How to pursue a career in nursing – plus factors to consider

How to pursue a career in nursing – plus factors to consider

Nursing is an honorable and gratifying profession that offers numerous opportunities to help individuals in need, make a positive impact on society, and attain personal growth and development. Nurses have a vital role in the healthcare industry, working in collaboration with various healthcare professionals to provide exceptional patient care, assist in disease prevention and management, and promote patient health and well-being.

Now is a great time to enter the field, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts above-average growth in employment for registered nurses, specifically 6% from 2021 to 2031. Various factors are contributing to this increasing need for nurses, including an aging populace and increased pressure on healthcare services.

In this article, we explore how to become a nurse, factors to consider, the difference between ABSN and BSN programs, and other information that’s useful for aspiring nurses.

How to become a nurse

If you’re an aspiring nurse, remember that persistence, focus, and hard work are what will take you from where you are to where you want to be. Once you achieve your goal, you’ll find the rewards of the job outweigh the struggles and stresses of becoming a nurse. There are also plenty of personal and professional development opportunities to take advantage of. Here are some steps you can take to become a nurse:

Research nursing qualifications

There are several paths to becoming a nurse, including:

  • Associate Degree in Nursing: ADN programs are commonly available at community colleges or vocational schools and typically take two years to complete. These programs offer a fundamental level of nursing education and equip students with the skills and knowledge necessary to take the NCLEX-RN exam and become registered nurses.
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing: BSN programs are available at universities and colleges, and usually take four years to complete. These programs provide an extensive nursing education that covers both theoretical knowledge and practical experience. Graduates of BSN programs are qualified to take the NCLEX-RN exam and become registered nurses.
  • Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing: ABSN programs are ideal for individuals who already possess a bachelor’s degree in a different field and are looking to transition into nursing quickly. These programs are fast-tracked, usually taking 12-18 months to complete, and provide the same level of nursing education as traditional BSN programs.
  • Master of Science in Nursing: If you’re looking to enter a specialized nursing role, such as nurse practitioner or nurse administrator, consider completing a master’s degree program, as gaining an advanced degree can prepare you for these positions.

Select a course

After researching the different nursing program alternatives, the next step is to pick the best program for your career aspirations and way of life. Some factors to consider while selecting a nursing program are:

  • Accreditation: Make sure to verify that your program has been accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
  • Location: Decide if you prefer attending a nearby school or relocating to a different city or state.
  • Cost: Take into account your financial situation and evaluate the tuition and fees for each program.
  • Program structure: Determine whether you want a traditional in-person classroom-based program or an online program that allows more flexibility.

Gain experience

Gaining practical experience through clinical rotations and internships is a critical aspect of nursing education. This hands-on exposure enables you to apply the concepts learned in the classroom to actual scenarios and obtain firsthand experience dealing with patients.

Obtain licensure

Once you have finished your nursing education, you must obtain a license to work as a nurse. The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) is a standardized test used to evaluate the proficiency of newly graduated nurses. To become a registered nurse, you must pass the NCLEX-RN exam.

Apply for jobs

Once you’ve acquired your nursing license, your next step is to secure a job and embark on your nursing career. You have various healthcare settings to work in, including clinics, nursing homes, and hospitals. With commitment and diligence, you can elevate your career and specialize in a particular nursing field, such as oncology, critical care, or pediatrics.

Factors to consider when pursuing a career in nursing

Before pursuing a career in nursing, there are several factors you should consider to ensure that it’s the right path for you. Here are some important factors to consider:

  • ● Salary and job prospects

Nursing is an appealing career option for those seeking stability and financial success. Although the average yearly salary for registered nurses depends on factors like where they work, level of experience, and what they specialize in, it’s generally above average. Besides competitive salaries, nurses typically get benefits like paid leave, generous pensions, and health insurance.

However, it’s important to consider the demands that come with the financial rewards of nursing. This occupation can be challenging, requiring long hours, including weekends. Plus, some nursing specialties may require further education or certifications, which can be expensive. Despite these challenges, many nurses believe that the financial rewards and job fulfillment make it worth pursuing.

  • ● Work environment and schedule

Nursing is a challenging and fulfilling profession that requires physical and emotional stamina, critical thinking skills, and the ability to remain calm under pressure. Nurses work in a fast-paced environment where they must manage multiple tasks, prioritize patient needs, and respond to emergencies. They may work long shifts that include weekends and overnight hours.

In addition to the physical demands, nursing can also be emotionally taxing. Nurses must communicate effectively with patients and their families, show empathy and compassion, and maintain a professional demeanor at all times. They often work with patients who are in pain, facing serious health issues, or dealing with the end of life, which can take an emotional toll.

Despite these challenges, nursing is an incredibly rewarding profession that provides the opportunity to make a positive impact on people’s lives. Nurses have the chance to form meaningful connections with patients and their families, help alleviate suffering, and promote health and wellness. For those who are passionate about helping others and have the necessary skills and temperament, nursing can be a deeply satisfying career choice.

  • ● Personal qualities and interests

Nursing is an exceptional profession that demands a combination of specialized knowledge and personal qualities. Along with technical expertise, patience, empathy, and kindness are just a few of the vital qualities needed for success as a nurse. Nurses must connect with patients on a deeper level, empathize with their concerns, and provide both emotional support and medical care. In times of crisis, they must remain composed and think critically to make swift decisions in fast-paced environments.

