To Nurse or Not To Nurse: Is That the Question?

To Nurse or Not To Nurse: Is That the Question?
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Keith Carlson February 24, 2015

When deciding whether or not to pursue a career as a professional nurse, there are a number of questions to consider. Learn from Noodle expert Keith Carlson about where to begin.

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People choose nursing for many reasons, and recognizing your aspirations and motivations is helpful before taking the plunge. It’s also important to take a clear-headed look at the job market to understand how — and if — this professional pathway will serve you well.

Nursing in the 21st Century

Nursing is a profession that has seen enormous growth in both its breadth and depth in the last several decades. While the public may still not completely understand the range of nursing roles, those who consider the profession can and should dig deeply to explore the different pathways in nursing.

Twenty-first century nursing is no longer limited to working on the floor of an inpatient hospital unit. Nurses work in home health, hospice, occupational health, long-term care, and corporate settings. They serve as researchers, educators, Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs), nurse entrepreneurs, informatics specialists, and in other roles. They work as travel nurses throughout the United States, as military nurses abroad, and as doctoral members of health care teams. The options and expertise of nurses today are unsurpassed in the profession’s history.

Understanding the Demands

If you feel called to nursing, it’s important to ask yourself if you are ready and able to tackle the demands of nursing education, whether you’re beginning as an undergraduate, a second-degree nursing student, or at the graduate level. The classes are rigorous, the clinical assignments are challenging, and students are often balancing other responsibilities in college, family, or work life. In addition to each specific program’s coursework, there may be prerequisites that prospective students need to fulfill, financial aid to apply for, time management to work out, and degree program options to weigh.

Seeking Guidance

As you consider whether to apply to nursing school, seek the advice of practicing nurses to ask about their educational and professional experiences. These inquiries can arise informally through friends or neighbors, or you can request an informational interview with nurses who work at local health care facilities. There are also meetups where you can pose questions to current nursing students. Finally, research the job prospects and projected employment growth in your local region or in areas where you would consider relocating.

Joining a Trusted Profession

Identified as the most trusted professionals in every Gallup poll for more than a decade, nurses enjoy an unprecedented level of credibility with the American public. This trust and good will, coupled with the growth of nursing education pathways, has enabled nurses to move into positions of increasing autonomy and prominence.

The choice to become a nurse is an important decision indeed, and due diligence is
your ally in this endeavor. Be thorough in your investigation, talk to as many knowledgeable people as you can, and make the decision that suits your needs, lifestyle, personality, motivations, and goals.

_Use Noodle to look for the right nursing school or read more about whether you should go to nursing school._

About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle. He has been managing editor of the website for over four years.

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