Nursing is more than a job. It is a profession that attracts those who value compassion and want to do greater good in the world. Many say it is a calling because it provides a platform for making a difference in other people’s lives. The wide range of experiences that nurses encounter from birth to death can be both painful and joyous.
The profession of nursing provides endless options to practice in a variety of healthcare settings. A career in nursing provides the flexibility to choose from an array of options different from most other career choices. Nursing allows you to enter and exit the profession, work more or less than full-time, work in non-traditional settings, have around- the-clock hours, and have fluid movement among types of healthcare milieus and patient populations.
The number of nurses in the United States is estimated to be just short of 3 million (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012). Nursing is the fastest- growing occupation in the United States and is expected to grow an additional 22%, adding more than 581,000 jobs by 2018 ( Johnson & Johnson, 2015). These growth projections for the future have been based on an aging population and an aging of the current nursing workforce.
A comprehensive report can be found here: Nursing Workforce Report
The median income for nursing, stated to be $65,470, is higher than most other professions, and the nursing profession can be entered with minimal academic preparation of an associate degree (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012). As described in the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012), the outpatient arena of healthcare encounters has grown, with technological advancement over recent years creating a shift in the traditional hospital-type acute care setting. This shift has expanded the non-acute care choices for a multitude of new career options. The outpatient setting also offers a number of other benefits, including more traditional work hours without required weekend and holiday commitments.
The practice of nursing offers ample time during a lifelong career to learn new skills for advancement. A multitude of possibilities exist for a non-linear career track in various areas of specialty practice. Additionally, a variety of educational options are available for continual learning. Educational opportunities include both formal and informal course work. This array of choices is appealing to many choosing a first or alternate career. And the choice of a career in nursing often allows a planned or intentional approach to work-life balance.
Nursing is both art and science; the profession has the capacity to capture a person’s soul by experiences that may be singular in nature or combined physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual encounters. Many of these encounters will leave a lasting impression. They will not only shape a nurse’s professional practice journey but can also add positive value to a nurse’s life as a whole.
Traditional nursing practices are founded in science. Evidence-based care and compensable quality metrics are changing the practice of nursing. While nurses have always been concerned about patient outcomes, responsibility has escalated and now accountability lies in the hands of those providing direct care.
Nursing leaders’ contributions to direct care are appropriate educational preparation and the obligation to provide or ensure available resources— the people, space, supplies, and equipment for optimal care delivery.
As the healthcare environment has become more fiscally challenged, this is often much more complicated that it appears. Staffing shortages, drug recalls, equipment back orders, and space challenges often inhibit smooth transitions of care and efficient work processes. The resulting stress for nurse leaders can be overwhelming, as job expectations have drastically changed in recent years.
While nurses are qualified to use their ability to influence others’ choices about health promotion and treatment of illness, they also need to care for themselves. They are often viewed by the public as experts and are the most revered profession with the highest levels of perceived honesty and ethical standards. This standing in the public eye provides a respected voice to lead the future of healthcare, and nurses must lead first by example.
A change in thinking is required; the old-style thinking of treatment of illness needs to be replaced with mindful health. Part of being mindful relative to health is prevention of illness and an intention to be healthy. Actions speak louder than words. No change ever comes from continuing on the same path—good, bad, or otherwise.
Nursing also provides a stage to observe a variety of ethnic and cultural practices firsthand. Nurses play an important part in assisting others through challenging health and psychosocial situations. The profession offers exceptional but often testing circumstances to be thoughtfully navigated on a daily basis. Boredom is seldom used to describe a day in a nurse’s life. Each day offers a distinct experience, generally in the presence of newly introduced people.