What to expect as a nursing professional

A peek inside this rewarding career

Do you have a long tradition in your family of choosing nursing as a profession? Have you known since you were very young that you wanted to be a nurse, or did you make the decision recently? Have you dived deeply into research as to the type of nursing you would like to specialize in or are you still deciding? Do you have plans to stay close to home once you find a job or move to a different state?

New Practical Nursing student nametags are ready for our new class!

At Salter Nursing in Manchester, we welcomed 23 new practical nursing students on December 11th. They are enthusiastic about taking this first step onto the exciting and dynamic career path toward becoming a nursing professional. If you haven’t already, we hope you decide to step onto this path with them soon! Let’s take a closer look and give you more detail on what you might expect if you do.

A rewarding career path

Medical News Today reported in a 2016 article that a survey conducted by the American Nurses Association found nurses were seen as one of the most trusted groups of professionals in the U.S.

The nursing profession can be a very challenging AND rewarding one to choose. You are often working in high-stress situations that can be life or death. You are meeting people when they are sick and scared, and it will be your job to help take care of them while also comforting them. You will see pain and loss. Yet, you’ll also have the chance to make a difference in the lives of your patients and their families by offering the best care possible, by listening to them and treating them with respect and compassion. You’ll get to work with a dedicated team of physicians, therapists, aides and other nurses. You may have difficult work days, but you will always be able to leave work knowing that you have helped others at times when they are the most vulnerable.

Using your training

A nursing training program provides you with the knowledge and skills needed to move into the field. The responsibilities expected of nurses vary depending on degree, place of employment and specialty, but some that you might be asked to complete include:

  • Record patient medical histories
  • Provide health education and counseling to patients
  • Administer medications
  • Wound care
  • Assist physician with procedures
  • Monitor vital signs
  • Care for and monitor patients after surgical procedures
  • Supervise staff

Using your communication skills

You will be communicating with patients and co-workers on a daily basis. Nurses are often the person who relays information to physicians from the patients or patients’ family members. You will be expected to be able to do this efficiently, accurately and professionally.

Opportunity for continued learning

You might be reading this thinking that once you’re done with your nursing assistant or practical nursing program, you’ll be done with school. Or, you might be enrolled in a program and loving what you are learning so much that you want to continue your educational journey. If so, there are opportunities to gain more degrees. There are also specialty certifications that a registered nurse may complete.

The advanced degrees that are available to nurses include:

  • Associate’s Degree in Nursing
  • Bachelors of Science in Nursing
  • Masters of Science in Nursing
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice

By furthering your education through certifications and advanced degrees, you have the potential to earn more, accept more responsibility, and gain a broader range of experience.

Wide range of specialties

The Medical News Today article also stated that there are about 100 specialties for nurses. Some require additional, advanced education. Here’s a brief list of some of the specialties. Do any appeal to you?

  • ER nursing
  • Home healthcare
  • Pediatrics
  • Obstetrics and gynecology
  • Hospice
  • Geriatrics
  • Labor and delivery
  • Medical surgical care
  • Trauma
  • Radiology
  • Diabetes care
  • Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)

Types of work environments

There are many different settings in which nurses may work, including medical offices, nursing homes, hospitals, community health centers, schools, clinics, camps, and rehabilitation facilities. When you first finish your training program, you may want to work in a large, busy hospital. Or you may want to work in a small, rural physician’s office. After a few years, you may decide you would love to work as a school nurse. Each setting has its own pace and kind of work, but you will use the skills you learned in school in all of them.

A degree of flexibility

Nursing is a professional that offers a degree of flexibility in terms of your work week. There are jobs where nurses can work a traditional 8-4 shift, such as in schools or a physician’s office, but there are also plenty of opportunities to work in hospitals and nursing homes where you can work the morning, afternoon or overnight shifts. You may be able to choose to work weekends, or three 12-hour days rather than Monday through Friday. You can also potentially earn more by accepting overtime and on-call shifts. It will depend on the type of facility you choose to work in.

Job Security

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook  of the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the projected job growth rate for licensed practical nurses is 12% between 2016 and 2026, which is faster than average. It also projects the growth rate for registered nurses to be 15% between those same years, which is much faster than average. The handbook states that there are several reasons for this including the aging baby boom generation who are living longer, more active lives, and thus, need healthcare services.

The Atlantic reported that “America’s 3 million nurses make up the largest segment of the health-care workforce.” The article also cited the projected growth rate from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, but went on to state “despite that growth, demand is outpacing supply.”

This post is part of the weekly blog of the Salter School of Nursing and Allied Health, located in Manchester, NH. Find out more about our career training programs or visit us online to schedule a campus tour.