All the Reasons Why Nursing Is a Good Career Path

Woman smiling with text "is nursing a good career move?"

Are you wondering if nursing is a good career for you to pursue? Only you can answer that; but, if it helps you as you consider your professional future, know that with the country’s current and projected nursing shortage, there’s never been a better time to enter the field.

This is especially true if you have existing college credits or a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, in which case you can leverage your prior academic experience to earn a nursing degree sooner. (Hint: Misericordia University’s 16-month Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program may be a great option for you to do just that.)

Not to mention, there are many great reasons to become a nurse, not the least of which is the good feeling that comes with knowing you’re making a direct difference in the lives of patients and their families.

Before we get into all the reasons nursing is such a great career and nursing school is a worthy pursuit, we’ll explain the nation’s current nursing shortage to illustrate why now, more than ever, is such a great time to become a nurse.

Why Is There a Nursing Shortage?

There has been a nursing shortage in Pennsylvania and the rest of the country for some time now. That trend doesn’t seem to be reversing any time soon. Based on projections by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the country will need an additional 210,400 registered nurses each year from now through 2028.

Infographic reading "national nursing shortage: due to increased demand, it's estimated RN employment in the U.S. will grow 12% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations."

Why is this so, especially when there’s such a documented demand? Several factors play into the nation’s demand for nurses, which we’ll explore below.

Chronic health issues

Recent studies show that nearly half of all Americans suffer from at least one chronic disease, with another quarter experiencing multiple conditions. The most common among them include:

  • Hypertension
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Allergies, sinusitis, and other upper respiratory conditions
  • Arthritis
  • Mood disorders (depression and bipolar disorder)
  • Diabetes

Because an increasing number of Americans need more medical attention, visits to physicians’ offices and hospitals have risen, as have insurance costs. To help combat this issue, it’s imperative that nurses receive adequate training to care for patients with increasingly complex health issues, as well as to address the health and wellness needs of their local communities.

Aging population

Not to mention that as we age, our chances of developing any of these (or other) chronic diseases increases: Approximately 80% of older adults have at least one of the conditions listed above. This, combined with the fact that Americans are living longer, with an average life expectancy of 78.6, makes it easy to see why there is an imminent need for geriatric nursing care. This is especially true when you consider that the number of seniors in the U.S. is projected to reach 95 million by 2060.

Adding another wrinkle to this issue is the significant segment of the nursing workforce nearing retirement age. According to a 2018 survey conducted by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing and The Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers, 50.9% of the RN workforce is age 50 or older. 

Nursing school supply not meeting demand

As a result of more people requiring advanced nursing care and the large portion of nurses exiting the workforce, it is paramount that nursing schools produce enough new graduates to help fill the nursing gap.

You might then conclude that nursing schools should just accept more students to help keep up the demand. In reality, the solution is not that simple.

For example, even though the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) reported a 3.7% increase in entry-level baccalaureate programs in nursing in 2018, this growth isn’t enough to meet the projected demand for nursing services, including for nursing school faculty, researchers, and primary care providers, which require more advanced degrees.

Simply put, there aren’t enough nursing instructors nationwide to account for the number of students who want to enter the field. Coupled with an insufficient number of clinical sites and preceptors, as well as lack of classroom space and funds, it’s clear why more than 75,000 qualified applicants to baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs were turned away in 2018, according to AACN reports.

Fortunately, Misericordia University is doing its part to alleviate this shortage by offering a path to a BSN degree that can be completed in as few as 16 months. (We’ll get into how in a moment.)

Is Nursing School Worth It?

If you’re eager to enter the nursing profession sooner rather than later, an accelerated nursing program could be a great option for you, especially if you complete your education through Misericordia University’s ABSN program. If you have at least 60 non-nursing credits from an accredited institution, you could be eligible to enroll in our 16-month nursing program.

Graphic listing the reasons why Misericordia ABSN is worth it: 3 start dates per year, flexible learning options, real-world clinicals, and student support resources.

However, whether in a traditional, four-year program or an accelerated program, earning your BSN requires a major commitment, both in time and in money. You’re wise to wonder if undertaking such an academic pursuit will benefit your future career prospects. Below, we outline all the reasons accelerated nursing school, specifically at Misericordia University, is worth it.

You can start nursing school sooner than you think

Because of the high demand for nurses, it makes sense that many people are interested in transitioning into the profession. This sometimes leads to more students applying to nursing programs than there are seats available and, therefore, long waitlist periods. That could mean waiting for years — in some cases, longer than it would take you to complete your degree in the first place.

That’s why the fact that Misericordia ABSN offers three start dates per year — in January, May, and August — appeals to so many of our students, as does the ability to earn their BSN in as few as 16 months. Not to mention, Misericordia accepts students on a rolling admissions schedule, giving you even more control over when your nursing education begins.

You have flexible learning options available

Misericordia’s ABSN curriculum follows a full-time learning format that combines online coursework, hands-on nursing labs and in-person clinical rotations. While each of these components serves a vital role in your success as a nurse, many of our students say they value the online portion of our curriculum because it adds a level of autonomy to their nursing education.

