The nursing profession is one of the most rewarding, challenging, and respectable jobs out there. Nurses are vitally important in all sorts of healthcare settings, just as much as doctors and surgeons, and they often work in an even more hands-on way with patients. And because nursing offers a wide variety of specializations, responsibilities, and opportunities, this career path is versatile and exciting.
2022 is a great time to become a nurse. Healthcare has been in the news a lot lately thanks to the pandemic, and you might not think now is the best time to enter the field. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s one of the most opportune times to consider a career in healthcare, and the field needs you. An aging population that will need more and more medical care in the coming years, combined with a Baby Boomer generation that’s rapidly retiring from the workforce, means that the already large nursing sector is likely to grow in the coming decades. The Registered Nursing job outlook is good, as are outlooks for other kinds of nursing specialties.
Let’s examine what it takes to become an RN and what it is that these outstanding professionals do. Then, we’ll discuss in more detail why 2022 is the perfect time to become a nurse.
How to Become a Registered Nurse
The Registered Nurse (RN) designation is considered by many to be the gold standard of nursing. When you’re an RN, you’re at the peak of your field in terms of education, skill, and experience. Of course, that doesn’t mean your nursing career is capped. RNs can continue on to all sorts of advanced nursing positions. That’s one of the many reasons this career path is so desirable to nurses and prospective nurses all over the country.
There are two basic educational steps for someone who wants to become a Registered Nurse. They are:
- Complete prerequisites for nursing school. Common prerequisite courses for nursing school include subjects like basic anatomy, physiology, anatomy, and biology. Nursing schools usually require that incoming students earn a minimum of a “C” grade level in these courses before being admitted. Prerequisite coursework can be completed through community colleges, private colleges, universities, and more.
- Earn a BSN or ADN degree. There are two nursing degree options for those who want to become Registered Nurses. The Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is the standard four-year Bachelor’s degree in clinical nursing. An Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) is a two- or three-year program that covers nursing fundamentals and is considered a faster way for nurses to complete their education and start working. However, it’s important to note that some medical facilities, including most large hospital networks and teaching hospitals, require their Registered Nurses to hold a BSN degree.
After completing the necessary educational requirements, prospective RNs have one final step to undergo: taking and passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). This is a rigorous computerized test that requires test-takers to complete and minimum of 75 questions and pass the examination before gaining licensure as a Registered Nurse.
RN students can apply and register to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam before they’ve graduated nursing school, allowing them to take the exam shortly after graduation. That way, new RNs can start working shortly after they’ve graduated.
Passing the NCLEX-RN and gaining licensure is all you’ll need to start working as a Registered Nurse. But you can go on to earn even higher levels of education or specializations. Many RNs continue to advance their skill sets and education, becoming Nurse Practitioners (NPs), clinical nurse specialists, or nurse anesthetists, just to name a few.
What Do Registered Nurses Do?
Registered Nurses provide round-the-clock care to patients in a variety of medical facilities, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, residential care facilities, doctors’ offices, specialty clinics, and more. The specific job duties of an RN include things like:
- Administering treatments and medications
- Assessing, observing, and monitoring patients
- Preparing patients for exams and treatment
- Creating and implementing patient care plans along with other members of the medical team, including physicians, caseworkers, specialists, and other nurses
- Operating and monitoring medical equipment
- Drawing blood and taking samples for laboratory work
- Educating patients and their family members on treatments and care plans
- Supervising other care team members like Licensed Practical Nurses, Nursing Assistants, and nursing students
An RN can work within various areas of healthcare, including oncology, ambulatory care, rehabilitation, radiology, pediatrics, and others, in addition to general care and critical care settings. Depending on the healthcare facility and the job itself, advanced education or further specialization may be needed for an RN to work in these specialized areas, but it isn’t necessary in every case.
5 Reasons to Become a Nurse in 2022 & Beyond
We’ve seen what it takes to become a nurse and examined what a Registered Nurse does on a daily basis. So, why is 2022 a great time to consider this rewarding career path?
Here are five reasons to become a nurse this year:
The experts are predicting increased demand in the nursing field through 2030. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 9 percent growth through the 2020s, with nearly 200,000 openings each year on average. This is due to a variety of factors, some of which were mentioned above. The pandemic, unfortunately, caused severe burnout among the nursing population, leading to many resignations. That, coupled with the aging Baby Boomers starting to retire, means there are a lot of open Registered Nursing job opportunities right now.
We’ve seen record sign-on bonuses and salary numbers for nurses since the pandemic, particularly in in-demand specializations like travel nursing. But the same is true for RNs and other types of nurses. And the field was already a well-paying one – the median annual salary for RNs in 2020 was $75,330, according to the BLS. Keep in mind that that is only the median; many RNs make well above that figure. And with pandemic-related bonuses and hazard pay, the compensation is likely to remain very desirable.
Greater Access to Online/Hybrid Education
There is greater access than ever before to online and hybrid education models that can help nurses advance their skill sets and education to grow even further. In fact, many healthcare employers will even pay for their nurses to go back to school or provide educational resources for free in some cases. Even RNs can get advanced degrees and certifications that can help them land even greater roles in the future.
As long as healthcare is needed, the nursing profession will exist. And as much as technology is becoming more and more commonplace within the medical field, the need for humans to provide hands-on care is still there. To put it simply, the nursing profession is one of the most secure jobs out there. As an RN or another type of nurse, you can rest assured you’ll have no trouble finding a job or having a wealth of opportunities at your disposal.
Travel Nursing Opportunities
Travel nursing has exploded in popularity since the early days of the pandemic, as more and more nurses were needed to travel to hot spots and support over-burdened care teams. There are plenty of travel nursing opportunities out there, and it suits many nursing professionals – new graduates who want to see the country and meet new people, seasoned nursing veterans who want to work with a variety of teams and bolster their resume, empty-nesters who are looking for a bit of adventure… the list goes on.
Another great thing about the nursing profession is that it’s a very flexible one. RNs and other kinds of nurses can work in a variety of settings, from hospitals and nursing homes to home-care settings and specialty clinics. There are nursing opportunities in big cities and in rural areas, on the coast and in the middle of the country… wherever you want to live and work, you’ll be able to do it as a nurse. Plus, there are multiple scheduling options, from overnight or second shift work and per diem opportunities, that can help you facilitate a great work-life balance. If you’re looking for a career that gives the option of something besides the typical 9 to 5, nursing is a great choice.
Find a Registered Nursing Job in Washington, D.C. with NRI, Inc. Today
If you’re interested in exploring the exciting field of nursing in 2022, partner with a nurse staffing agency that can match you with a healthcare facility that lets you grow and thrive. For nursing jobs in Washington DC, turn to NRI, Inc.
We’re the healthcare staffing agency to rely on when you’re looking for RN jobs in Washington DC or other types of healthcare roles – both within and outside of nursing. Take the next step in your career and contact one of our nursing job recruiters today to get started and browse jobs here.