Nursing requires very little introduction to most of us. At some point in our lives we see a member of this caring profession in action. The majority of registered nurses (3 out of 5) work in hospitals with the remainder working in private care, rest homes, care homes, nursing homes, and other medical practices. The treatment, care, and education of the patient is the mainstay of the nurse’s role but establishing, maintaining, and updating patient records are also a large part of the job.
A registered nurse often chooses to advance his or her career by specializing in a particular area of medicine. There are many different roles that can be filled by the appropriate registered nurse. For example, a nurse could choose to specialize in cardiac care, emergency room care, pediatrics, women’s health or surgical services to name just a few. It is even possible to embark on a more specific path specializing in the treatment of one particular disease or illness. Examples include oncology (the treatment of cancer) and kidney diseases. Nursing requires dedication, hard work and a strong capacity to learn new skills.
Employment and Earnings Statistics
The Department of Labor expects registered nursing to show a 26% increase in available positions from 2010 to 2020, above the average for all occupations. Hospitals and other establishments struggle to find and retain the appropriately qualified nurses so there is almost always a demand.
While nursing was once considered an underpaid and undervalued job, salaries and benefits have risen in recent years. The median annual wage for a registered nurse is $64,690 (May 2010, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor) and almost all registered nurses receive flexible working hours, help with childcare, and other benefits. If the supply of registered nurses continues to fall below the demand then this figure could easily rise further.
The Best Course of Education or Vocation
There are essentially three educational routes to take when considering a career in nursing; an Associate’s Degree in nursing, a Bachelor of Science Degree in nursing or a nursing diploma. All nursing schools in California offer one or more of these options. Gaining one form of education is essential to gain an entry level position as a staff nurse, and students who attain any of them should be able to find a suitable position.
It is common for most states to require re-certification on a periodical basis. This is to ensure that nursing standards are kept to a maximum level. An Associate’s Degree generally takes between two and three years to complete, a similar amount of time to the three-year diploma that is offered. Many students who earn an Associate’s also choose to continue and study for a Bachelor’s Degree because the four-year program allows students to specialize in certain areas of care and treatment. Because most medical institutions now offer financial assistance for education, it is possible to advance a nursing career while still earning a salary.
Potential Nursing Careers
As well as the huge potential for work in hospitals, many types of clinical practices may require the services of a registered nurse. More and more holistic practices are opening their doors and require holistic nurses. However, one of the largest areas of growth will be in outpatient clinics and surgeries. Technology and science have advanced considerably and while this means greater benefit for the patient it also means an increased demand being placed on hospitals and general surgeries. Because preventative medicine has also increased in its application, this again means more people will visit their doctors and outpatient clinics on a more frequent basis.
As the baby boomers are reaching retirement age, a greater emphasis has been placed on care for the elderly. As the population grows older, more elderly people are admitted to care and rest homes; both of which require registered nurses on a part or full-time basis. Another area that will increase is home care nursing services. While the population has aged, the elderly portion of the population has accumulated more disposable income. This, coupled with a demand for in home care, will mean more registered nurses will be required to fill these types of positions.
Nursing Program Details
Regardless of which of the California nursing schools you choose, the programs will generally offer similar material. The only instance when this may not be true is the Bachelor’s Degree.
There are a number of important components to a nursing qualification. Patient care and patient treatment are obviously important but so too are the skills you will learn that pertain to the various branches of medicine. Most schools offer a hands-on approach, which will give you a clear indication of whether the course and, subsequently the career, are the right choice for you.
At the end of the program there is a nationally recognized exam. This exam, called the NCLEX-RN is essentially the point when you become a registered nurse. It may be necessary to retake these on a periodical basis as long as you wish to remain a registered nurse.