Historically, nursing has been considered a great career choice for women not just because it’s respected and well-paid, but because the career path has been a relatively easy one. During the early and mid-20th century, nurses received two to three years of training through either hospital-administered programs or the military; later, community colleges began to offer two-year nursing degrees or ADNs. Even today, many nurses take advantage of the two-year ADN path to becoming a registered nurse (RN).
But the basic requirements to enter the nursing career are getting tighter. Many hospitals are phasing out licensed practical nurses, or LPNs, nursing professionals who don’t have a college education of any kind. They’re also requiring RNs to earn at least a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). While LPNs and RNs with ADNs will still be able to work in non-hospital settings, the highest-paying jobs with the most room for advancement are to be found in hospitals. The good news is that nursing has not stopped becoming a great career option for women; for those who are willing to spend a few more years in nursing school, nursing still offers a high salary, plenty of opportunities, and a flexible work schedule.
Opportunities for Well-Trained Nurses Abound
It’s true that nursing isn’t as easy to get into as it once was. According to the Wall Street Journal, it’s harder than ever for nurses without BSNs to get hospital jobs, and there are few opportunities for nurses to advance outside of hospitals. Nevertheless, if you’re a nurse with a BSN or an MSN, you’ll find plenty of opportunities.
Registered nurses still command a healthy salary of $65,470 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s enough for a single mother to support her family on her own, or for a married woman to contribute to the household finances and enjoy some degree of economic independence. Over the next decade, the health care industry is expected to add 526,800 new registered nursing jobs, and if you go ahead and spend the extra time to earn a BSN, you’ll qualify for all future nurse job openings.
For nurse specialists, the news is even better. When you earn an advanced degree in nursing, you’ll be qualified to become a nurse midwife, nurse anesthetist, or nurse practitioner. These positions are compensated at an average of $96,460 a year and the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects 31 percent job growth over the next 10 years. For women who want a well-paying job with lots of room for advancement and a great job outlook, a nurse specialist position is the way to go. An MSN will open doors to these positions, or you can earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice and maximize your potential for advancement and job security in a field that offers the flexibility modern women need. With a DNP, you can even transition into a nurse educator role later in your career, and help to educate the next generation of young nurses.
Nursing Offers Flexibility and Endless Opportunities
Many women need a career that allows them to support their families both financially and emotionally. Nursing salaries are high enough that, even as a registered nurse, you can pay the bills and keep your family comfortable, whether you’re a single mother or a partnered one. You’ll be able to choose to work days, weekends, or nights. You can even work three 12-hour shifts and have a four-day weekend every week. When you choose nursing as a career, you’ll have plenty of time to spend with your family.
Nursing also offers plenty of opportunities around the country and the world. No matter where you go in the United States, you’ll be able to find a job. You could even work overseas, or give back by helping the homeless or working with an organization like Doctors Without Borders. You could become a travel nurse and see the country or the world. You’ll have the skills to care for ailing family members and to protect your own health. You can choose a quiet, relaxed work environment, such as in a nursing home, or a fast-paced, hectic work environment, such as in a hospital emergency department. No matter what you want from your career, nursing can give it to you.
Since the nursing profession first emerged, it’s been considered an ideal way for young women to earn a living. Today, nursing offers women more opportunities than ever. Choose a career that offers independence, respect, flexibility, a high salary, and a chance to challenge yourself and grow professionally and personally — choose nursing.