Choosing a Nursing Career Opportunity


Recently I had the opportunity to sit and talk to a high school student who is interested in nursing.  She had shadowed a nurse in a hospital as part of a job shadowing project at school.  She spent a couple of hours on different units watching and asking questions. I spent time talking to her about choosing a nursing career opportunity.

We didn’t do that when I was in school but instead, I served as a volunteer Candy Striper.  This opportunity gave me a clear vision of what it was like to be a nurse.

She chose the career’s she was interested in and then visited those areas.  The only areas of nursing she knew about were the ones she saw on TV.  Of course, she visited emergency room and intensive care units.

The goal of the project

The goal of the job shadow project is to assist the student in career choices.  When students get into the sophomore and senior years they start to think about what comes after graduation.   By visiting job sites and speaking to those who work in the profession they get the real scoop.

The visit is an opportunity to have a Q & A with the nurses in the trenches. She shared that she asked basic questions and the nurses gave the best answers they could to be helpful.

Questions to make a sound decision

Each student came up with the questions they wanted to ask.  While talking to her it became evident to me that she didn’t have any idea what a workplace environment is like. In my opinion that limits the information, they might glean from such the project.

With the nursing shortage, it’s important to help young students understand how challenging it can be.  Most students who have worked while in school work part-time.  They might work in fast food, department store retail or even some office work.  Certainly not a good representation of what nursing career work can be like on any given day.

Types of questions

I asked her what were the questions she asked.  I had her tell me the questions but not the answers since I was just curious what her interest was.

She wanted to know what they loved and hated about the job.  What is the pay for a nurse?  Of course the question they all want to know why did the nurse go into nursing.

I did tell her that most people work for a living today.  Some of us get lucky and get to have a career doing what we love.  The “job” then is more of a career.

My answers

As far as I am concerned the best career choice for anyone is nursing.  There is a guaranteed job opportunity for any nurse since there is a national nursing shortage.  A shortage means there will always be a job but not necessarily the job you prefer.   The opportunities are unlimited for nursing.

Once you become a Registered Nurse the world is your oyster.  There are only two reasons you would not be happy with your nursing career.  One is your will to try and the other is your flexibility for change.

RNs can change

As a nurse, you are never stuck in a position you are not happy working.  You can change your job, your environment, your responsibilities and your career without any additional formal schooling.

You might have to get on the job training or additional certification for a position you desire.  But you are not required to get an additional degree or diploma from a formal institution.

Some people feel stuck in the choice they made.  They may or may not like the job they chose but because of the time, energy and expense of making a change they stay in a job they are not happy working.

Unlimited choices

We talked a bit about some of the many nursing career opportunities available.  Aside from working in a hospital or doctors office think about choosing dialysis or hospice.  Maybe you like the excitement of trauma then ER or flight nurse is where you might want to be.  Personally, I chose forensic nursing and then working in a correctional facility.

There were so many to talk about and I did not want to overwhelm her so I told her the first step is a nursing program.

Last but not least

As a nurse, there is so much room to grow.  You can climb the corporate world of nursing but that means more education with a Bachelors, Masters or Doctorate in nursing. Just name one other career with so many opportunities with minimal sacrifice.

My mom always told me that for any career you will get out of it what you put into it.  You will go as far up that ladder as possible with just a little effort and fortitude.  The rewards of nursing are many and each and every day is new and different.

Here are more tips on Choosing the Right Nursing Job



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Cheryl Roby, RN

Cheryl J. Roby is a Registered Nurse and retired US Army Reserve Nurse Major. She has more than 30 years of nursing experience and 26 years of military experience in the Army Nurse Corp. During her nursing career, she has traveled as part of her military experience visiting many of the 50 states and to South Korea. She was trained as an Army Medic during the Vietnam era and later as an OR tec. She went on to become a Licensed Practical Nurse and then completed her nursing training as a Registered Nurse. She was then commissioned as an officer in the Army Reserves. She appreciated the challenge of working in various specialties and expanding her clinical and professional skill sets. Her time in the Army Reserves and California National Guard gave her the opportunity to travel to most of the 50 states and work in other medical facilities. During her career, she had the opportunity to work in several specialties to include, OR, Occupational Health, Hospice, Sexual Assault Team, Forensic/ Correctional Nurse, Nurse Case Manager for developmental disabilities, Parish Nursing as well as a Nurse Entrepreneur.

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