5 Things to Consider Before Entering the Field of NursingThe nursing profession is among the highest paying careers and the single largest healthcare profession according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Nursing careers include work at hospitals, social service agencies, private companies and universities.

Nursing careers offer some distinctive benefits, but some jobs may not suit your abilities and temperament. That’s why it’s important to know your career goals, the drawbacks and benefits of certain nursing jobs, how much study time is needed and the advantages of subsidizing your education through employer contributions. Things that you should know before entering the nursing field include:

1. Chart a Course to Benefit from Employer Assistance

It’s important to understand where you want to go in your career so that you can take advantage of scholarships, employer subsidies and educational and volunteer opportunities that advance your qualifications. Many hospitals, clinics, government agencies and private practices offer subsidized educational loans and grants, so you can often qualify for an entry-level job and get some help paying for further training. If you know where you’re headed, you can strengthen your qualifications with subsidized education, volunteer work and entry-level jobs that advance your career interests.

2. Choose a Career Goal

Few professions offer as many career possibilities as nursing. It’s important to narrow your choices so that you can eliminate nursing schools that don’t offer the required courses. If you’re unsure about what type of career to pursue, you can volunteer at a hospital, clinic, social center or nursing home to gain some practical experience and to find out what various jobs entail. The major nursing degrees include:

  • LPN
    Earning a diploma as a licensed practical nurse takes as little as a year and opens the gateway to extraordinary advancement opportunities that hospitals and other employers will often subsidize or cover completely.
  • ADN
    An associate’s degree in nursing takes two years and is available at local community colleges.
  • BSN
    A Bachelor of Science in Nursing is the four-year program that prepares you for entry-level work in most caregiving situations (please see: Top 10 Cheap Online RN to BSN Degree Programs).
  • Advanced Degree Programs
    Master’s and doctorate degrees allow you to advance to higher paying careers like hospital administrator, informatics nurse, gerontological nurse practitioner or pain management nurse. Nurse.org reports that administrators earn $79,064 per year, certified registered nurse anesthetists earn $133,000 and gerontological practitioners earn $95,070.

3. Know Your Ability to Deal with Patients

Nurses can’t always help every patient, so the need to compartmentalize work and private life is essential. Even the best nurses don’t know everything and can’t solve every problem. As a nurse, you’ll probably be yelled at, and people will actually pee on you. You might be required to remove a breathing tube from a brain-dead patient or watch a patient die in childbirth. The highs can be phenomenal, but the lows can be equally draining and disturbing. If you can’t keep your work and private life separate, most nursing positions won’t work for you. Lab work might be a better possibility.

4. Balance Your Life

You need to decide whether you want to go to school full-time or part-time, especially if you need to earn a living or raise a family. You also must choose whether to pursue studies at a physical college or begin by taking courses online. Remember that nursing takes a lot of study time, so you can’t just schedule all your time for work and college classes. If you have a family to raise, the problems will compound. Maintaining normal family ties and personal friendships will be difficult because there will be many demands for your time.

5. Learn How to Write a Resume

Your resume is an important tool for landing the job of your dreams, and no matter how well you do in school, you won’t land the best jobs unless you can communicate your qualifications, meet employer requirements and impress hiring managers. The educational process is the time when you should consider your resume because you’ll have access to writing experts and time to pad your qualifications or deal with any deficiencies. It’s a good idea to keep an updated resume ready throughout the educational process because you never know when an opportunity for an entry-level job or volunteer position might become available.

A nursing career offers many advantages including a vast number of choices of medical careers, high demand for the position, above-average pay and off-the-charts personal satisfaction. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the employment prospects for RNs is projected to grow by 16 percent between 2014 and 2024. Chart your course carefully, and you can take advantage of employer assistance in your education and career-advancement strategies.