on self-care and wellness.” My goal has always been to write about things that interest me in regards to nurse lifestyle and living a healthier, more purposeful life (with a little mom stuff thrown in).
I have been chipping away on my nurse blogging journey for about a year, and my (self-proclaimed) title has evolved a bit. I’m sure it will continue to change as I work to find my “voice.”
To explain how I became a nurse blogger, I have to take you back in time a bit…
Once upon a time, I studied journalism.
Way, way back in the day, before I ever even considered becoming a registered nurse, I was a striving college student at California State University, Chico. As a journalism major with a minor in women’s studies, I wrote for our student newspaper, The Orion, and I loved it. Each week I met with other writers to discuss ideas and topics that were going to write about that week. I enjoyed the teamwork and even though I felt way in over my head a lot of the time I absolutely loved the challenge.
Each week I met new and interesting people I would have otherwise crossed paths with. I interviewed athletes, a magician, doctors from the student health center, professors, and lots and lots of students. One time I interviewed a woman who made and sold her own essential oils and she gave me a few samples to take home with me. My 21-year-old brain was fascinated with the people I met.
The internet was in its earlier stages and many people still read the newspaper in print form. So, each Thursday I looked forward to walking on campus and picking up a copy of The Orion to find my name listed above my article.
A bad internship altered my career path.
I loved journalism. But my emphasis was in public relations, which I disliked immensely.
One summer break, I did a 3-month internship at a celebrity public relations firm in Los Angeles. I worked as an assistant to the president of the firm. He had me ghostwriting about how he was like Abraham Lincoln. If that sounds weird, it is because it was. I hated it. I felt used.
At the end of my 3-month internship, I left Los Angeles feeling like I wanted to go in a completely different direction. As I drove back up to Chico to complete my senior year, I considered new career options.
As graduation etched closer, I also started wondering how I was going to survive financially out in the world. The thought of paying my own way in the world and paying off my student loans filled me with worry.
I went from inspired writer to salesperson.
After graduation, I excepted a position selling medical equipment to hospital operating rooms. I thought it was best to follow the path that I thought lead to faster money. Frankly, it did.
Soon I became enveloped in the business of medical equipment sales. And unfortunately, I didn’t write again for another 9 years.
Medical device sales is an extremely competitive and stressful industry. But I continued to work hard. In fact, I was actually very good at my job. I consistently exceeded my yearly quotas. As a result, I made more money every year, which made it harder and harder to move into other more clinical roles.
I wanted to grow clinically and help my patients directly.
Those who know me, know that I’m not even the “salesy” type. However, I did enjoy talking about medical equipment that could improve the quality of life for our patients or even be life-saving in some circumstances. I didn’t realize it at the time, but what I really wanted was to be an actual healthcare professional who worked with patients directly.
(On reflection, I am so am grateful for my time in medical sales and I want to go back to work on the business side of healthcare at some point. My experiences have given me a much different perspective than many of my nurse peers. Working in the medical sales industry gave me valuable business and communication skills. I met a lot of great friends with whom I still have close relationships with. My organizational and time management skills are much more fine-tuned and I learned how to be a professional in the workplace. I just think of myself as being a little more well-rounded now!)
Just for fun, I toyed around with so many career ideas.
I took an amazing photography class in Venice (I’ll be a professional photographer! Yay!). I love practicing yoga so I thought becoming an instructor would be a great fit (I’ll become the next big yoga guru!). I even considered becoming a professional dog walker at one point and started writing a business plan! (Dogs are awesome, what can I say?).
After years of thinking about my professional future (and having several near mental breakdowns about it), I jokingly told my husband that maybe I should go back to nursing school. He responded with something like “you can do anything you want, but please do something because you might lose your mind!”
So, I did. And I have been working as a nurse at a major teaching facility for the last 6 years.
I went back to college for a second time.
