Nursing is a fast-paced and in-demand field. The profession offers many benefits to people who enjoy helping others. Like other careers, there are advantages and disadvantages.
For example, working in healthcare is not for the fainthearted. In the past years, nurses have seen more tragedy than any of us should have to endure.
The healthcare crisis from the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted shortcomings in the healthcare system and many of the benefits of becoming a registered nurse. While it may be tempting to see only the challenges of working in healthcare, there are many benefits to pursuing a career in nursing.
There are many pros of nursing, but we’ll explore our top 10 picks on this page. Many nurses have discovered that the long list of benefits far outweighs the challenges. You may discover that pursuing a career in nursing offers far more than other jobs or career options.
Benefits to Pursuing a Career in Nursing
1. Excellent Security, Salary, and Benefits
Nurses are always in demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 9% growth rate in the field between now and 2030. Many states are experiencing a nursing shortage, meaning lots of job opportunities. Hospitals and healthcare facilities need qualified nurses, and some even pay large sign-on bonuses for experienced nurses.
Nurses also receive a competitive salary. The average annual nurse’s salary across the U.S. is $80,010, higher than the annual average salary across all occupations tracked by the BLS.
Additionally, nurses are offered significant benefit packages. Benefits packages for nurses can include:
Paid sick time
Paid vacation and holidays
Health and life insurance
Paid family leave
Reimbursement for certification fees
2. Flexible Schedule
Nursing positions often have flexible hours and scheduling. This can be an added benefit for parents and guardians. A nurse may have the option of 8-, 10-, or 12-hour shifts depending on the employer. Working 10- or 12-hour shifts decrease the days you work each week.
Nurses can also work side gigs for other types of employers.
- School nurses often have two months off each summer, which coincides with the school schedule.
- Travel nurses can pick their assignments based on location and the shift offered.
- Homecare nurses normally work during business hours and only on some weekends.
- Community health nurses work weekdays during business hours.
Flexibility is key in the healthcare field. Although nurses may need to be flexible on occasion to work overtime or float to another floor, the job also offers flexible scheduling opportunities.
Some small hospital units also offer self-scheduling. This gives the nurse a greater sense of autonomy and control, improving a nurse’s sense of well-being.
3. Rewarding Career Path
Another reason to choose a nursing career is it can bring you a great deal of personal fulfillment. Nurses make a difference in the lives of their patients every day. Your knowledge and education also make a difference in the lives of your friends and family.
Regardless of the setting, nurses must understand the emotional side of illness and how it impacts a person’s behavior. The combination of these skills and a hefty dose of compassion have likely contributed to nurses being ranked as the most trusted profession for 19 consecutive years.
A 2020 Gallup poll found 89% of Americans voted nurses as “high” or “very high” in the categories of honesty and ethics.
During the COVID pandemic, many hospitals and media sites labeled nurses and doctors “healthcare heroes.” While the work that was done was truly heroic, the label may have done more damage than good for several reasons. One of those is perpetuating the Imposter syndrome in nurses who struggle to believe they deserve the achievements and high esteem in which they are held.
Factors that might contribute to the development of Imposter syndrome include your family upbringing. However, by grounding yourself in a community of caring individuals, you can share your feelings, learn to focus on a realistic assessment of your abilities, and stop comparing yourself to others.
4. Opportunity for Advancement
A career in nursing offers many opportunities for advancement and the option to work in different fields. Armed with your nursing degree and advanced education, you can move into a nurse managerial position or an advanced practice clinical position.
Some nurses progress in their careers by earning specialized nurse certifications, making them more attractive to employers and raising their potential salaries. Others choose to move out of the clinical field into administrative positions where they can impact the profession or the institution.
The opportunity to advance offers nurses new challenges, higher salaries, and greater job satisfaction. In pursuit of new job roles, nurses have the option of moving to new areas of the U.S. or even other countries. Opportunities in advanced clinical nursing education include mission nurse work in underserved areas or with organizations like Doctors Without Borders.
5. Several Ways to Become a Nurse
One of the pros of nursing is the many ways you can enter the workforce. There are three common routes you can take to become a registered nurse.
1. Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) Degree
A licensed practical nurse (LPN) degree is the quickest way to enter nursing. The degree takes one year to complete, including up to 750 clinical hours. An LPN makes an average annual salary of $50,090 and can work in various healthcare facilities.
However, most employers seek nurses with a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). This is a four-year degree, after which you can take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) and be licensed in your state as a registered nurse.
2. Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
A second option to become a registered nurse is to complete an associate degree in nursing (ADN), which takes two years to complete, including clinical hours and prerequisite course work. Whether you complete an LPN program or ADN program, there are bridge programs that can help you to become a BSN-prepared nurse.
3. ADN-to-MSN Bridge Program
An ADN nurse may also bypass completing their BSN and earn their master of science in nursing (MSN) through an ADN-to-MSN bridge program. These programs allow you to complete the education needed for an advanced practice nurse role or to attain your degree in administration.
Bridge programs take advantage of your past education and your current skills. Some programs are also online, which helps candidates continue to work while completing their education.
6. Learn Transferable Career Skills
Nurses develop several transferable skills they can use if nurses choose to change their careers. For example, nurses develop strong soft skills like communication. They must interact and get information from their patients and collaborate with other healthcare workers.
Nurses can comfort patients who are scared and alone or negotiate with an intoxicated person. This level of communication is rare in the workplace and valued by many employers.
Nurses must also be excellent time managers, which looks like prioritizing tasks and fitting them into an already busy schedule. Nurses are familiar with and have experience working in teams. This is a necessary skill for employees in large companies.
Additionally, nurses understand the necessity of being dedicated and persevering through challenging times. Dedication isn’t usually glamorous. Instead, it can be exhausting and frustrating.
Finally, they must have strong critical thinking skills for nurses. They must consider recommendations or evaluate orders written by physicians for their patients. Asking “what if” questions and analyzing the possible outcomes help nurses reach informed decisions.
All employers are looking for people who have these skills. Many employers can teach the information needed to perform the job but don’t have the structure to teach employees how to be dedicated and collaborative or develop strong communication and critical thinking skills.
7. Choose or Change Your Specialty
Nurses have the opportunity to work in areas that interest them. For example, there is a need for nurses in labor and delivery, cardiovascular surgery, mental health, and dialysis. In other words, whatever area of medicine interests you, nurses are needed to care for patients.
All nurses go through “basic training.” Nursing programs teach candidates the foundational skills they need to care for patients. After graduation, hospitals and healthcare organizations have training programs that help nurses gain the skills and knowledge to practice in that area.
Nurses can choose what interests them most and work in that field. However, there are times when you get burned out working in a specialty. If that happens, nurses have the opportunity to change specialties without going back to school.
Take some time to self-evaluate. Think about why you don’t like your current specialty since it can help you make the right decision. Do your research on the specialty and get some hands-on experience. Ask to shadow a nurse and network with nurses who work in the field.
If the switch you are making is a drastic change, such as pediatrics to labor and delivery, you may receive additional education. This can be as simple as a day-long workshop or nursing certification course.
Timing your switch for after you’ve mastered your original specialty shows your new manager your ability to learn and excel.
8. Travel Opportunities
Becoming a registered nurse gives you a unique opportunity to travel. Travel nurses are in great demand as they help fill in geographical shortages. The pandemic and overall nursing shortage have increased the rates at which they are paid. Travel nurses are offered a pay package that includes an hourly rate, housing stipends, non-taxed per diems, and travel reimbursement.
Travel nurses have the opportunity to see the world like a resident and not a tourist. People who are visiting a city may stay for one or two weeks and often see all the main tourist attractions.
But travel nurses often live in the area for 26 weeks. They may visit all the tourist areas and have the chance to see the local life in a way that a tourist often cannot experience.
9. Change Your Job but Not Your Career
Nurses can work in a variety of settings, which can increase your opportunity to stay in your career if you get burned out working in a hospital or doctor’s office.
Nurses are needed in school systems, colleges, and universities.
If you are interested in criminal justice, prisons and jails also have nurses to care for the prisoners.
Home Health Nurses
Since there is a growing aging population who want to stay home, the need for homecare nurses who can ensure that people are safe in their homes is rising.
Mission organizations need nurses who can work with them in the mission field, whether in the U.S. or another country.
Forensic nurses work with the court system to collect evidence.
Other options include nursing educator, holistic nurse consultant, clinical nurse researcher, cruise ships, public health nurse, informatics nurse, and legal nurse consultant.
In each case, you are using your nursing degree, many times outside of direct patient care.
10. Simple Wardrobe
It’s a simple but daily benefit. You don’t have to think about what you’re wearing to work. You don’t spend hundreds of dollars on new clothes every season, and your profession demands that you wear comfortable shoes.
You can wear the same color scrubs every day, and no one will make fun of you. In fact, everyone wears the same nurse uniform, which is cost-effective and washes easily. The most expensive piece of clothing you’ll buy for work is your shoes.
Remember not to skimp on your work shoes, since most nurses walk between 4-5 miles in every 12-hour shift.