By Robert Conrad
Let’s face it; the field of nursing can extremely stressful. Not only do nurses have to address the immediate needs of their patients, they also have to worry about potential malpractice suits, bullying from patients and co-workers and be ready to make decisions revolving around life and death on a whim. For those who don’t understand fully the breadth of a nurse’s duties, this profession may seem like more trouble than it’s worth.
However, with the proper perspective and passion above all else, nursing can be highly rewarding. To put it into a different perspective, nurses serve on the frontline of a much-needed facet of medical care that is often overlooked. In short, nurses bring not only medical expertise to the fore, but also a human element that patients would not experience in an otherwise bland, clinical setting with long wait times.
For many that want to enter into the field of nursing, it may be a call to duty, a deeply embedded need to take care of others, or even the family business. Many of the nurses I have met over time felt that nursing was the best fit for them because it allowed them to interact with their patients on a personal level. Out of these nurses, all of them felt that simple and humanitarian interaction with their patients meant the difference between life and death in many cases.
Nurses in Short Supply?
To the untrained eye, hospitals today seem to be absolutely brimming with nurses, bustling in and out of rooms. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Roughly 1/3 of nurses and RNs will reach the age of retirement in the next 10 years, which will lead to a loss of experiential knowledge and leadership. Simply put, aging nurses and medical leaders are getting older and have the potential to create significant shortages as they reach retirement. More information on this alarming situation can be found on this chart.
For those who are interested in entering the nursing profession, the need couldn’t be made more apparent. However, many who are considering nursing cannot simply walk off the street and blindly apply for these positions without prior experience. At minimum, potential candidates are required to have a Diploma in Nursing and a promise of continued training and education in order to be considered eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLE-RN (American Nurses Association, 2014).
Even Working Professionals Can Get an Education
Potential entrants into the field of nursing may already have financial and familial obligations that prevent them from seeking out a traditional education. This doesn’t have to be a boon. To address the needs of working professionals, many institutions such as the Keck School of Medicine of USC offer a Master of Public Health, which may come in handy for those who may want to become traveling nurses. For those who wish to stay in their current organization, there are various specializations that include biostatistics, epidemiology and geohealth that carry a more local focus.
There exist many different online programs that help working adults earn a degree to help them get the career they deserve and covet. Online learning affords students the most recent information that will help them take better care of their patients and themselves. Further, online colleges also help students learn to handle the inherent stresses of their job, whether it is dealing with potentially dangerous patients, exposure to illness and even co-worker conflicts. Effective communication is big in these environments and its strong emphasis in online colleges fosters an environment that helps students positively interact with others.
As for potential nursing students who are bound by previous obligations, given the predicted shortages, I cannot stress enough the importance of chasing your dreams. Don’t let perceived misguidances and obligations stop you from pursuing your education, and that’s coming from a former online student, father and husband who recently obtained a Master’s Degree.
In conclusion, the predicted shortages and lack of qualified employees to fill those positions are cause for concern. If you are considering entering the field of nursing but are bound by financial and/or familial obligations, consider going to an online college. It allows you the flexibility to attend to your personal needs while earning a degree that will help you achieve your career goals. Nursing is an important aspect of healthcare that is often overlooked and underappreciated. Next time you see your nurse, be sure to give them a big “thank you”, as they went through a lot to get where they are today.
Robert Conrad is an Online Master’s degree recipient and former sitter for various hospitals. As a sitter, he would help ICU patients by assisting medical staff, being a sympathetic ear, chatting, and improving his patient’s overall quality of life through empathy and accommodation. His roles as a sitter could change on a whim, depending on the needs and best interests of the patient. Self-discipline, empathy and rapid critical thinking were skills required in this capacity and honed to a fine point while attending online college, where meeting deadlines and effectively communicating with university staff were his sole responsibility.