Heartbreaking stories of healthcare workers dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic are in the news every day. Exhaustion, uncertainty about when it will ease up, the devastation of witnessing a patient’s last goodbyes over video instead of being able to hold a loved one’s hand … these are reasons some may avoid the field of nursing during this time.
And yet, they all represent reasons why there isn’t a better time to enter the field.
4 Reasons to Give Nursing a Go, Despite the Pandemic
The world needs nurses now more than ever. The term “healthcare heroes” is not just lip service. Nurses, along with their healthcare worker counterparts, are truly soldiers in this fight against the coronavirus. Unfortunately, the pandemic has resulted in an expedited downturn in nurse employment.
The nursing shortage, which has long been on the minds of the healthcare community, is now projected to worsen due to COVID-19. Nurses who are simply “fed up” with the circumstances or fearful for their lives and the lives of their family members have found the risk to be too great. That concern is not baseless. However, there are benefits to entering the nursing field now — or furthering your education within the career — despite the pandemic’s fallout.
Here are the top four reasons to initiate or expand your nursing career now.
1) Supply/Demand Ratio Leans in Favor of Lucrative Opportunities
The nursing shortage means there is a multitude of opportunities opening up. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, “Employment Projections 2016-2026,” listed the Registered Nurses (RN) job category among the top occupations in terms of job growth through 2026. The report estimated the RN workforce is expected to grow to 3.4 million in 2026, an increase of 438,100 (or 15%) over that decade.
With an increase in nurse retirements and an aging population, the need to fill those nursing positions is dire — but also lucrative. Many high-demand areas are likely to offer significant signing bonuses and opportunities for overtime. Additional incentives include crisis pay, quarantine pay and extra stipends for the hardest hit facilities. There is also a need for travel nurses, so if you are able to fulfill those requirements, the payoff could be fruitful.
2) Job Security, Even in a Recessionary Era
Given the impending — and now seemingly accelerated — nurse shortage, one can be confident that a good nurse will never lack job opportunities. Not every career in a recessionary period can offer the same. It’s an especially opportune time for nurses who are pursuing higher education, such as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.
Some programs, such as the online RN to BSN program at Arkansas State University, offer completion in as few as 12 months. This allows nurses to qualify for those higher-paying jobs sooner rather than later. Online programs that were already established don’t have to suffer the learning curve many on-campus programs are currently forced to navigate.
3) Financial Support via Government-Funded Programs
COVID-19 will continue to reverberate for many months, even years. Governmental incentives have answered to some extent, and more government-funded programs prioritizing healthcare are likely on the way. If financial constraints have kept you from entering the nursing field or furthering your education, you may find an answer via this avenue.
4) Preparation for a Digital Future in Telehealth
Telehealth services were in place prior to the pandemic, but there is now an urgent demand to expand access to virtual healthcare visits. As the healthcare industry maneuvers the technological and logistical aspects of telehealth, nurses can prepare by getting as much bedside experience as possible. Those who have more hours in direct patient care will likely rise to the top of the candidate list when telehealth becomes even more mainstream.
Optimize Your Chances of Program Acceptance
While opportunities for nursing positions are diverse and widespread, there is one key challenge in filling them: the number of available nursing programs. U.S. News & World Report captured the competitiveness of the nursing school admissions process — even prior to the pandemic — in its recent article, How Coronavirus Affects Nursing School Admissions.
The article cites the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, indicating that the shortage of spots at U.S. nursing schools for the 2018-2019 school year was “so severe that more than 75,000 qualified candidates were denied entry.” Whether or not this trend continues, there are some proactive steps you can take to optimize your chances of getting accepted into any nursing program.
- Speak from the heart in your admissions essay. If you’re passionate about becoming a nurse, that sentiment will shine through.
- Study hard and keep your grades up. There are tools available for entrance exams and prerequisite classes. You don’t have to get 100% on every test, but higher grades will ensure you’re at the top of the admissions list.
- Get a recommendation. Former instructors or employees who speak highly of your work ethic, performance, people skills and empathetic nature can have a positive impact on your application.
Nursing is a fulfilling career — and a situation like the COVID-19 pandemic will never change that. If you’re seeking a rewarding life path, both financially and professionally, exploring nursing opportunities is a wise move.
Learn more about A-State’s online RN to BSN program.