After three years of nursing school, I graduated with a bachelor of science in nursing and I had a whole new journey ahead of me. I began my career specializing on a neuroscience and stroke unit and earned certifications as a Stroke Certified Registered Nurse and Public Health Nurse. In 2017, I began a new phase in my nursing career as an emergency room RN.
I also complimented my practice by becoming an Urban Zen Integrative Therapist. My intention was to help treat my patients with a more holistic approach using yoga and in-bed movements, guided meditation, Reiki, and essential oils. (I didn’t know at the time, but these were topics that I would write about frequently as a nurse blogger!).
An itch to write came back again.
A few years into my nursing career I had an urge to write again. I missed the creatively I had when writing back in my early college days. In addition, I wanted to create a more flexible career path for myself now that I am a busy mom with two great kiddos.
I also really do have a passion for nursing. I love that I help others for a living and I enjoy the mental stimulation I get at work during my 12-hour shifts. Becoming a nurse has even helped me deal with the craziness of motherhood in some ways because it helps me distinguish things that I should be concerned with things that are not a big deal. (I have my time on a neuroscience floor and as an ER nurse to thank for that!)
Becoming a nurse blogger was a logical next step. I am having so much fun learning how to make and manage a website. However, since I am already a busy ER nurse with two small babies I am very limited on time. I only have 5-6 hours a week to spend on the blog. But as my kids grow older and go to school the time will be there. Until then, I will just keep chipping away at it after the kids go to bed in the evenings.
A nursing practice can take many forms.
As I grow older (and hopefully wiser!) I am discovering that there are so many paths that nurses can take. The sky really is the limit as long as you work hard and are open to continually learning new skills.
My goal is to create a career for myself were I can combine my journalism degree with my nursing knowledge and motherly experience. This is the first “career” I have ever had where I didn’t have to fill out an extensive application and interview for the position. For the very first time, I am warming to the idea of being my OWN boss. And I really like it!
Never in a million years would my 21-year-old college-newspaper-writing- self would have guessed that I would be a nurse blogger. But every experience I have had up until now has been an important stepping stone to this place. And I have goosebumps just thinking about what I can make happen next. Stay tuned for more…
There are so many different types of nurses in various specialties that work within the hospital setting. So how do you figure out which one is right for you?
When I was initially toying with the idea of going back to college to become a nurse, I had no idea how many types of nursing specialties there were. I thought there was just a single “type” of nurse who did pretty much everything.
I was so wrong. That just shows how little I knew about the nursing world back then! I think many potential nurses who are contemplating getting a BSN may think the same thing as I once did.
The good news about starting in nursing school is that you don’t have to decide on what type of nursing specialty you want to go into right away. At least not until you get closer to the end of nursing school and start interviewing for jobs. Also, you can even change your nursing specialty during your career if you want (I did it and reignited my passion for nursing). So, if you find you don’t enjoy one specialty after a while, you can look into others that might better suit you.
This particular post explores nursing career specialties within the hospital. If you don’t want to work in the hospital, that’s OK. There are a ton of opportunities to explore as a new grad nurse outside of the hospital setting too! However, if the hospital setting is for you (as it was for me), then this is a quick and dirty explanation of the different types of nurses and nursing specialties that may be available to you!
There are dozens of different nursing specialties and levels of care in the hospital to choose from. When deciding on a specialty, it may help to start with the level of care that works best with your personality and then work from there. While some nursing students think the intensity of working in an emergency room might be exhilarating, others may prefer to start by learning on a medical-surgical unit instead.
The next step may be to consider which patient age groups you would most enjoy working with. For example, a nursing school friend of mine knew from the moment she applied to nursing school that she had to be a pediatric nurse. Yet another student friend was passionate about working in the geriatric community. Some nurses find that they love working with newborn babies or children, while others find that they enjoy the intensity of managing patients at the ICU level of care.
Lastly, as you start studying more about the different body systems and doing clinical hours, you can decide which specialties that you are most interested in. Being a student nurse is a great time to learn all about the different types of nurses in the hospital you might want to work in!
