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Want to Become a Nurse? This is What You Need to Know Before Earning Your Nursing Degree.

by South University
October 15, 2018
A photo of a South University nursing student.

You're considering becoming a nurse. Maybe you have family members in the healthcare field, or you’ve been inspired by nurses who cared for you or your loved ones. Whatever your motivation, your nursing career will need to start with a nursing education. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing is the degree recommended by industry leaders and strongly preferred by 86% of recently surveyed employers. This nursing bachelor’s degree can prepare you with a solid foundation on which to build your career.

Of course, before you commit to a degree or a career, you’re likely to have a few questions—and we have answers!

What are the benefits of a nursing career?

Employment Growth: According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of registered nurses is expected to grow 15% between 2016 and 2026, resulting in 438,100 new nursing positions!

Employment of registered nurses is expected to grow 15% between 2016 and 2026, resulting in 438,100 new nursing positions!

That faster than average employment growth is driven in part by the aging of the large Baby Boomer generation and their increasing health care needs. On top of this, large numbers of nurses are expected to retire in the coming decade. Together, this means that nurses are in-demand. In some regions—particularly in the South and West—nurses are increasingly in short supply. By entering this profession, you can help fill that demand and care for those who need it.

Personal Fulfillment: Nursing can be a rewarding career. As a nurse, you can have a huge impact on your patients (emotionally and physically) as you care for and support them through their most difficult moments. And the more educated you are, the better you’ll know how to help. US News even ranks nursing #18 on their 100 Best Jobs list, based on factors like job market, future growth, salary, and work-life balance. Nurses can also expect to earn the respect of others; for 16 years straight, nurses have been voted the most honest and ethical professionals in an annual national Gallup Poll.

US News even ranks nursing #18 on their 100 Best Jobs list

What kind of person makes a good nurse?

Compassionate: Nurses need to demonstrate caring and empathy for patients through their bedside manner. Nurses must also stay emotionally strong and help patients and family members to manage their emotions in emergencies, stressful situations, and other trying times.

Good Communicators: Listening to patients is essential as a nurse. You must know how to ask the right questions and gain your patients trust so that you can understand their health and concerns. Likewise, a large part of nursing is educating patients, including explaining complicated medical information and instructions. Nurses also must communicate and collaborate with many fellow healthcare providers.

Organized: Nurses constantly balance multiple tasks and patients, so keeping everything in order is key to providing quality care. Close attention to detail is another professional quality nurses need, to ensure that proper medicine and treatments are given on schedule.

Problem-Solver: In many situations, nurses are called upon to think and act quickly. You’ll often be asked to assess changes in patients and decide when action or assistance is needed.

Hard Worker: Last but not least, hard work is another distinguishing characteristic of a great nurse. Nursing is rewarding but caring for others isn't easy. Nurses are on their feet most of the day, and, depending on where you work, nursing shifts can be long.

What are some major jobs that nurses do?

As we've mentioned, registered nurses (RNs) deliver and coordinate patient care as well as educate and support patients and their families. Most RNs work with a team of physicians and healthcare specialists and may also manage nursing assistants, aids, and licensed* practical nurses.

The jobs nurses do include:

  • Assessing and recording patient conditions and symptoms
  • Administering medicine and treatment
  • Operating and monitoring medical equipment
  • Assisting with diagnostic tests and analysis
  • Teaching patients how to manage injuries and illnesses

RNs can choose to focus on particular groups of patients, such as children or the elderly. Different types of nurses also specialize in certain health issues, such as cardiovascular nurses, who care patients who have heart surgery or heart disease.

What is a typical career path for a nurse?

After earning your nursing degree, the next step will be to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) and meet your state requirements for licensing*. From there, how your nursing career progresses is up to you. You’ll have the chance to work in a variety of in-demand specialties, and over time you can advance into more senior nursing positions.

Some nurses earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) so that they can provide higher quality care and work more independently. MSN programs can offer specializations such as family nurse practitioner, nurse educator, or nursing informatics, to name just a few. After you have an MSN, you can also gain skills in new specializations with post graduate certificate programs. You can even pursue a doctorate in nursing (a Doctor of Nursing Practice or a PhD in Nursing) to increase your leadership, teaching, clinical, and/or research skills. The trajectory of your nursing career all depends on your interests and goals!

Ready to discuss BSN programs and applying to nursing school?

At South University, our nursing programs are led by experienced** nurses and are built to make you a confident, caring health care professional. Contact our admissions team at 1.888.444.3404 or request information online today.

*South University does not guarantee third-party certification/licensure. Outside agencies control the requirements for taking and passing certification/licensing exams and are subject to change without notice to South University.

**Credentials and experience levels vary by faculty and instructors.

by South University
October 15, 2018
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The Rising Value of a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing

by South University
August 7, 2017

Today, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) reports that only slightly more than half of all Registered Nurses (RNs) have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Yet, major professional organizations, including the National Academy of Medicine, are pushing for that number to reach 80% by 2020.

Why Organizations Want RNs with a BSN

While 80% of RNs with a BSN is an ambitious goal, many organizations want to make it a reality. Why? They hope to increase the standard of care for their patients, and a growing body of research demonstrates improved clinical outcomes for nurses with higher education. These outcomes range from lower mortality rates to more accurate diagnoses.

Some hospitals may be further driven by a desire for the coveted Magnet Hospital designation, which requires that hospitals have a plan to ensure 80% of their RNs hold a BSN by 2020. The awarding committee also evaluates the current education of the nursing staff and expects all nurse managers to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

How a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing Could Help You

While associate’s and diploma nursing programs focus primarily on the basics of clinical care, BSN programs offer a broader curriculum useful in diverse settings and cases. BSN programs can teach you communication, critical thinking, and leadership skills as well as prepare you to deliver more advanced patient care.

Employers recognize and value that difference, with the numbers clearly showing the value of a BSN to RNs on the job hunt. In 2016, the AACN found that nearly 98% of surveyed organizations strongly preferred hiring nurses with a bachelor's degree in nursing, while over 54% only hired RNs with a BSN. The US Army, Navy and Air Force, for example, require every active duty practicing RN to hold a BSN.

Having a bachelor's degree in nursing is also commonly a must-have for moving beyond basic clinical positions into administration, research, teaching, or other specialized nursing fields. This holds true in the Veteran's Administration (VA)—the single largest US employer for RNs—where nurses cannot be promoted out of entry-level positions without a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Earning a BSN can also lead to a jump in your salary. In 2017, Payscale.com reported that RNs with a BSN earned a median salary of $69,000, nearly $8,000 more than those without the degree. Beyond that, a bachelor’s degree in nursing can be a stepping stone to a master’s degree in nursing, which is required for advanced practice RNs.

Solutions for Working Nurses: RN to BSN Programs and Online Nursing Degrees

Without your RN status, earning a bachelor's degree in nursing would take, on average, four years. Luckily, RN to BSN programs can save RNs like you time and money. If you meet RN to BSN requirements, you could earn your BSN in under two years.

What's more, select schools allow you to earn nursing degrees online—giving you greater flexibility and control over your schedule. Your employer may even offer tuition reimbursement support for RN to BSN programs. Either way, investing in your education now could lead to more job and promotion opportunities and a higher salary in the future.

Author's Note: This article was originally published September 2016 and has been updated to reflect current research statistics and insights.

by South University
August 7, 2017
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