The Pros and Cons of Nursing (page 2)
ONE NURSE'S pro is another's con. If you love to interact with people, you can choose psychiatric nursing; if not, you may prefer perioperative nursing. Nursing is such a versatile profession that there's something in it for almost everyone. But nursing isn't for everyone. It can often be as challenging as it is rewarding. Weigh the good with the bad to see if nursing sounds like the career for you.
Nurses are in demand, and there are abundant job opportunities, good salaries, and decent benefits to prove it. Nursing also allows for flexible scheduling, interesting specialties, and a variety of job settings, topped off with plenty of room for advancement. But the biggest advantage to being a nurse is the satisfaction that comes from knowing you make a difference in people's lives.
Nurses Are in Demand
It's a fact of life. Almost everyone gets sick at some point in their life, making nursing a recession-resistant profession. And nurses are in short supply. A January 6, 2009 Associated Press article noted that the nursing industry is frantic for hires. One company lavished registered nurses with free champagne and a trivia contest hosted by game show veteran Chuck Woolery. Prizes included a one-year lease for a 2009 SUV, a hotel stay, and dinners.
Post-secondary education is an investment, regardless whether you complete a one-year program at a vocational school or a four-year degree at an Ivy League university. Nursing makes that investment pay off. It is not unusual for nursing students to have jobs waiting for them when they graduate. Lamar University boasts 100% employment within six months for their nursing students, and 98% of their senior nursing students have job offers before graduation.
Numerous Job Opportunities
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the need for RN employment will grow considerably faster than the average for all occupations through 2016, resulting in many new jobs. Registered nurses should generate 587,000 new jobs, among the largest number of new jobs for any occupation. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of job openings will appear as experienced nurses leave the occupation. The job growth rate is predicted to be highest in private and public hospitals, physician offices, home healthcare, outpatient centers, mental health centers, employment services, and nursing care facilities.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the same employment boom for practical nurses, with a 14% growth between now and 2016. Job prospects are expected to be very good, depending on the industry, because, like RN positions, applicants will be needed to replace those LPNs who are leaving the occupation. Most LPN opportunities will be in nursing care facilities due to the numbers of older persons and people with disabilities and in home health agencies because of the increasing number of aging people with functional disabilities who prefer to be treated at home and who can because of new technology.
On one day in early 2009, Medhunters.com listed 4,023 nursing jobs in 17 different nursing areas. Acute care nurses topped the list with 967 openings, followed by advanced practice nurses (786 openings), critical care nurses (456 openings), and nursing management (474 openings). Numbers and types of jobs vary by location, but you still can find jobs, be they urban, suburban, or rural.
Opportunities for Career Advancement
Advancement opportunities abound. LPNs can become charge nurses, particularly in long-term care facilities. However, most advancement opportunities exist for RNs. You can climb the administration ladder and become a nurse manager or supervisor, often without additional education. You can also pursue a graduate degree to move to the top of the heap and become a director of nursing or you can choose to become an advanced practice nurse. Advanced practice nursing requires a master's degree at this point, but the American Association of Colleges of Nursing raised the bar, and the doctor of nursing practice will be the required degree in 2015. You can also choose to become a nurse educator, which also requires additional education if you wish this to be your full-time career.
But advancement does not always mean moving up; you can also make lateral moves. Your nursing license allows you to move among nursing specialties. Six months to a year of acute care experience is often enough to get a job in critical care or emergency nursing. You can also literally move. Nurses who work with nurse-for-hire agencies can hospital shop and work at various locations, often making good money and getting to work the hours of their choosing. If that's not enough movement, you can become a travel nurse, which allows you to work at your own pace and make your own decisions. Travel nursing also allows you to work in your own hometown or hundreds of miles away.
Travel nursing was listed as one of the Top Five Hot Careers in Nursing by AllNursingSchools.com in January 2009. The other four were military nursing, forensic nursing, legal nurse consulting, and surgical nursing. As the demand for nurses rises, so does the realization of how nurses fit into less typical settings.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the median annual earnings of LPNs at $36,550 in May 2006, with the middle 50% of LPNs earning between $31,080 and $43, 640. The highest 10% earned more than $50,480, while the lowest 10% earned $26,380. Median salaries per job location in May 2006 were:
|nurse care facilities||$38,320|
|home healthcare agencies||$37,880|
The Advance for LPNs 2008 LPN Salary Survey broke down salaries by state. Alaskan LPNs made top dollar at $29 per hour, but the survey creators advised that there were only four respondents from Alaska. LPNs in the Northeast fared best, with Connecticut LPNs earning as much as $25.28 per hour. States with the lowest hour rates included Alabama ($16.93), Nebraska ($15.75), North Dakota ($15.00), and Idaho ($14.67).
The U.S. Census Bureau's 2006 National Survey shows that RNs can earn about $15,000 more per year than LPNs. According to Allnursing schools.com, LPNs with 15 years until retirement can earn an additional $25,000 if they simply invest another 12 months in completing an online LPN-to-RN program.
For RNs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports median annual earnings of $57,280 in May 2006. The middle 50% of RNs earned between $47,710 and $69,850, while the top 10% earned more than $83,440, and the bottom 10%, less than $40, 250. Median RN salaries per job location in May 2006 were:
|nurse case facilities||$58,550|
|home healthcare agencies||$54,190|
The Advance Salary Survey 2008 listed the average RN nursing salary at $56,785. Not all states participated, but of those that did, California had the highest state average at $71,474, followed by New York ($63,132) and Delaware ($61,679). The states with the lowest salaries were Alabama ($47,688), Maine ($46,127), and Tennessee ($43,820).
Advanced degrees mean higher salaries that vary per practice type. Advance for Nurse Practitioners 2007 National Salary Survey showed that the average NP salary was $81,397. Pay Scale Inc. had average salaries for nurse midwives and nurse anesthetists. Nurse midwives who were in practice for less than a year earned an average $57,767 and those who practiced 10 to 19 years earned $48,000 (yes, the more experienced ones earned less). Nurse anesthetists earn the most with those practicing less than one year earning an average of $113,728 and those in practice for 20 years or more earning $141,578.