If you are interested in learning more about the types of nurses that in the higest demand, check out this video:
Types of nurses, based on credentials:
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
LPNs perform a number of duties under the supervision of an RN. They have a more limited scope of practice than an RN, however, they can check vital signs, give oral medication and give injections. LPNs are trained through a state-approved educational program, which takes 12 to 24 months to achieve.
Registered Nurse (RN)
Registered nurses (RNs) are nurses with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. It takes two years to complete an associate’s degree in nursing and at least 4 years to complete a BSN.
Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
A clinical nurse specialist (CNS) is an experienced nurse who has also completed a master’s degree in nursing. CNS’s are trained in diagnosing and treating illnesses within a specific realm of expertise.
Nurse Practitioner (NP)
NPs work under the supervision of a medical doctor, however, they have the autonomy to diagnose diseases, prescribe medications, and initiate patient treatment plans. Educational requirements include a master’s or doctoral degree.
Levels of care in the hospital setting
Medical-Surgical Care, otherwise known as Med/Surg, is the largest nursing specialty in the United States. Med/Surg nurses care for adult patients who are acutely ill with a wide variety of medical issues or are recovering from surgery. Nurses on these units often care for 4-5 patients (or more) depending on acuity.
Telemetry Unit patients are often more acutely ill and need constant monitoring. Patients here are monitored with telemetry monitors that allow nurses to review a patient’s vital signs constantly so they can give more detailed care. Often, Med/Surg and Telemetry patients are referred to interchangeably as many Telemetry Units have both types of patients.
Intensive Care Units
An Intensive Care Unit, otherwise known as an ICU or Critical Care Unit is a unit that provides a higher level of intensive patient care. Patients in the ICU often have severe and life-threatening injuries that require constant, close monitoring. Nurses in the ICU usually only care for 1 or 2 patients at a time due to the high acuity of patient care.
ER nurses treat patients in emergent situations who are involved in a trauma or other life-threatening injuries. These nurses deal with patients from all age groups involving many different levels of patient care. You may have patients with illnesses and wounds, ranging from dog bites or minor burns to more serious conditions such as strokes or other trauma victims.
Patient age groups
Hospital units are also broken into different age groups to offer more specialized care. This is also something to consider when deciding on a specialty you want to work in. Some of the age groups include:
Here is a general list of hospital specialty units that many nurses work in:
What nursing jobs are you most interested in?
As you can see from the above information, there are so many different types of nurses and nursing specialties. You may want to pick a few that are most interesting to you and narrow your search in from there. Once you get your legs wet in the profession for a few years, you may even want to look into other alternative and unique careers in nursing.
Now that you have a better understanding of the different career options out there for nurses, you may want to brush up on your interviewing skills. Let us help you achieve that with this article “How To Land Your First Nursing Job In Six Steps.”
Are you thinking about becoming a nurse and wondering what nursing specialties might be best for you? Or do you have any other questions about the different types of nurses in the hospital setting? Please leave a comment or question below!
In March 2013, I graduated from college with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing- and a $36,000 tab.
For my first 2 years out of nursing school, I made the minimum student loan debt payment of about $420 a month. But when I finally sat down and looked at how much of that was going towards interest and how long it would take to finally pay off (13 years, yikes!) it made me sick to my stomach.
After the birth of our daughter, I decided to get aggressive about paying off my student loans.
By that time I was down to $27,000. Becoming a Mom made me realize that being debt-free AND having money in my bank account was way more important than spending money on stuff I didn’t need.
Prior to starting my BSN, I had pretty nice savings account set aside. Because of that, I was able to pay for 1 year of my prerequisite classes and the first few months of my nursing program upfront in cash. If it wasn’t for that I would have had well over 50K in student loan debt at graduation.
While I was on maternity leave, I started listening to financial podcasts specifically focused on paying off debt. Most of this was done while my daughter and I went out for walks and she was napping. It motivated me to change my thoughts about my current student loan status.
