By Debra Wood, RN, contributor
March 9, 2012 - What are you looking for in a career? Challenge? Fulfillment? Great opportunities? Nursing offers all of this and more, according to workforce experts and leaders in the field.
In fact, when U.S. News & World Report released its first-ever edition of Best Jobs of 2012 rankings at the end of February, it ranked nursing at the top of the Best Healthcare Jobs category. And a number of nursing leaders had to agree.
Anne McNamara, RN, Ph.D., highlighted the multitude of opportunities open to nurses.
“Nursing is the best career ever,” said Anne McNamara, RN, Ph.D., dean of the College of Nursing at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix.
“It is not just a job, but a profession that is alive and constantly on the move,” said Bernnie Kennedy, RN, BSN, director of cardiology/nursing supervision at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center in Mansfield, Texas.
Eva Marie Fabian, RN, expects greater opportunities for nurses as the population ages.
“Nursing is almost a vocation,” added Eva Marie Fabian, RN, director of clinical services at the Workmen’s Circle MultiCare Center in the Bronx, N.Y. “The nursing profession gives a sense of fulfillment that you are helping people.”
Carole Kenner, Ph.D., RNC-NIC, NNP, FAAN, called nurses the backbone of health care.
Carole Kenner, Ph.D., RNC-NIC, NNP, FAAN, dean of the School of Nursing and associate dean of Bouve College of Health Sciences at Northeastern University in Boston, questions how anyone could not think nursing is the best job.
“Nursing gives an opportunity to spend time with patients and families and to feel you make a difference,” Kenner said. “Nurses are the ones who provide the backbone of health care.”
Kennedy said, “Nursing embodies the entire health care processes of diagnosing, healing, teaching, patient advocacy and mentoring. Whereas other health care entities focus on one part or another of the healing process such as lab, physical therapy, medicine or radiology, nursing encompasses this entire continuum of care.” And, he added, people respect nurses.
“The nurse of today is dramatically different than those of the past,” added Cole Edmonson, DNP, RN, FACHE, NEA-BC, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. “The nurse of today is employing both the art and science of nursing more fully than past generations.”
Cole Edmonson, DNP, RN, FACHE, NEA-BC, said the professional practice of nursing is flourishing due to its focus on improving outcomes, saving costs, transforming systems and leading care redesign at all levels.
That includes the challenges and demands of incorporating science, other disciplines and evidence into the act of care, he explained. Nurses make a true and honest connection with their patients to achieve maximum outcomes.
U.S. News selected the “best” occupations based on the hiring demand expected for that profession through 2020, as determined by the U.S. Department of Labor; employment growth; average salary; job satisfaction; and the current unemployment rate within each industry. Its editors hope the rankings will help job seekers to evaluate careers that appeal to their abilities and needs. The magazine reported, “Even in a tough economy, nursing has flourished compared with most other occupations,” and that the country will need 711,900 more nurses by 2020.
“You can always have a job in nursing,” said Kenner, adding nursing jobs have been plentiful and have been what some families have relied on during the recession.
Edmonson called nursing “fairly recession proof” with more opportunities emerging.
Fabian also expected nurses will remain in demand, including in long-term care, where increasing patient acuity is making positions more challenging.
As the population grows older, McNamara expects more creative solutions to aging well and in place, and those initiatives will require nurses.
“The advent of healthcare reform is opening up new and yet unimagined roles for nurses at all levels of preparation,” Edmonson said. “The role of nurses in holistic care, health maintenance, wellness, and prevention has long been a hallmark of the nursing profession, but the health care agenda to date has not focused on these vital aspects or shifted any significant funding over to this area, so it remains somewhat unexplored.”
Bernnie Kennedy, RN, BSN, said nursing gives one a sense of pride knowing that he or she has provided the health care and emotional support needed by patients and families.
Nursing is open to men and women and serves mankind in all areas of the world, Kennedy said.
Edmonson added that he finds technology’s heavy influence on nursing is attracting more men to the profession.
“Nursing is one of the few health professions where you can do a wide variety of things all over the world,” Kenner said.
Nurses work in hospitals, the community, in schools, in prisons, in research, in business, in academia, in publishing and in a variety of other settings.
“You can go worldwide and work and use your skills anywhere you go,” Kenner said.
McNamara added that she has worked in orthopedics, rehabilitation, a spinal cord unit and sports medicine before academia.
“There are thousands of jobs you can do in nursing,” McNamara said. “As long as you have a basic tendency toward compassion and an interest in other humans, no matter your interest, you can go there.”
And the more education you get, McNamara added, the more opportunities present themselves.
“Nursing requires that one not become stagnant, but continue to study,” Kennedy added. “The basic foundation of nursing provides one with the tools to expand to any area where the only limitation is imposed by the nurse him or herself.”
Kennedy concluded, “To sum it all up, nursing is the best job in health care.
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