Do you love caring for people? Are you interested in science and health care? Do you want a rewarding and flexible vocation choice? Nursing may be right for you. Nursing is the fastest-growing occupation in the United States. Nurses make up the majority of the healthcare industry, and that number is going up, with 581,500 more nursing jobs by 2018. Why? There are a lot of reasons, including an aging population and a shrinking nursing workforce.1
Recently I asked some fellow nurses from church what inspired them to become nurses. One nurse told me that she always wanted to be a nurse and decided on Pediatrics during nursing school. Another, as a result of caring for her older brother with special needs as she was growing up, was motivated to become a nurse. Yet another received a serious foot injury at age 8 and wanted to be just like the wonderful nurses who cared for her at that time. Nursing jobs attract natural caretakers and those looking for rewards beyond salary.2
For as long as I can remember I, too, always wanted to become a nurse. My Mom had been a nurse at Butterworth Hospital when I was small and worked in the Pediatric Department. I wanted to be a nurse just like her. During my high school years I worked as a nurse’s aide at Brookcrest Nursing Home, which gave me valuable insight and experience in caring for others as I served the elderly in this setting. After high school I chose to pursue my Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) because at the time I had no marriage plans in my immediate future. During this time I then spent some years as a home health aide in college. Much of this time was spent caring for terminally ill patients in their homes or those who had no one else to provide care for them in their later life. When I became a student nurse in college and worked in the Obstetrics and Pediatrics area of the hospital the decision was made, and I chose Pediatrics as my area of specialty. I had always loved babies and children, so Pediatrics was a perfect fit.
Since then I have worked in general pediatrics, pediatric surgical care and most recently in the area of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology. One of the many lessons I have learned on this newest floor is that in spite of a diagnosis of cancer and all the fears that go along with it the thing that these children need the most is to play and smile and do the normal things that all kids do. In spite of frightening technology, chemotherapy, radiation and generally feeling crummy, a smile and a kind word can change the course of a day. What a lesson this can be for all of us. Patients face daily battles head on and their strength and spirit is amazing. They are a constant source of inspiration to us who care for them!
If you think you may want to be a nurse, volunteering at your local hospital, outpatient facility, or doctor’s offices is a great way to see what it’s like. As you face the question of whether nursing is the vocation for you, it is important to be aware of the classes you can take in high school. Taking these classes will give you a head start on your nursing prerequisites for college:
- English: 4 years
- Math: 3-4 years(including algebra and geometry)
- Science: 2-4 years(including biology and chemistry; physics and computer science are recommended)
- Social Studies: 3-4 years
- Foreign Language: 2 years(recommended, but not required)
College requirements for nursing can vary from a 2 year to 4 year program. An ADN (Associate’s Degree in Nursing) is a 2 year degree offered at community colleges and occasionally a hospital based school. A BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) is a 4 year degree offered at colleges and universities. The current trend in area hospitals is a preference for nurses who have obtained their BSN. A Masters degree in Nursing ( MSN) requires 2 additional years of training above the BSN. Many masters-prepared nurses go on to pursue leadership and management positions as well as PhD degrees in order to teach and instruct new incoming nurses. These degrees add to the opportunities available to a nurse even if he/she is no longer able to deal with the stress and strain of bedside nursing. More highly educated Nurse Practitioners are increasingly seen in the medical field as well. NPs can serve as a patient’s primary health care provider, and see patients of all ages depending on their specialty (family, pediatrics, geriatrics, etc.).
Practical benefits of a vocation in Nursing
There are many practical benefits to one who holds a nursing degree. The job of a nurse can be performed in any state across the country. Nurses are needed worldwide and wherever the Lord may lead you in your adult life you should be able to find employment in the field of nursing. The flexibility of hours worked and scheduling is another benefit. Nursing is a vocation that requires employees to work 24 hours of the day, and because of this there are many options available to choose from. The areas in which to specialize as a nurse are too many to list here. Whatever area interests you the most can be pursued. Some choose to specialize in adult nursing, intensive care nursing, emergency medicine, care of the elderly, care of children. Still others may choose to work outside of a hospital setting. About 60% of nurses are employed in hospitals but other settings include nursing homes, medical offices, ambulatory care centers, community health centers, schools, clinics, camps, prisons, tourist destinations, disaster areas, and sporting events.3 For the nurse, each day offers new opportunities and challenges. If you are the type of person who does not like to do the same thing day after day you will be challenged even hourly in your vocation. The job is never the same each day. The job can be fast paced and change minute by minute.
