With a tough economy struggling to overcome the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, job prospects look bleak for many individuals these days, but there are hot career fields that will provide career stability and financial security for years to come. Landing a registered nurse job is perhaps the best career move many people could make these days. In 2006 there were an estimated 2.6 million individuals employed as registered nurses nationwide, and according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics the healthcare industry will need upwards of 587,000 more registered nurses by 2018. There is no better time than now to prepare for and find a registered nurse job.
Preparing for a registered nurse job can be done in as little as 18 months to two years, but most often takes two to four years. There are three educational programs that will properly prepare individuals for a registered nurse job. These programs are:
- Diploma programs
- Associate’s degree programs
- Bachelor’s degree programs
Diploma programs used to be the most popular training method for new registered nurses. These programs are offered at hospitals and nursing schools, and provide a strong clinical experience based approach to education. However, as of 2000 only six percent of registered nurses were entering the career field from diploma programs.
Associate’s degree programs are currently the most popular educational track for registered nurses. Associate’s programs can be completed in two to four years at community colleges and nursing schools, combining a basic education as well as nursing specialized coursework. Like the diploma programs, Associate’s programs offer a strong base in clinical experience.
Bachelor’s programs are becoming more and more popular among nursing students. These programs take four to five years to complete and offer students a full general education program in addition to a strong nursing specific program. While less of the program is devoted to clinical experience, Bachelor’s program students get more hours of clinical experience than their Associate’s counterparts.
Upon graduation from any of these programs, individuals are qualified as registered nurses and can therefore seek out any available registered nurse jobs. Nurses may commonly be associated with hospitals, but they are in fact employed in a number of settings that include, in order of current popularity:
- Offices of physicians
- Home healthcare services
- Nursing care facilities
- Employment services
- Government, social assistance, and educational services
While 60% of registered nurse jobs are currently located in hospitals, the majority of the growth in the job field is expected to occur in settings other than hospitals. The projected growth rate for registered nurse jobs, according to the U.S. BLS, in each setting looks like this:
- Offices of physicians 48%
- Home health care services 33%
- Nursing care facilities 25%
- Employment services 24%
- Hospitals, public and private 17%
Within each of these settings, registered nurse jobs are found in a variety of specialized areas. Upon graduation few nurses are prepared for a specialized nursing position, but with advanced education after graduation they can eventually earn advanced registered nurse jobs. Examples of specialized areas include the following:
- Acute care
- Adult health
- Public health
- Women’s health
Landing a registered nurse job is a great way to secure a financially stable future for yourself, as well as put yourself in a career field that will be stable for years to come. As the Baby Boomer generation in the U.S. continues to age and flood the healthcare system, more and more nurses will be needed to assist doctors and keep medical facilities running smoothly.