The field of nursing has become highly specialized
over the last decade. Often you will hear nurses being
referred to as “oncology nurse,” or “pediatric
nurse.” The new field of nurse practictioner
has opened up new challenges for those interested
in this health care field.
Often nurses choose to teach in nursing colleges,
a position that also requires advanced education.
There are also many alternative opportunities for
nurses, including industrial clinics, forensics, legal
consultants, medical and pharmaceutical writers, infection
control, and midwifery.
The demand for qualified nurses has been strong --
if not intense -- over the course of the past fifteen
years. And, as will be discussed shortly within this
article, the demand for qualified and well trained
nurses is expected to increase within the coming decade.
This really is a profession that is on the rise.
Educational requirements vary greatly based on the
level of patient care and responsibility each nursing
field requires. While the nurse practictioner will
need to have advanced degrees, the practical nurse
and nursing assistant will need approximately nine
months to two years of education.
Often those with training in nursing go on to bachelor's
and master's degrees in nursing. Others often choose
to return to school for training in diagnostic and
laboratory work, such as medical diagnostic sonography
(ultrasound). Those who choose to become advanced
practice nurses will enjoy more independence but also
much more responsibility-in some states they are permitted
to act as primary health care providers and can even
prescribe medication (www.bls.gov).
When education is completed, nurses must pass a state-administered
examination that will substantiate and quantify their
training and experience. After they have passed state
board exams, they may work in their chosen subfield.
Continuing education is usually required for continuing
Salary and Benefits
Salaries and benefit packages are expected
to grow, and will vary widely according to level of
training, specialty, and experience. There are also
wage differences according to level of patient care
and responsibility, and nurses are sometimes self-employed
as nurse practictioners. Often employers are failing
to find and retain enough nurses to keep their ranks
filled, and may offer higher salaries and better benefits
to nurses with good reputations.
To help you choose a career in nursing
and medicine-or to see more detailed data on a field
you are in now-search the Occupational Outlook Handbook
at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website (www.bls.gov).
The Future of the Nursing Profession
Nurses are in great demand today. And,
most health care experts believe that the demand for
qualified nurses will only increase within the next
decade. Simply, there will be more available positions
than trained nurses.
With this in mind, if you are interested
in the profession of nursing, the future looks very
bright for you. You should be able to write your own
ticket when it comes to finding a position in the field
of nursing today and well into the future.