Nurses are privileged to accumulate vast amounts of medical knowledge for use later on in life. For example, you can use your knowledge when your own children become ill, in educating others who ask for medical advice, when someone is injured at your son’s ballgame, or when someone falls ill while you are relaxing at the beach. The knowledge that you will gain will prepare you for a lifetime of helping and being of service to others.
Responsibilities in Nursing
The job of a nurse includes many aspects of physical support. Nurses interpret patient information and make critical decisions about needed actions. Nurses are responsible for administering medications and taking vital signs, changing dressings and treating wounds, charting and communicating with other medical personnel. These things are all part of your job as a nurse. But there is also an important emotional aspect for a nurse to be concerned with. Providing proper emotional care and support for your patients but also to their families who are in a time of need is a vital aspect of the job of “being a nurse”. Serving others must be in the heart of a nurse. Compassion for others…caring and empathy. Doing this to the best of your ability and the performing of your duties with God’s glory in mind can be very rewarding. In times of illness and crisis the opportunity to pray with a patient and family, to speak of your Lord and Savior, and to share Scripture can be welcomed openly and eagerly. I have had many such opportunities over the years to minister to families and patients during difficult times. Speaking of Christ, whether in a brief word, a Bible passage or a short prayer can be a very powerful and moving witness to others in times of fear, sadness or anger, and even at the time of impending death of a loved one. During such a time your witness of Christ may bring solace and comfort to a hurting family or individual. Your witness can make a difference!
If you enjoy teaching others, patient education is also a large part of the role of a nurse. There are many opportunities for teaching – teaching about medication dosages and side effects, demonstrating procedures to be performed in the home, educating persons regarding disease processes and the follow-up care at home.
Nurses also have a great ethical responsibility to uphold. Nurses are called to treat each patient with compassion and respect regardless of the way they choose to treat you and regardless of the reason they are being treated. Nurses are called to maintain patient privacy and the confidentiality of patient medical records at all times.
Some positive aspects of a vocation in nursing include flexible hours, the accumulation of medical knowledge, invaluable life skills for a mother or a father, and the opportunities for personal witnessing to others in time of need. Due to the flexibility of scheduling for nurses, those of us who are mothers are able to keep up our nursing license year after year and use this vocation in many ways over the course of a lifetime.
Yet nursing requires sacrifice as well, and some would tend to think of this as a negative aspect of the vocation. It is not a job you can leave on the desk to finish up tomorrow morning! Care of patients may require you to stay well past the time your shift has ended. And the day may not even end there. So many times you take home the memory of what you encountered that day. The impact of human suffering and distress creates an emotional burden which must be dealt with each and every day by a nurse. Lives are entrusted to your care. People are depending on you to do the right thing and to provide the best possible care available. And a hospital never closes. People need to be cared for on weekends, holidays and all night long. There must be a commitment on the part of a nurse to work those night shifts and miss out on Thanksgiving dinners because of the vocation which he/she has chosen to perform.
A nursing vocation can bring the satisfaction at the end of the day that you have been busy in the work of serving and helping others. Nursing is an emotionally fulfilling and rewarding vocation. Nursing provides that chance to help others in time of need, to promote their welfare and bring smiles to their lives in a time when they may need it the most. If you have a heart for nursing I would strongly encourage you to choose this field for your vocation.
- http://www.discovernursing.com/why-be-a-nurse#.UAmRe7QV15s. Johnson and Johnson, 2012. Web. 6 July 2012.
- http://www.happynews.com/living/business-life/people-choose-nursing-career.htm. N.p., 2008. Web. 6 July 2012
- http://www.nursingworld.org/Content/EspeciallyForYou/StudentNurses/RNsAPNs.html. American Nurses Association, 2012. Web. 6 July 2012.