How to Become a Nurse


A career in nursing can be both rewarding and financially beneficial (photo courtesy fo Christiana Care on flickr).

The demand for Registered Nurses in recent years has remained high, but the competition for open positions is also steep. Many well-educated and experienced applicants apply for posted positions, but because of the multiple applicants it could require some patience in order to land a job. With that being said, nursing is still an excellent career choice with fantastic opportunities should one decide to pursue a career in medicine.

Job Duties

Registered nurses provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members while also coordinating and assisting with patient care. Some typical duties include:

  • Operating and monitoring medical equipment
  • Explaining at-home care post-treatment
  • Administering medicine and treatment
  • Recording a patient’s medical history and symptoms
  • Performing diagnostic tests and analyzing the results
  • Consulting with doctors and other health care professionals

Required Education

Nurses are required to have, at minimum, an Associate’s Degree. There are also educational opportunities for a Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree, but most nurses begin by obtaining their Associate’s.

Required Experience

There is not any required experience prior to entering the nursing field, but clinical hours are required throughout one’s college education.


In 2010, the median pay was just under $65,000 per year; that averages out to roughly $31.00 an hour! Obviously, salaries vary based on location and employer, but generally the financial benefits are quite rewarding.

Work Schedules

Patients in hospitals and nursing care facilities required twenty-four hour care and supervision. Because of this, nurses in these settings usually work in rotating shifts that cover all twenty-four hours. Nurses may work nights, days, weekends, and holidays, and could find themselves on-call in certain situations as well.

Nurses who work in offices, schools, or other places that provide medical care typically work normal business hours. In certain cases, only about 20% of the time however, nurses may work only part time.

Job Outlook

Employment is expected to grow 26% from 2010 to 2020, which is faster than average for all occupations. In addition, outpatient care is expected to be one of the main contributors to the growth in registered nurses. The financial pressure on hospitals to discharge patients has been creating an influx of patients needing assistance while at home, thus the increase in demand for home healthcare nurses and/or long term care facilities.


Due to the multiple types of available medical treatment, nurses, like doctors, sometimes have an area of specialization:

  • Addiction nurses: care for patients who need help overcoming an addiction
  • Cardiovascular nurses: assist patients with heart disease or recovering from heart surgery
  • Critical care nurses: work in intensive care units
  • Genetics nurses: provide screening, counseling, and treatment for patients with genetic disorders
  • Neonatology nurses: take care of newborn babies
  • Nephrology nurses: help patients with kidney-related health issues
  • Rehabilitation nurses: care for patients with temporary disabilities
  • Advanced practice registered nurses: may provide primary and specialty care

Ashley Benson is a distance education professional with five years of experience in the for-profit sector. She has worked coast-to-coast within the United States as an academic advisor, an adjunct teaching assistant and, most recently, a campus Registrar. Through formal education and industry experience, Ashley practices staying informed on the current events and changes within higher education and the students involved.

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