The nursing profession has quickly become one of the most popular professions for new graduates. This is true for a number of reasons, as people have flocked to the field looking for job security, economic benefits, and the opportunity to help people. The field brings special rewards to people who are committed, but it also presents its share of challenges. Despite all of the tangible benefits of becoming a nurse, these professionals must still struggle with ethical questions pertaining to care, mostly because many hospitals are understaffed, leaving nurses to make difficult choices about how they will ration their care. Ultimately these challenges are not great, and the rewards outweigh the challenges for most people. For this reason, many people continue to choose nursing as their profession of choice today.
One of the primary rewards of the nursing profession is job security. Nursing is a field that is in demand for a number of different reasons. For one, people are born every day, people die every day, and people need medical care each day. Unlike some fields, which may become obsolete over time or which may wane with the changes in the economy, the medical field is relatively stable. There is almost always going to be a combination of public and private investment in medical services. The government provides a solid base of funding with Medicare, Medicaid, and TriCare, while the new individual mandate that came with the Affordable Care Act forces individuals to purchase medical insurance. This helps to provide long-term job security for people who choose to go into the nursing field. This means that while people in other fields may have to sit around and wonder where they will be in five or ten years, most nurses know that if they do a good job, they will still have a viable profession over that time frame. With the advent of more and better machines, some wonder whether automation will take over this field. After all, it is plausible that machines could eventually do some of the technical things that nurses currently do. The good news for nurses is that their job is about more than just mechanics. Nurses are also tasked with the duty of giving good and bad news to patients. They handle family members. They ensure that patients are apprised of their options before making decisions. There are many “soft” skills involved in nursing that will not be replicated by machines in the next few decades. This gives nurses not only the short-term job security that comes from working in an industry that is not going to go away, but also the long-term job security that goes with being indispensably human.
It would be foolish to discuss the benefits or rewards of the nursing profession without discussing the fact that the nursing profession offers significant economic rewards. The field offers the ability to earn at a number of different tiers, but each of those tiers offers significant rewards when compared to the amount of education that is required to enter the field. While the average salary figures for nurses will differ depending upon which part of the country a nurse finds herself or himself in, the average for the country is around $70,000. This number can be consistently higher in parts of the country where cost of living is more expensive. In addition, the starting salaries for nurses are relatively high, clocking in above $55,000 in most parts of the country. This means that not only is the average high, but people do not have to wait years in order to cash in on the economic benefits. Many nurses have a chance to earn even more money by taking positions on night shifts and weekend shifts. Traveling nurses can earn more, too, and overtime opportunities are ample for many nurses because of understaffing in certain hospitals. Likewise, there are solid economic rewards associated with climbing one’s way up the nursing ladder. Many nurses will choose to get their nurse practitioner certification, which allows them to do some of the same thing that general doctors can do. These professionals earn well into the six figures. Beyond that, they have the opportunity in some cases to operate their own practices or work closely with a doctor in a smaller practice. This has tangible benefits to those who want to exercise some of their entrepreneurial spirit while also working as nurses. Perhaps most important is the fact that with these salaries, many nurses do not have to complete extensive degrees. In some cases, students can step out of two-year programs right into a nursing job that pays significant amounts of money. When compared to the time commitment required of people who go on to become doctors or lawyers, nurses do not have to spend as much time learning their craft.
Not all rewards can be boiled down to money, and this is especially true of the nursing profession. One of the best rewards comes from the fact that nurses get the opportunity to work closely with people during their time of need. If there was ever a profession in which professionals got to help people on a consistent basis, this is the one. No matter what specialty a nurse works in, he or she will have the chance to work closely with patients. This might mean helping to deliver hard news. It might mean consoling a family member who has lost a loved one. It might also mean ensuring that a person is comfortable during a time that is going to be painful or otherwise unpleasant. People depend upon nurses to help them through a difficult time. Nurses get to work with old people and young people alike, and they are likely to go home at the end of every work day feeling as if they have made a positive difference in at least one person’s life. This is something that is not necessarily true of other professions. Many of the professions in which people get to help others – including those in the non-profit field – do not pay very much money. Nurses, then, have the opportunity to help people without making significant sacrifices to their long-term financial viability. They get to benefit from the best of both worlds in this way.
While the nursing field certainly has its ups, nurses understand that not everything is positive in any profession. The nursing profession is no exception to this categorical rule. The nursing field, it seems, is suffering from something of an ethical crisis at the current time. Because some hospitals are trying to cut corners on their staffing costs, they have found that they can overwork nurses and require them to do more on an individual basis. Some might think that this new, “harder” work would be the challenge, but that is not really true. In reality, the major challenge is an ethical one. Nurses are sometimes being asked to make the difficult choice of rationing out their care. Who gets more of the nurse’s time when the nurse has to go to two extra patients? Often, these choices are not nearly as obvious as one might seem. Is physical pain more important than emotional pain? If it is clear that a patient is not going to make it, does the nurse have an obligation to move on to a patient that might make it? Where do families and their needs fit into the mix when the nurse barely has enough time to see people who are actually patients? All of these are ethical dilemmas that complicate the process of working on a daily basis, and create issues for the profession as a whole. These issues are worse in some places than others, as some hospitals are fully stocked. The problems tend to be worse for those nurses who are working in rural parts of the state, where the funding is just not there to hire a full complement of nurses.
The nursing profession has a reputation as one of the strongest out there today. People are flocking to the industry, often from other jobs, because they want to take advantage of the many rewards and benefits that it provides. In a time when people have to worry about their job security, the profession provides not only short-term security, but also a form of long-term job security. Beyond that, the profession provides individuals with economic benefits, both in the beginning of their careers and down the road. People have a chance to earn well without having to go to school for many years to do it. Lastly, the profession is one in which people get to work closely with patients and families, helping people on an almost continual basis. There are some challenges, though, including the constant battle of having to choose where to spend one’s time and energy in those hospitals where the funding is not there to hire as many nurses as are necessary for that particular part of the country. Overall, the field has more positives than negatives by a long shot.
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