When choosing nursing as a career, it’s important to take into account your unique interests and abilities. Nursing offers numerous opportunities for specialization, each with its own challenges and rewards. You can choose a specialty that aligns with your strengths and interests, such as pediatrics, oncology, or critical care. By selecting a specialty that aligns with your skills and interests, you can create a fulfilling and meaningful career that positively impacts the lives of patients.

  • ● Educational requirements and costs

Choosing to pursue a career in nursing is a major decision that can alter the course of your life. This decision requires a significant investment of time and money in education and training. It’s crucial to carefully evaluate the educational prerequisites and associated expenses before selecting a nursing program. Although nursing education can be expensive, there are several financial aid options and resources that can assist in managing costs such as tuition and supplies. Thoroughly researching these options and finding a program that suits your financial situation and career objectives is essential.

Aside from financial considerations, it’s also necessary to take into account the time commitment required for nursing education. Depending on the degree level and specialization, nursing programs can take between two to four years to complete. Nonetheless, the effort and commitment required to complete a nursing program can lead to a gratifying and fulfilling career that offers job security, personal growth, and satisfaction. By thoughtfully weighing the educational requirements and costs and committing to your education and career, you can set yourself up for a prosperous career in nursing.


One of the most important decisions you’ll need to make when pursuing a career in nursing is whether to pursue an ABSN vs BSN. While an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, such as the one offered by Rockhurst University, can be completed in a shorter period of time, it has different admission requirements to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. Here’s a complete breakdown of the differences between the two programs:

  • ● Definition and explanation

If you have already earned a bachelor’s degree in a different field but are interested in pursuing a career in nursing, an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program might be the ideal option for you. ABSN programs are designed to enable students to transition into nursing quickly and can be completed in 12-18 months. These programs offer the same quality of nursing education as a traditional BSN program but in a shorter time frame, making them perfect for individuals seeking to change careers while minimizing the amount of time and money invested in their education.

In contrast, a traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program is a four-year program that provides a comprehensive education in nursing theory and practical experience. BSN programs are intended for students who are starting from scratch and desire a more extensive education in nursing. BSN coursework includes subjects like anatomy, pharmacology, and ethics.

  • ● Differences between the two programs

To embark on a journey toward becoming a registered nurse, you have the option to take different educational routes, including the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program and the regular Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. The ABSN program is designed for individuals who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field and want to enter the nursing profession swiftly. ABSN programs offer a shorter and more intensive curriculum, primarily focused on providing nursing knowledge and skills through practical experiences in clinical settings.

In comparison, BSN programs require four years of study and offer a comprehensive nursing education that encompasses both theoretical and practical aspects. Students enrolled in BSN programs learn various nursing subjects such as patient care, leadership, research, and community health nursing. In addition, they gain hands-on experience by participating in clinical rotations and internships, allowing them to work in diverse healthcare environments.

BSN programs offer a more holistic approach, preparing students for various nursing roles and providing a strong foundation for career advancement. Ultimately, the choice between ABSN and BSN programs depends on individual educational background, career aspirations, and personal preferences.

  • ● Advantages and disadvantages

Selecting the perfect nursing program can be a daunting task, and it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of each option. If you hold a bachelor’s degree in a different field, an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program may be an excellent choice for you. ABSN programs offer a fast-track path to becoming a registered nurse, with a curriculum that combines theoretical knowledge and practical experience. This can be particularly useful if you’re looking to quickly transition to a new career. However, ABSN programs are often more expensive and intense than traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs.

Alternatively, a BSN program may be a more comprehensive and cost-effective option for those seeking a career in nursing. These programs provide a more in-depth nursing education that covers both theoretical knowledge and practical experience. BSN students are required to complete clinical rotations and internships in various healthcare settings, which can provide valuable hands-on experience.

Graduates of BSN programs are well-prepared for a wide range of nursing roles and have a higher earning potential than those with an Associate Degree in Nursing. Additionally, BSN programs are often more affordable than ABSN programs, making them a more financially feasible option for many students. Ultimately, the choice between ABSN and BSN programs depends on your educational background, career goals, and personal preferences. It’s important to consider these factors before deciding.


Embarking on a career in nursing is a demanding yet gratifying journey, providing ample prospects for personal and professional development. By thoroughly reviewing the steps detailed in this piece and taking into account the factors discussed, you can make an informed decision about whether nursing is the appropriate career path for you. It’s important to bear in mind that nursing necessitates commitment, diligence, and a fervent desire to aid others. However, it can also be one of the most satisfying and enriching vocations available.

If you’re determined to become a nurse, there are numerous resources accessible to assist you in achieving your objectives. Seek guidance from other nurses, attend nursing employment expos, and explore various nursing programs to locate the one that best suits your needs. With the right education, training, and experience, you can establish a thriving nursing career and make a positive impact on your patients’ lives.

To sum up, pursuing a career in nursing entails hard work and dedication, but it’s an immensely fulfilling path that provides numerous opportunities for personal and professional development. By following the steps and considering the factors outlined in this article, you can make a well-informed decision about whether nursing is the ideal profession for you. It’s crucial to remember that nursing is a noble profession that provides abundant opportunities for growth and self-discovery.

Written by Enaa Mari

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