Though you still must meet your assignment deadlines, the beauty of online learning is that it allows you to engage with course material at your own pace, wherever is best for you. This is great news, especially for the nearly 85% of Americans enrolled in postsecondary institutions who consider themselves “non-traditional” learners.

The Realities of Online Learning

When considering how accelerated nursing school may fit into your schedule, keep in mind:

  • You’ll be covering the same coursework at the same time as your classmates, so you must complete coursework by assigned due dates.
  • You must go to the nursing education center in Coraopolis regularly to sit for proctored exams and labs.
  • The Misericordia ABSN program is full-time, moves quickly, and compresses a rigorous curriculum into 16 months. For this reason, we recommend dedicating most of your time to nursing school while enrolled in the program.

You’ll have access to real-world clinicals in nursing school

No other portion of your accelerated nursing school education prepares you more for the ins and outs of the profession than do clinical rotations. As a Misericordia ABSN student, you can expect clinicals to begin your second semester and take place at top hospitals and health care providers around the Pittsburgh metro area.

Clinical rotations don’t just give you a realistic sense of a nurse’s schedule. They also give you valuable experience learning how to communicate with patients, their families, and other members of their care team, as well as how to perform safe therapeutic interventions in diverse real-world clinical settings, including:

  • Adult health
  • Community health
  • Mental health
  • Obstetrics
  • Pediatrics

Nursing faculty and instructors will be there to support you

The Misericordia University ABSN program makes it possible to earn a BSN in as few as 16 months. But just because you’ll spend less time in nursing school doesn’t mean you’ll receive any less of a nursing education. You’ll still learn everything you would in a traditional, four-year program — it’s just condensed into a shorter timeframe. That means you’ll have to stay even more disciplined and dedicated to your nursing studies to succeed.

Academic rigor aside, what makes our ABSN program so worth the investment is our commitment to helping students succeed. Between our academic success coaches, who can help you develop strategies for reaching your goals, and our highly experienced instructors, who are available to answer your questions in person and online, you will be far from alone in nursing school.

Questions to ask when choosing a nursing school

For more insight on choosing a program, we offer these questions to ask yourself when choosing a nursing school.

Is Nursing a Good Career?

Even with knowing about the current demand for highly skilled RNs in the U.S. and all the ways the Misericordia ABSN program is helping curtail the nation’s shortage, you still may be wondering whether nursing is the right fit for your professional future. We get it. After all, pursuing a BSN is a major decision requiring a significant investment in time, dedication, and money.

The ABSN program list the benefits of a nursing career as a chance to make a difference, well-paying job stability, work scheduling flexibility, career growth opportunities, and exciting, engaging work.

To help you decide if nursing is a good career fit for you, we’ve outlined five reasons to become a nurse.

1. Nurses make a comfortable living

Because of the national shortage mentioned earlier, it’s no surprise nurses, especially those with a BSN degree, enjoy good pay and job security. It’s also worth mentioning that with the level of upward mobility in the profession you can expect when you earn such a degree, you have the potential to earn a lot over time in the field.

According to the BLS in 2018, the average annual salary for registered nurses in Pennsylvania is $71,410.

The mean registered nurse salary in Pennsylvania was $71,410 in 2018, according to BLS reports. Other more advanced degrees pay even more. In the Keystone state, nurse anesthetists earned an average of $174,240, while nurse practitioners earned an average of $101,950 in 2018.

2. Nurses make a difference

If you ask most RNs, “Why did you choose nursing as a career?” their top reason will likely not be the paycheck. Many will tell you that nursing is much more than a way to pay the bills. As much as nursing is financially rewarding work, it also comes with great personal reward: You get to make a difference. Most nurses agree that the best part about entering the profession is the ability to help those in need and change lives.

Besides helping patients heal from physical wounds, overcome chronic illnesses, and avoid disease, nurses help patients and their families through emotionally challenging times. Nursing is such rewarding work because it allows you to connect with patients individually — during some of the most challenging times of their lives, no less — and develop care plans to help them succeed.

Put another way: You’ll be hard-pressed to find any other career with the same job description or intangible job benefits.

Misericordia ABSN’s Caring Curriculum

Because Misericordia University is a faith-based institution, ABSN students earn a degree framed within the context of the heartfelt mission of its founders, the Sisters of Mercy. Every aspect of our program is designed to help you embody the heart of mercy — that is, understand the importance of providing ethical, safe, and humanistic care in a rapidly expanding health care system, and learn about the importance of holistic healing.

3. Nursing is exciting work

If you’re looking for a stare-at-your-computer-for-eight-hours-a-day type job, nursing is not the career path for you. Another aspect of what makes nursing such a rewarding career is the excitement that comes with the unpredictability of what each day will bring.

Every patient you encounter will come to you with a different story, set of symptoms, and, therefore, require a different care plan. As a nurse, you’ll get to flex your creative and problem-solving muscles every day, all for the benefit of your patients.

