Nursing as a Career

By Michael Hinckley

  • Overview

    Becoming a nurse and entering the workforce as a medical professional can be a difficult task. But sticking with your studies and using this how-to article as a guideline should make the first steps of your new career a bit easier.
    • Step 1

      Finish high school. Though it is possible to enter the nursing field with a GED (graduate equivalency degree), the choice of nursing school will be much more varied and of a higher caliber if you finish high school. While in high school, focus on mathematics, biology and chemistry as these will prepare you for the training you will receive as a nurse.
    • Step 2

      Apply to nursing school. The demand for nurses is high, so getting into a nursing program may be somewhat difficult as the educational system has not expanded to meet the demands of the field. Outstanding candidates such as those with excellent scores on their entry examinations or with extracurricular activities appropriate to the field (volunteering for a hospital or nursing home, for example) will ease entry for some individuals. Apply to multiple nursing schools as well to broaden your chances of acceptance.

    • Step 3

      Work hard. Nursing is an intense, science-based career that requires a firm grasp of calculus, chemistry, anatomy and medical-related fields. Typically, nursing programs can last anywhere from 2 to 4 years, so it is important to understand the early courses to advance successfully.
    • Step 4

      Know your specialty. Some nurses opt to start as registered nurses; this means they are general purpose nurses who can fulfill a variety of roles competently but lack specialized training. Specialists nurses, such as nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists, have acquired additional skills and education that makes them much more desirable to some employers and increases their earnings potential, though these specialties require additional training and education.
    • Step 5

      Play the field. There are many employers looking for good, well-trained nurses. The majority of these employers are so desperate for nurses that they will offer signing bonuses and other amenities to entice a nurse into working for them. Consider these offers carefully, weighing the benefits against the drawbacks (having to move, hours worked and the reputation of the hospital or doctor's office) before committing. Even after landing a job at one employer, it is not unusual for a nurse to find employment elsewhere later on, so your options should still be open even several years later.
    • Skill: Moderately Challenging

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