The Ultimate Guide to Nursing in 2022: a Career Guide

Nursing can be a wonderful career that allows you to make a difference. In some cases, it can also pay exceptionally well. The issue, of course, is that nursing is in a massive state of flux. While some states pay almost double the national average to their nurses in other locations, they are still very much underpaid for the work that they do.

The good news is that the shortage and pandemic have highlighted the need for reform. This reform needs to address wages, working conditions, recruitment, and also how nurses can be trained to fill in the ever-increasing needs of the populace.

You can do so much as a nurse today. Today you can earn a doctorate, become a highly in-demand specialist, and can even work for yourself or manage a clinic on your own. For highly trained nurses, the possibilities are expansive both within the public and private sectors.

There is a lot of grinding and grunt work before you can reach that stage. There are also more options than you expect, with new roles and opportunities opening up every year. It is up to you to plan out your career and commit to the steps that need to be taken in order to reach your goals.

Planning and staying motivated are two of the most important tips you can take with you throughout your career, and this guide will help you understand nursing as a whole, as well as how you can really set actionable goals for yourself starting today.

Is Nursing the Right Fit for You?

Nursing is not for everyone, but don’t be put off because working as an RN in a hospital isn’t for you. This is simply the most popular type of nurse and the version that the general public is more familiar with. You might not be suited to work as an RN, but you might thrive as an APRN. Yes, you will need to do your time as a registered nurse before you can advance your qualifications, but when you have your eye on the prize, you can push yourself through almost anything.

Doctors are not doctors because they enjoy their time in residency. Nurses, therefore, don’t have to enjoy their time as an RN.

What you do need, however, to be a nurse is the right grit. Those who find themselves drawn to nursing are natural carers who believe that healthcare should start with the patient as the focus rather than the medicine. You will want to help others and are not squeamish. Nurses do the hard job every day for the sake of others, and even if your ultimate goal is to work in another area in nursing, like nurse education or alternatively in a family clinic.

Average Salary for Nurses in the United States

The average salary for nurses depends on several factors, including:

  • Your position (RN, APRN, and even your nursing role and specialization)
  • Your experience
  • The state, city, and employer

As there are licensing requirements and the requirements change from state to state, if the wage is a primary motivator for you, then you may want to relocate before you get started with your education and training.

Understand the job prospects for nurses in each state. This is one of the best ways that you can plan your career and predict your career. If your priority is to stay where you are because that is where your family is located, then you may alternatively want to know what roles pay the highest as a reference.

At a minimum, familiarizing yourself with the average wage of the roles that you are interested in will give you greater negotiating capabilities when you are finally job hunting.

What to Expect in the Future

Nursing has always been important, and the demand will only grow. The good news is that right now, there is a lot of commotion and talk about increasing pay and benefits as a means to attract more locals to the profession. The old strategy of simply importing nurses from other countries is not sustainable. It also severely harms the communities these nurses are coming from.

The shortage isn’t just amongst nurses, either. There is a large physician shortage, and one of the key strategies to address this shortage is to use APRNs in their stead, specifically Family Nurse Practitioners.

The Nurse Practitioner sector is going to be increasingly important as time progresses and is expected to grow by 26% in the next five years alone.

Online education and the number of degree pathways available are also increasing. Online degrees and clinical placement services are crucial when it comes to increasing nurse qualifications without taking away from the workforce. Online degrees are more flexible, allowing nurses to juggle their degrees with their careers. Online degrees are now available for all levels of nursing, from BSN to doctorate-level degrees.

The final big change expected within nursing is the increased use of telehealth technology. Remote care will eventually become the norm. This norm will mean healthcare will decentralize, and higher levels of care can be offered to those in lower-income and rural areas. More patients are expected to use telehealth services, and to accommodate this increase in demand, nurses will either need to specialize in a telehealth setting or alternatively include telehealth tasks into their current workload.

Pathways to Earn Your RN Qualification

You have two main paths to earn your RN qualification.

  1. Earn an Associate’s Degree in Nursing
  2. Earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Thankfully there are different ways to earn your BSN. You can earn your ADN, become an RN, and then transfer your credits to get your BSN. You can earn your BSN full-time or part-time. You can even find integrated degrees that will help you expand your qualifications as an RN by the time you graduate.

Pathways to Earn Your APRN Qualification

To become an APRN, you will need to earn an MSN at a minimum. Unlike with the BSN, however, you won’t usually find a general MSN option. Instead, you will need to decide what role you want to specialize in. You can become a family nurse practitioner, an adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, a midwife, and so much more.

Though the specific specializations range widely, there are four main types of APRN nurses.

  1. Nurse Practitioners
  2. Clinical Nurse Specialists
  3. Nurse-Midwives
  4. Nurse Anesthetists

To earn your APRN qualification, you will first need to be confident in which role you want to specialize in. In some cases, you may even need to prove your interest with work experience. To be accepted into many midwifery programs, for example, you will need to have worked on a mother-baby unit before applying.

How to Choose the Right Nursing Specialization

Explore your options and the career opportunities within each role you are interested in. If you are not sure about what you specifically want to be doing ten or twenty years down the line, then choose a role that keeps your options open. Nursing is very flexible the higher up you go as you can work privately and publicly in many different situations, but some roles are more adaptable than others.

If flexibility and adaptability is your goal, then one of the best routes to go is to become a Family Nurse Practitioner. Not only do FNP nurses work with the widest range of patients, from babies and children to adults and seniors they can also work in a variety of settings. In some states, you can even open your own clinic and become a business owner as well as an FNP nurse.

To become an FNP, you will need to have a BSN with a 3.0 GPA and 2 years of full-time work experience as an RN. Once you have those qualifications, you can then enroll in a top online FNP MSN program and get started with an exciting new career path.

Giving yourself the time to explore your interests and where you want to work before enrolling can help you more confidently pick a great MSN for your goals. That being said, priorities change, interests change, and new roles are added every day. While FNPs are one of the most popular roles – and for a reason – you may want to change tracks or expand your skillset.

The good news is that you can. All you need is to earn a post-graduate certificate, and you will be ready to take the exam and add to your qualifications and experience.

The Role of the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact in Your Career

Roles and the privileges you have change depending on which state you are operating in, which is why it is important to always keep an eye on the enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC). If you earn your license outside of the eNLC, then you can only work in that state unless you go through a lengthy process to earn a license in another state. If you are within the eNLC, then the process is much easier.

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