On a broader scale, nurses also serve on the frontline of medical innovation. The health care landscape is always changing, with new research and technologies coming about all the time, so there will always be opportunities for professional development and evolution within your role.

4. Nurses have flexible work scheduling options

Because most health care employers need nurses 24/7/365, you’ll likely have plenty of luck finding a position that fits your lifestyle. If you’re a working parent who wants to work 12-hour shifts three days a week, which is common for hospital and emergency room nurses, it’s often possible. If you prefer to work nights and pick up extra shifts on the weekends, there’s likely an employer that offers that as an option, too.

Or, if you’d rather keep a standard 9–5 work schedule, there are plenty of nursing positions outside the hospital, too. For example, school nurses enjoy the same scheduling as students, which often means weekday daytime shifts with weekends, holidays, and summer breaks off.

5. Nurses have many opportunities for career growth

If you desire a career path with opportunities for career advancement, nursing is a profession to consider. While possible to enter the field with an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN), you’ll have many more doors open for you if you earn a BSN.

That’s because BSN degree programs, such as offered by Misericordia University, go beyond the bedside and clinical skills training taught in ADN programs. As a student in our ABSN program, you’ll learn valuable critical-thinking skills and gain a breadth of knowledge on everything from cultural and economic issues that lead to community-wide health issues to the merits of evidence-based practice.

With a BSN in hand, employers will see you as a leader in the field, setting you up for management opportunities, if that’s what you desire. Additionally, should you decide to pursue a higher-paying advanced practice nursing position that requires a master’s degree in nursing — such as nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, or nurse midwife — you’ll need to obtain your BSN first.

Infographic depicting examples of advancing your nursing career with a BSN from Notre Dame such as, nurse anesthetist, nurse practitioner, and nurse midwife.

Nursing Career Paths

While the majority of nurses work in hospitals, there are many workplace options beyond the bedside, such as outpatient clinics, long-term care settings, health insurance companies, and in patients’ homes. However, if a hospital setting is what you have your heart set on for your nursing career, myriad specialty areas become available to you once you earn your BSN.

No matter your workplace preferences, you’re bound to find a setting that appeals to you. Below, we explore the different directions your nursing career can take, both inside and outside the hospital.

Nursing career options inside the hospital

More than 60% of nurses reported working at state, local, and private hospitals in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, so it’s likely your nursing job search will begin at one of them.

However, that’s not to say all hospital nursing positions are the same. The opposite is actually much closer to the truth. What an emergency room nurse experiences during a routine shift is going to look a lot different from that of a nurse who works in the intensive care unit, or even the labor and delivery floor.

That’s why, as a Misericordia University ABSN student, you’ll get the chance to “try on” various nursing practice areas often found inside hospitals through clinical rotations at top area health care facilities, including:

  • Adult health
  • Community health
  • Mental health
  • Obstetrics
  • Pediatrics

Nursing career options outside the hospital

Of course, with a BSN, your nursing career aspirations aren’t limited to just hospitals. A bachelor’s degree in nursing paves the way for you to explore other alternative nursing careers in a number of workplace settings. Plus, because a BSN degree covers a more comprehensive curriculum compared to an associate’s degree, you’ll have the chance to take on more job responsibilities earlier in your career than your ADN-educated peers, such as supervising other nurses.

As far as specific nursing sectors go, a BSN also grants you access to roles beyond the bedside. Flight nurse, travel nurse, home health nurse, informatics nurse, and legal nurse consultant are just a few of the many career paths you can pursue once you earn your BSN. With a bachelor’s degree in nursing, you can also become a:

  • Public health nurse, working with entire communities to educate about health issues and increase access to care.
  • Nurse life-care planner, collaborating with insurance companies and physicians to determine the needs and prospective costs of medical care for patients.
  • Forensic nurse consultant, collecting evidence, providing medical testimony, and collaborating with legal authorities on cases involving physical assault or accidental death.
  • Telemedicine nurse, providing remote care to patients with chronic conditions or limited mobility using video and computers. (Given the COVID-19 pandemic, this is a nursing career that’s expected to take off in the coming years).
  • Correctional nurse, providing care for patients in prisons and other detention centers.
  • Nurse recruiter, working on the human resources side of health care and helping fill positions to close the nursing gap.
What Can I Do with My Nursing Degree? 10 Options In and Out of the Hospital

Nursing Offers Many Career Choices
Read this post to learn about 10 more viable job options for BSN degree holders, both inside and outside the hospital.

Get on the Faster Path to a Rewarding Nursing Career

There has never been a better time to change paths to nursing. Your skills and expertise be in high demand, meaning you’ll likely have little trouble finding a position once you earn your nursing degree and pass the licensure exam. As a nurse, you can also expect to make a comfortable living in a field with flexible scheduling options.

But, nursing is so much more than a job. By becoming a nurse, you’ll be entering into an exciting and rewarding field that allows you to connect with people in need and make a real difference in their lives.

If you’re ready to pursue this in-demand profession and want to learn more about how the Misericordia ABSN program can help you transition into the field in as few as 16 months, reach out to one of our admissions counselors by completing this form.

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