To Study or Not to Study: Healthcare Part 2 (Nursing)
Oh, it seems you’ve stumbled onto another fascinating edition of To Study or Not to Study. This series is designed to inform the reader
about the various study programs that exist and the pros and cons of each. The goal is to help people who struggle to pick a major or career – which can be a problem for many high school graduates and adults alike. Today we continue what was started in TSONS: Healthcare : Part 1. If you have not read it yet then I highly suggest you do.
As we saw last time, the medical field is and (and will always be) a very high demanding field. In Part 1, we addressed the issue of healthcare being too wide a field to analyze completely in one article. We already learned about Allied Health professions and the administrative medical jobs. Today we will look at Nurses as a career choice. I was originally planning to include doctors and nurses in the same article, but I found that Nursing is such a popular and interesting career that it needed it’s own article.
Many people associate the word “nurse” with a young woman hesitantly trying to help a doctor by handing him equipment. We can all thank TV and movies for this kind of portrayal. In reality, nurses are highly competent and essential parts of hospitals and clinics. These trained workers are more than just assistants, at the end of the day, they put in time and effort equaling that of a doctor. The doctor’s role mainly consists of examining and diagnosing patients. The nurse, on the other hand, has a more hands-on role, usually physically treating the patient based on the doctor's diagnosis.
How do you become a nurse?
There are different paths to becoming a nurse. The main one is also the most obvious; go to college and get a nursing degree. Although there are some nurses who obtain specialized degrees in a graduate program, the minimum requirement to becoming a RN (Registered Nurse) is an Associate’s degree in nursing. These college programs are specifically designed to ready the student for the working field offering 50 per cent theory and 50 per cent practical training. Many RNs with an an ADN or Associate Degree in Nursing will choose at some later point in time to work toward the BSN or Bachelor of Science in Nursing by completing a RN-to-BSN program which prepares them for a broader range of nursing practice.
Those who are less committed to the idea or have less time to dedicate to study, can take another approach. Many people in the nursing industry start their careers by becoming a nursing assistant or nursing aide. Later, they can become a LPN/LVN or Licensed Practical or Vocational Nurse which usually requires a one year course of study from a vocational school or junior college. These work under physicians and RN’s, which have more advanced skills and experience. Afterwards there exist many colleges that offer LPN/LVN to RN classes, some even providing the course online.
What are the ups?
Aside from all other benefits of entering the healthcare field; feeling that you're saving lives, sense of accomplishment, excitement...etc, there are other advantages favoring nurses. One would be the amount of time spent studying. As opposed to a doctor needing almost a decade going through colleges and medical schools to enter an internship, nurses can get an ADN through a two year degree program, while the BSN requires a four year degree. This also means a significant reduction in tuition costs compared to medical school students.
Nurses also have a wide variety of roles and are not limited to hospitals. As a nurse it is possible to work in surgeries, clinics, nursing and residential homes, voluntary work and the pharmaceutical industry. Nurses also have been known to work in the prison service, universities, and even on cruise ships. They also have many options, because of the various specialization opportunities.
As mentioned earlier, the demand for healthcare professionals is quite high. This is more so with nurses. Currently, nursing jobs are considered the most sought-after career worldwide. Colleges and universities can hardly keep up with the number of people looking to enter that career. That’s a good sign but it also brings us to...
What about the downs?
Because nursing is so popular and there is an incredibly high demand for it, many people would think that nursing education is readily available. Well it is. The problem lies with the shortage of nursing educators, which make these programs hard to get into. Some colleges even have waiting lists.
Another thing to remember is that, although nurses work as hard and as long as most doctors (about 40 hours a week on average), the salary is drastically different. What we mean by “different” is that it’s lower, much lower.On average a hospital staff nurse earns $45,000 a year. A hospital staff doctor, however, earns more than six figures for his practice.
Even though certified specialists (medical assistants, radiology technicians) have some contact with patients, they do not carry the weight of responsibility that nurses do. Frankly put, nurses, alongside doctors, have people’s lives in their hands. And although they save many, there will be casualties along the way. Those looking into pursuing a career in nursing should be well aware of the physical and psychological responsibilities associated with this line of work.
Although doctors and nurses play different roles, they are of equal importance in the workplace, completing one another in the process of healing patients. That statement in turn is the perfect transition to the next part of this healthcare series. Next time we will analyze what it takes to become a doctor. Stay tuned for To Study or Not to Study : Healthcare Part 3: Doctors!