Are you looking for a profession that lets you help people every day? Are you interested in entering the medical world, but don’t want to spend years in medical school? Consider a career in nursing.
You will need at least an associate’s degree in nursing and have to pass the state licensing exam to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or registered nurse (RN).
Other opportunities for advancement allow you to specialize in a certain area, and you may advance to a bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degree, after which you can become a nurse practitioner (NP) or doctor of nursing practice (DNP).
Elaine Andolina is the director of admissions at the University of Rochester School of Nursing (www.rochester.edu). She obtained her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Georgetown University (www.georgetown.edu) and worked in the pediatrics unit at Sibley Memorial Hospital, where she was promoted to head nurse position in the intensive care unit after one year.
A degree in nursing can open up many possibilities and professions beyond working in a hospital. You can become a midwife, travel to care for people in their homes, conduct research, write freelance articles or teach classes.
A good nurse must be an excellent multitasker during a 12-hour shift. When you’re filling out patient charts, monitoring their heart rate, and changing an IV, it’s important to remain calm to keep the patient at ease.
“You have to be able to handle many things going on at once and not get stressed,” Andolina says.
Is it for you?
You might make a good nurse if you are detail-oriented and have interpersonal skills that help you interact with patients and gain their trust. Although this is a big part of what nurses do, you must also have aptitude for the sciences.
“It’s not just nurturing,” Andolina says. “You’ve got to learn anatomy and biology and microbiology.”
There is an especially high demand for males in the field. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, men make up less than 7 percent of nurses in the country.
Also, consider that nurses have lots of career opportunities outside of hospitals, such as working for a private practice, a rehabilitation center and nursing homes. In fact, traveling nurses are the second most lucrative positions in the field, Andolina says.
High school courses that will help prepare you for this career include algebra, biology, psychology, physics and computers. Some preliminary college coursework includes anatomy, physiology, microbiology, nutrition and statistics.
National average salary: $61,000 (RN)
Pursue if: You have a knack for science and want to help care for people as a profession. If you’re interested in pursuing this career, getting early hands-on experience by volunteering at a hospice is one way to do so.