Feeling stuck in your job and wanting a change that’s both challenging and fulfilling? You’re not alone. Many people are at a crossroads, thinking about making a change in their careers. Change can be scary, but it can also bring great opportunities for personal growth and satisfaction. 

One such avenue worth exploring is nursing—a field that not only addresses the urgent need for healthcare professionals but also provides a deeply rewarding career path.

To help you make your mind up, here is everything you need to know about pursuing a career in nursing.

The Current Landscape of Nursing

The demand for qualified nurses is high. From hospitals and clinics to community health centers and beyond, nurses are essential in providing good care to anyone who needs it.

Moreover, nursing has many areas of focus and different work settings, so there’s a place for every nurse. Whether you’re interested in working with children, handling emergencies, or addressing mental health, there’s a role for you in nursing.

What Nursing Qualifications Are Required?

First, you need to decide which type of nurse you want to be. The fastest route to a career in nursing involves becoming either a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a licensed vocational nurse. While the educational requirements for both differ, they involve a lot less training than the more senior registered nurse (RN) position.

To qualify as an LPN or LVN, you’ll usually need to pass a one-year training program. The RN education requirements include at least an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN). However, a bachelor degree in nursing (BSN) tends to open more doors in terms of career progression and specialization.

Whichever route you take, you will need to apply for state licensure — which requires passing either the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) or the equivalent LPN/LVN exam (NCLEX-PN).

What is the Difference Between an RN and an LPN/LVN?

LPN and LVN programs involve a combination of practical placements and classroom lessons. They cover subjects such as first aid, basic anatomy, physiology, nutrition and practical skills such as starting intravenous drips. The responsibilities of LPNs and LVNs include:

  • Updating patient records
  • Dressing wounds
  • Bathing patients
  • Measuring vitals
  • Assisting doctors and RNs with tests and procedures
  • Maintaining and assembling medical equipment
  • Administering medication

Registered nurses perform all of the duties LVNs and LPNs do. However, RNs usually hold seniority, and they take a much more active role in research, care management and diagnoses. Degree-educated, RNs also have the opportunity to continue their studies in order to specialize in fields such as cardiology, critical care and neonatology.

How Much Will Training Cost?

Exactly how much your nursing course or degree will cost depends on a range of factors, such as the type of nurse you want to be, the college you choose and the duration of your studies. The cheapest pathways involve training to become an LVN or LPN. Local schools and community colleges tend to run these one-year courses, and charge anything from $3,000 to $15,000 in tuition fees.

If you take the degree route to becoming an RN, tuition fees can range from around $40,000 to more than $100,000 per year — depending on which educational establishment you choose. It’s therefore a good idea to be sure that nursing is for you before you commit to spending such a huge amount of money.

What Hours Do Nurses Work?

The hours you will work as a nurse will depend on a number of issues, including the healthcare provider you work for, the particular type of nursing you’re involved in and the local demand for nurses. However, you should expect to work weekends and evenings, as well as night-shifts. As every hospital, clinic and healthcare provider has its own approach to working hours, you need to establish your own shift patterns before accepting a job offer.

For example, you might be asked to work three 12-hour shifts a week. Or the terms of your contract might dictate that you work five eight-hour shifts. While the average full-time week is usually 40 hours, you might work more than that through voluntary or mandatory overtime.

How Much Do Nurses Earn?

Now is a good time to choose a career in nursing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), opportunities for careers in nursing are expected to grow by 16% between 2014 and 2024.

The BLS also reported that the median annual salary for an LPN/LVN is $59,730. Registered nurses earn a median salary of $86,070 – a figure that has risen steeply in recent years. But for nurses who specialize and diversify, the rewards are much greater. For example, a physician assistant earns a median annual salary of $130,020, while a nurse practitioner earns $128,490.

What Are the Career Prospects Like?

There is a nursing shortage in the United States. If you’re qualified, conscientious and flexible, you should be able to find employment without too much job hunting. According to the BLS, there is a growing demand for registered nurses in assisted living and care homes, as hospitals are under increasing pressure to discharge patients as quickly as possible.

Once you have qualified as a nurse, it’s up to you which career path you take. If you simply love to care for people, you might be happy working at your local hospital. But you also have the option of working in nursing homes, palliative care facilities, specialist clinics and physicians’ offices.

The Bottom Line

A career change to nursing can be a rewarding and fulfilling choice for those seeking a meaningful and impactful profession. The demand for nurses continues to grow, offering a wide range of opportunities and specializations. With the right education, training, and passion for helping others, transitioning to a career in nursing can lead to a personally and professionally satisfying path.

If you’re considering a career change to nursing, take the first step towards this rewarding career path by researching our nursing programs and reaching out to learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What qualities make someone suitable for a career in nursing?

Compassion, empathy, patience, and excellent communication are some the essential skills in nursing. Critical thinking, problem-solving abilities, and a strong sense of responsibility are also required.

Do I need a medical background to become a nurse?

While a background in healthcare can be beneficial, it’s not always necessary. Many nursing programs provide the necessary education and training from scratch, welcoming applicants from various educational backgrounds.

How long does it take to become a registered nurse (RN)?

The time to become an RN varies depending on your chosen educational path. Typically, it takes about 2-4 years to complete an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing. Additionally, passing the NCLEX-RN exam is required to obtain licensure.

What career opportunities are available for nurses?

Nursing offers a wide range of career paths, including bedside nursing in hospitals, community health, research, teaching, administration, and specialized fields such as pediatrics, oncology, or mental health.

Is nursing a financially rewarding career?

Nursing can be financially rewarding, with salaries varying based on factors such as location, level of education, experience, and specialty. Generally, nurses enjoy competitive salaries and opportunities for advancement.

What are the challenges of a nursing career?

Nursing can be physically and emotionally demanding, requiring long hours, shift work, and exposure to stressful situations. Additionally, nurses often face challenges such as dealing with patient suffering, balancing multiple responsibilities, and staying up-to-date with evolving medical practices.

How can I transition into a nursing career from a different field?

Many nursing programs offer accelerated options for individuals with non-nursing backgrounds. These programs typically build upon your existing education and experience, allowing you to earn a nursing degree in a shorter time frame.

What support is available for career changers pursuing nursing?

Career changers can benefit from resources such as career counseling, mentorship programs, financial aid options, and networking opportunities provided by nursing schools, professional associations, and healthcare institutions.


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