It’s no surprise that many people consider nursing when choosing a career path, since nurses are in such high demand and health-care is one of the most recession resistant industries. However, nursing is a mentally, emotionally and physically demanding occupation. Students and career-changers should think carefully before deciding to enter the field. To help those considering nursing, I interviewed Eddie Moore, a college nursing instructor, to find out about nursing school and realities of the nursing profession.
How long have you been in the nursing field? Where have you worked?
32 years. I have worked in three local hospitals, the state health department for 3 years. I have worked for two different private home health agencies and 2 nursing homes. I have been a nursing instructor since 1992.
Of the jobs you’ve had, which did you like the most and which did you like least?
I least liked working for one of the private home health agencies and I like working as an instructor the most.
What made you decide to become a nursing instructor?
I became an instructor because I had always thought I’d like it even when in school. Plus, I like the hours and the pay is good too.
What are the characteristics of a good nurse?
Reliability and competence. You need a sense of humor and a good attitude. You have to be willing to work with difficult people at times.
What are the wrong reasons to choose a career in nursing?
Money. It pays good but not great. Don’t chose it thinking it is glamorous like on TV. Mostly, it is not.
What are the right reasons to choose a career in nursing?
It is very interesting work most of the time. The pay is good and some jobs pay very well, but money alone is not a reason to choose this profession. There are usually jobs available even in a down economy.
What is required for entry into the nursing program where you teach?
You need to be good in math and science. These courses are required for entry. An ACT of 18 is required but you really need a 21 to get admitted. There are usually about 500 applications for 130 or so spots. A C in Anatomy and Physiology 1&2 is required before admission. Most students spend a year getting pre-requisites.
Any advice for potential nursing students?
My advice to potential students is to check out nursing before entering the program. Most high schools have programs that allow students to work in medical related fields. Do this or volunteer in the local hospital and see if it is really what you want before investing a lot of time.
Do you have a lot of career-changers in your program? Are there advantages to being an older student?
A lot of our students are career changers. We have cops, chemists, and a psychologist in the current class. Older students seem to be more motivated and don’t have some of the issues that younger students have. For example, they don’t have the pressure to party and have fun and not study.
What is nursing school like? Is there a lot of hands-on experience in your program?
There are lectures in nursing school, but most of it is hands on. There are clinicals in actual hospital settings, the skills lab where students practice skills with real equipment, and the sims lab–where students practice clinical sims with a life like sim man/woman.
Where can nurses work besides hospitals and doctors’ offices?
Nurses work in many areas. Factories, research facilities, and most colleges hire nurses to manage clinics to treat students. Home care agencies and cruise ships hire nurses. Drug companies hire nurses as sales people and as phone consultants for patients. The military has a huge demand for nurses.
What are the educational requirements to be come a registered nurse?
The minimum requirements are an Associate’s degree in nursing and pass the state board exam.
Where do most nurses work just out of school?
Most nurses coming out of school work in hospitals first. Many agencies won’t hire new nurses until they have had some experience. Our state health department, for example, requires two years clinical experience for a nurse to be hired.
Why do you think so many new nurses leave the profession?
Most nurses leave because they either “burn out” or they never realized what working all hours, weekends and holidays was like when they were in school. Also, nursing is used as a “stepping stone” profession by some–going into administration or other related fields.
As a male in a female dominated field, what advice would you give to men who are considering a career in nursing?
Men should consider that nursing has a lot of advantages for them. Nursing pays well and overtime work is readily available. There is great job security even in recessions. It also offers the chance to get into many other related fields, such as anesthesiology. Also, becoming a Nurse Practitioner is an option. Nursing is such a female dominated profession that sometimes being in the minority is beneficial–some employers are looking to balance staffs with more men.