The United States is running out of nurses. In fact, the Atlantic Monthly as reported that by 2025, the shortfall is expected to be "more than twice as large as any nurse shortage experienced since the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid in the mid-1960s."
Clearly, the opportunities in this field are abundant and you are interested in becoming a nurse, but maybe you've heard some things that have given you pause. Don't let these common misconceptions about the profession stop you.
Let's set the record straight and dispel a few of them right here, so you can make an informed decision about a future in this vibrant, exciting profession.
Being a nurse limits future career moves.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Our healthcare system is expanding rapidly, creating myriad opportunities for specialization throughout the industry. The fact is, nursing is an incredibly diverse field rife with alternative jobs for RNs who want to advance their careers, work in non-clinical settings, or use their knowledge and experience to teach others.
Although a majority of RNs begin their professional pursuits in hospitals, medical facilities, and other clinical environments, many choose to make a mid-career switch into areas that do not involve hands-on patient care.
You can choose to become a nurse educator and make a career of teaching and inspiring other healthcare professionals. You might specialize in nursing informatics to deliver and coordinate improved care across multiple settings. If you have strong people skills, organizational prowess, and business knowledge, you can pursue a future in nursing leadership and management.
If you literally want your career to take off, perhaps you’ll become a flight nurse and accompany patients while they are being transported in airplanes or helicopters!
The point is, with the right education and training, you can drive your nursing career (or fly it) in any direction you choose.
Nursing jobs don't pay well.
This misconception simply isn't trued. In May 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the median annual salary for registered nurses was $73,550, and the best-paid 10 percent of RNs made more than $104,000. You can earn even more if you live in certain large metropolitan areas like San Francisco ($139,700), Boston ($97,130), or New York ($90,840).
Nursing also offers you the freedom and flexibility to continue your education and drive your career into a specialized area of nursing where salaries can be even higher. Some of the highest paying nursing careers are open to those who earn additional certifications and/or an advanced degree.
Do your homework, do the math, and you’ll discover nursing offers a career path with staying power and strong earning potential.
Nursing is a career for women.
While it’s true that from a historical standpoint, RNs have typically been women, a paper published in the Washington Center for Equitable Growth states that since 1960, men have entered the field of nursing in increasing numbers and as of 2015 represented 13% of nursing professionals overall. The study also reveals that nearly half of nurse anesthetists, one of the highest-paying nursing jobs, are men.
A recent New York Times article concludes that nursing is a job of the future for men. “Forget about the stigma,” said Jorge Gitler, an oncology nurse and former business owner, in an interview for the article. “The pay is great, the opportunities are endless, and you end up going home every day knowing that you did something very positive for someone else.”
Nurses merely follow a doctor's orders.
The roles of doctors and nurses are distinctly different. Both are highly educated and trained healthcare professionals, but doctors are trained to diagnose, treat, and prevent illness, while nurses are oftentimes the primary caregivers for their patients.
They relate to patients and families on a more personal level than doctors, using the empathy and compassion that brought them into the profession to offer comfort and provide a holistic approach to healthcare that improves patient outcomes.
All nursing degrees are essentially the same.
Don’t believe everything you hear. Not all nursing degrees are created equal. If you’re serious about making the most of your career in nursing, you’ll take time to find an accredited program with a proven track record for student success. For example, all of the nursing degree programs at WGU are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
WGU was also named a Center of Excellence™ in Nursing Education by the National League of Nursing (NLN) for 2015–2019 for creating environments that enhance student learning and professional development. Accreditation and recognition like these mean a lot to recruiters and your future employers.
Getting into nursing means going back to school full time.
The healthcare industry demands more from employees than ever before, driving nurses and health professionals to earn additional credentials. In the Institute of Medicine’s “The Future of Nursing” report, the authors recommended that nurses should achieve higher levels of education and training, and called for the proportion of nurses with baccalaureate degrees to increase to 80 percent by 2020.
Fortunately, forward-thinking universities empower you to do it on your own terms, so your education dovetails with your current lifestyle and job responsibilities. Regionally-accredited universities like WGU offer highly respected bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing that are also highly flexible.
At WGU, you‘ll complete coursework on your terms, and when you're able to learn material faster, you can even finish ahead of schedule.
John Steele, Senior Vice President of HR at Hospital Corporation of America is a big believer: “Our partnership with WGU enables our employees to advance their education affordably without interrupting their careers.”
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Mahatma Ghandi
This quote is such a fitting way to describe the personal and professional satisfaction that can come from a career in nursing.
Nursing is a challenging, rewarding profession worthy of everyone’s respect and admiration. If you are considering a career in nursing, our B.S. in Nursing offers an accredited path to prelicensure. Or, if you are an RN ready to take your career to the next level, WGU has bachelor’s and master’s degrees that can make it happen.
Finally, if you have any pre-conceived notions about nursing that haven’t been addressed here, a WGU Enrollment Counselor will be happy to help separate the facts from the fiction. Consider nursing as a career, and the next life you change could be your own.