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A Simple Guide to Pursuing a Nursing Career: Here’s All You Need to Know

Nursing is an in-demand career that requires passion, commitment and determination. It is one of those careers that offers many job opportunities with unlimited rewards.

In this simple guide to pursuing a nursing career, you will learn about all the key pillars to becoming a certified nurse. It captures all the vital aspects you need to know – from job openings, salaries, self-evaluation,career choice, choosing a college, and practicing.

So, let’s begin with:

1. Job Market Outlook and Trends in the Nursing Profession

According to the United States Department of Labor, the demand for nursing services will increase by about 16% by 2024. This is attributed to the:

  • Increasing aging population
  • Need to educate and sensitize the public about various health conditions
  • Increase in chronic diseases and health condition

Generally, registered nurses will still have more employment opportunities, even thou there has been more nurses joining the industry. Here is a complete Nursing Employment Projection (2014 - 2024).

Also, another crucial element to consider is the:

2. Salary Scale for Registered Nurses

In most cases, the registered nurses salary ranges from $46,360 to $101,630 per year. This may vary depending on your place of work and experience.

NOTE: This is per the information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Of course, depending on the terms of employment, you may be entitled to bonuses in terms of overtime.

3. Personal Attributes of a Nurse

First, you need to evaluate yourself even before you thinking of enrolling in a nursing training program. Being a nurse is not all about having good grades or completing the training.

These alone are not enough. There are other additional personal attributes you must have.

Remember, this is a selfless job where you will have to make the elderly or the sick comfortable.

This is not what anyone you meet along the streets can do.

Therefore, a self-evaluation is critical at this stage. That is, you need to possess at least some of these qualities:

  • Caring in nature
  • Keen and organized
  • Empathetic
  • Emotionally stable
  • Perseverance and adaptable
  • Good communication skills
  • Understanding
  • Physical endurance
  • Quick thinker
  • Respect and humility

In short, these are some of the most common attributes you need to have as a nurse. With these in mind, we can review the job market for the nursing profession.

4. Working Environment for Registered Nurses

The working schedule for nurses may vary depending on whether you are working in a public or private health facility. Other working schedules may also depend on a private arrangement with the client.

Remember, patients, especially those in critical conditions will require a 24 hour care. So, at times you will work in shifts.

Normally, nurses work in different environments such as: healthcare facilities, physician offices, nursing care facilities, home healthcare, outpatient clinics or serve in institutions such as the military.

5. Job Description for a Nurse

The job description for a professional nurse may vary depending on your level of expertise and experience. Below is a comprehensive list of all tasks and duties you will handle as a nurse:

  • Maintain and keep records about patients
  • Monitor, record and assess patients' conditions
  • Interpret and evaluate diagnostic tests
  • Adjust the patient's treatment plan as per the current medical conditions
  • Supervise and direct less skilled health workers
  • Coordinate and consult with other healthcare personnel to establish a good working framework
  • Prepare patients for treatments and examinations
  • To help administer medications and treatments

As you can see, a nurse has a lot of responsibilities. You will learn about all these during your training.

To go about all these duties successfully, you need to go through a professional training to acquire all the necessary skills.

So, here’s what you need to do:

6. How to Start a Nursing Training Program

Pursuing nursing involves the following key stages:

Consider Your Area of Specialization/Expertise

In the nursing profession, you can consider the following key areas of specialization:

  • Nursing diploma
  • Associate degree in nursing
  • Bachelor of science in nursing
  • Master’s degree in nursing

By choosing any of these key areas, you may become:

Depending on your level of education, you can practice as:

  • Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

To be a CNA, you need at least 75-hour vocational training in your area of expertise. The training equips individuals with the skills to perform a limited range of procedures.

As a CNA, you’ll work under the supervision of a registered nurse.

  • Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

You need to go for a 1-year vocational course. LPN is an advanced stage of the nursing profession than CNA.

Apart from the CNA duties and responsibilities, the LPN can administer injections, prepare patients for surgical procedures, maintain patient records, change bandages, etc.

  • Registered Nurse (RN)

You should have at least a Bachelor of Science in nursing or associate of science in nursing.

An RN can diagnose patients and supervise both the LPNs and CNAs.

  • Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)

To be an APRN, you need a postgraduate education in a specific field. You can be a nurse anesthetist, nurse midwives, clinical nurse specialist, etc.

In short, you need to know the type of nursing course you intend to pursue.

Requirements/Qualifications You Need to Register for a Nursing Course

The education requirements will vary depending on the type of nursing course you intend to pursue.

For instance, becoming a certified nursing assistant (CNA) may require a basic education since you will require a vocational training. This is not the case for registered nurses (RN) who need a Bachelor of Science in nursing.

Contact an institution of choice to get all entry requirements.

Key Areas of Study during the Nursing Training Program

Like the entry requirements, your scope of study will depend on the type of nursing course. Broadly, these are the key concepts you will learn during the nursing training program:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Biochemistry and microbiology
  • Healthcare law and ethics
  • Health care policy
  • Nutrition
  • Patient care
  • Psychology
  • Nursing research
  • Chemistry
  • Nursing practice theory, etc.

At advanced stages such as Masters in nursing, you may focus on: nurse midwifery, advanced community health, family practice, gerontology, etc.

Again, you’ll get a course outline from the nursing/health sciences department.

Search for a School/Collage

There are so many directories that can help you find the best schools. During the process, you should consider the following key aspects when choosing a nursing school:

  • Enroll in accredited courses and nursing school
  • Consider the institution’s reputation
  • School’s job placement rates
  • Studying schedule; flexibility of the learning program such as online or part-time options.
  • Availability of facilities and resources such as class size, labs, etc.
  • Does the nursing school allow for specialization
  • Fee for the entire training

You should reach out to students and alumni to have a one-on-one talk with them before joining the nursing school. This will give you a clear picture of everything you need to know about that institution.

Registration and Practicing

To ensure the public remains safe and are only attended to by qualified persons, there are a number of government agencies that regulate the nursing profession.

Apart from enrolling for a registered or accredited course, there are a number of procedures you will follow to practice as a nurse.

So, what happens next after completing the course work?

You will:

  • Take National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN)
  • Get other certifications from the American Nursing Credential Center (ANCC)

With all these, you can start practicing as a nurse in your area of specialization.


I know the process may seem long, but with dedication and commitment, you will definitely achieve this noble objective - being a certified nurse. Nursing is still a lucrative career with so many job opportunities both in the U.S.A. and other parts of the world.

Don’t hesitate to contact us in case you need help. We will help you to get the best nursing course and school.

Sources of Information