Well, you wouldnt be the first girl, fresh out of high school, to think that nursing was the career for her, and you might be encouraged to become a nurse by the employment outlook.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, business is booming for nurses, especially in rural and high turnover areas. High turnover means the job is tough and people leave, but it also means a good labor market in that field.
In fact, the BLS says that nursing opportunities will only increase, somewhere between 10 and 25 percent from 2008 (the year of the labor prediction) to the year 2018. And the pay is pretty good for a starting RN (Registered Nurse), an average of $60,000 per annum.
But there are one or two things you should know about the career, and even more about the education it needs, before committing your life to it.
The Education You Need and What You Should Love First
Heres a rule of thumb any medical professional can stand by and attest to: no prospective student who hated math and science in school ever became a real nurse. Sorry to tell you, but it is completely true; the first real indication that you will be a good one is that you have a basic love of mathematics and the sciences early on in your education, by high school at the latest. And conversely, if youre no good at them, or you are okay with them but you dont much like them, you wont be much good at nursing.
Once youve got all that great math/science training in high school, be prepared for it to intensify: it gets heavier and more professional in college, where youll be expected to complete higher level classes in these disciplines successfully before most medical programs will consider you.
To be considered, you had better be part of a BSN (Bachelor of Science) program and active in its classes. Dont even bother stopping at an Associates degree, as that will get you little except hospital cleanup duties as an orderly; virtually no one is hired, even possessing the RN certificate, if they have no bachelors degree.
If you want to be even more competitive, you should get into an MSN (Masters degree) program.
The Hours, Oh, the Hours!
Once youve completed your 12 to 18 months of classes (which might be shortened if youre lucky enough to get into an accelerated program), you still need clinical experience to certify as an RN: one thousand hours in a clinical / medical / hospital setting at the minimum, four thousand to be job worthy. Its an enormous investment of time, effort, energy and incredibly long hours (shifts are usually 12 to 24 hours on before you get hours off).
And finally, after the college, clinical experience and the massive NCLEX - RN exam, you are a certified RN. Thats only the first step to other positions or any other specialty.
Did all this information depress you about the nursing profession?
If it didnt, and youre still raring to go hey, you just might be cut out to be a nurse.