Is a Nursing Career in the Cards for You?

This Career Change Can Be a Career Opportunity

If you're thinking of making a career change, a nursing career could be just the career opportunity you've been looking for!

I am a nurse and I had a great career as a nurse and a nurse administrator for more than 20 years. Eventually, I moved on... to consumer health education writing and more general writing, like you'll find on this site.

But I have to say that I still think a career in nursing can be one of the hands-down most rewarding professions you'll ever find. Sure, it's darn hard work, and a lot of the time it feels as though it's thankless. But healthcare employers these days are paying nurses a lot closer to what they're worth and every once in a while, you'll have that "aha" moment when everything clicks and you do feel rewarded... in so many ways.

So, if you're considering making a career change, throw a nursing career into your list of options. The following article makes some great points...

Attention Job Seekers: A Remarkable Career Opportunity

(ARA) - With thousands of American jobs being lost abroad to foreign workers and record levels of unemployment in many areas of the country, it’s understandable that many young people attempting to enter today’s job market view their future with trepidation.

Nevertheless, there is at least one remarkable career opportunity that is largely unrecognized by students and others seeking a career change. That opportunity involves my profession, a nursing career, which carries this typical job description:

  • Starting salary in the $30,000 to $45,000 range.
  • Flexible hours and comprehensive benefit package.
  • Excellent job security and opportunities for advancement.
  • Challenging, meaningful and fulfilling work.
  • Employment opportunities nationwide in large cities and small towns.
  • Signing bonuses with experience.

I’m a perioperative nurse — also known as an operating room nurse — but, the above job descriptors also apply to registered nurses in many of the nearly two dozen specialties offered by the nursing profession.

Hospitals are just one of the many areas where today’s nurses care for patients. And, the versatile skills required of nurses put them on equal footing with all health care professionals.

Perioperative nurses work in hospital surgery departments, ambulatory surgery units, clinics and physicians’ offices. They are relied upon for their professional judgment and critical thinking skills. They are the surgical patient’s advocate, working closely with family members and fellow health care professionals. In short, they plan, implement and evaluate the nursing care of the patient.

An added bonus: Skills developed in a nursing career are some of the most valuable and transferable assets found in today’s workplace. This includes high tech computer and communication skills, as well as leadership, problem-solving and organizational skills.

The demands of a nursing career require a person who can be caring and empathetic, but who also is capable of making critical decisions based on available information.

To become a perioperative nurse, you must first graduate from a state approved nursing program and pass the nurse license exam to become a registered nurse (RN). State nursing programs can be either a four-year bachelor’s degree program or a two-year associate degree.

While there is a commitment to achieving the education needed to reap the many benefits of a nursing career, the good news is that there will be a job waiting when you complete your education.

The federal government estimates that more than 1 million new and replacement nurses will be needed in the United States by 2010. The current nursing shortage is expected to intensify, with nearly every state in the country (44 states) expected to have shortages by the year 2020.

There are a number of reasons for this predicted long-term shortage of nurses. The much publicized baby-boom bubble will require increasingly intense healthcare services for an aging population at a time when nursing colleges and universities are struggling to maintain enrollments. And, America’s nursing population is aging, with about one-half of the current RN workforce reaching retirement age in the next 13 years.

The shortage also feeds on itself, leading to increasing turnover because of increasing demands and fewer healthcare professionals to meet the demands. When forced to assume responsibility for more patients than they feel they can safely care for, some nurses experience emotional burnout and leave their nursing career altogether.

But, in many areas of the country, the shortage is not about the sheer numbers of nurses, but about nurses — such as perioperative nurses — who possess the needed specialties, skills and experience to cope in the increasingly complex and technologically-advanced health care arena. As national president of AORN, the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses, I am proud to say that the organization and its members throughout the country are working diligently with schools, lawmakers and others to address the nursing shortage.

Now is an excellent time to consider a nursing career. There are reports of some hospitals giving signing bonuses of up to $14,000 to attract experienced RNs. Last August, President Bush signed into law the Nurse Reinvestment Act to combat the nursing shortage. While not yet fully funded, the new law is expected to provide millions of dollars in scholarship money to attract new students into nursing.

The current nursing shortage and increased complexity of the health care system have created a broad selection of challenging career choices never before seen in the profession. There is increased compensation and increased professional respect for nurses. But what has remained constant in the profession is what attracted me to nursing 35 years ago -- the enormous personal satisfaction and pleasure that comes from helping others.

Courtesy of ARA Content

About the Author: Betty Shultz is president of AORN, the professional organization of perioperative registered nurses. The organization’s mission is to promote quality patient care by providing its members with education, standards, services, and representation. AORN is composed of more than 41,000 perioperative registered nurses in the United States and abroad who manage, teach, and practice perioperative nursing; who are enrolled in nursing education; and who are engaged in perioperative research. Perioperative nursing practice is defined as "those activities performed by the professional nurse in the preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative phases of the patient’s surgical experience."

AORN provides continuing education opportunities for perioperative nurses through seminars; clinical articles in the “AORN Journal;” and its annual Congress, which offers technical and scientific exhibits and educational sessions by speakers recognized in their fields. AORN publishes SSM-Surgical Services Management and hosts SSM Online, both featuring information about trends in management and the surgical environment. For more information about AORN, log onto AORN Online at or

So, are you ready to make the career change into a nursing career yet? I hope so, because it's a great career opportunity!

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