I took everything I had learned from those podcasts and formed my own simple plan: Don’t spend any money on anything that is not an actual need. At that time, my true needs included grocery shopping, pet food, and nanny. That’s it.
How I Paid Off All My Nursing School Loan Debt In 9 Months!
My Student Loan Payoff Plan: Pay off $27,000 in student loan debt from February 1 to November 1, 2016.
I am happy to announce that I hit my goal right on target! Here is how I paid $27,000 off student loan debt in 9 months:
I realized that student loan debt is NOT good debt.
There is no such thing as good debt. I don’t care if there is a 0% interest rate. Debt is debt. It is still a black cloud handing over your head that never goes away unless you force it to.
I trimmed my budget.
This photo was taken halfway through my payoff schedule.
So long $5 Starbucks coffee (lucky for me my husband loves to make great coffee at home). Bye-bye restaurant meals. Farewell clothing budget.
I also forbade manicures and pedicures (unless done by me). Also, I cooked all of our meals at home, packed all my lunches for work and made all my daughter’s baby food.
If there was something that I thought I needed but wasn’t sure, I gave myself a week to think it over. Even if it was something small. 99% of the time I ended up deciding that it wasn’t important enough to buy.
When I met with friends, instead of going to lunch, we would go for walks or to the park. Fortunately, this is easy when you have babies.
I contributed 90% of my paychecks to my loans.
After taxes, retirement and taking out money to pay the nanny, I took the rest and threw it at my loans. It was anywhere from $1500 to $3500 every 2 weeks depending on how many shifts I worked.
I did the math to figure out my payoff date.
I started on March 1st, 2016 and my goal was to be completely paid in full by November 1, 2016. To make sure I stayed on track I planned a celebratory family trip to Palm Springs for the 2nd week of November.
I listened to financial podcasts to keep me focused and motivated.
As a new mom, it is hard to find time to read books or search the internet for resources on paying off student loans. Listening to financial podcasts was my single most important way to motivate myself during this process. I could multitask by listening to them while out for walks with my daughter.
Some of the podcasts I listened to included Paula Pant at Afford Anything, The Money Guys, Stacking Benjamin’s and Dave Ramsey.
I picked up a few extra shifts at the hospital.
As a per diem float nurse I have the option of working as much or little as I want. For the purpose of paying off my loans as fast as possible, I tried to work at least 3 shifts a week. Since I was a new mom I didn’t want to go overboard though. The reason a became a nurse was so I could spend more time at home once we had children.
I made many short term sacrifices and got used to being uncomfortable.
No longer was I spending money on anything that wasn’t a necessity. I did this by taking a look at the things I could reasonably live without. This was the first time in my life I stopped buying clothes and shopping for things I didn’t need. To my own surprise, I’m still alive. In some ways, life is actually easier now because I don’t have a ton of extra stuff hanging around cluttering my house. I spend the time I would have spent shopping on doing other things that are more important to me.
After I became debt-free I kept my new lifestyle so that I could keep saving and investing at a significantly larger rate.
My motivation for paying off all my nursing school student loan debt.
While this is not a repayment strategy, it does help me find the motivation to continue down the right financial pathway now that my loans are gone. Having money in the bank is so much better than having debt. It feels amazing! And my savings gap gets bigger and bigger every month because I focus on growing my assets instead of buying unnecessary stuff that will probably end up in a dump in 5 years anyway.
Advice for anyone going to college:
Get the best education you can while spending the least amount of money possible.
Don’t take out more loans then you need to.
Live as frugally as you can while in school. It’s temporary and you will thank yourself for it in the long run.
Make an aggressive plan to pay off your student loans as soon as you graduate.
Don’t be the sucker who spends their entire life paying off student loans. They will NEVER go away if you don’t make them, even if you file for bankruptcy.
Do you have student loan debt? If you work hard and focus on what is actually important in your life, living student loan debt-free can be a reality for you too. Now get to it!