The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the necessity of nurses. If you're interested in healthcare and helping others, you may want to consider becoming a nurse.

6 Reasons to Pursue a Career in Nursing

  • The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of nursing careers.
  • A highly in-demand field, nursing offers a stable income and long-term job security.
  • Many nursing programs have relaxed their admission requirements, making it easier to get in.

This year, National Nurses Week, which normally takes place the second week of May, lasted the entire month as part of the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. And what an opportune time for this to happen.

Over the past few months, nurses and other medical professionals have spearheaded the fight against the coronavirus, becoming heroes of the pandemic. Images of nurses' weary faces, bruised and misshapen from having to wear protective gear for hours on end, have dominated social media and even made headlines.

Even outside a pandemic, nurses are consistently in high demand. The graph below shows the projected growth for various types of nursing jobs from 2018-2028.

The global COVID-19 outbreak has highlighted the critical role nurses play in society. Currently, 59% of healthcare professionals work as nurses, making nursing the largest sector of health and medicine jobs.

Overall, nursing is a highly sought-after field that will likely continue to grow in demand, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. If you're interested in working in healthcare, now is a great time to consider becoming a nurse.

But before we explain why you should consider a career in nursing, let's briefly go over the three basic types of nurses and their day-to-day responsibilities.

What Do Nurses Do? An Overview

As essential healthcare providers, nurses typically work under the supervision of licensed medical doctors. Their responsibilities can vary greatly but usually include supporting physicians and other medical staff, administering medications, and performing patient assessments.

Nurses can work in an array of environments, such as hospitals, doctor offices, nursing homes, and schools. They can also choose a specialization to focus on, like dermatology or infection control.

The American Nurses Association separates nurses into three categories.

Registered Nurses

The most common type of nurses, RNs are responsible for observing and educating patients, administering medications, and coordinating care with other medical professionals. To become an RN, you'll need licensure and a college degree — typically a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN).

Advanced Practice Registered Nurses

APRNs perform similar duties to RNs but may also create patients' care plans, supervise RNs and other medical staff, and prescribe medications. To become an APRN, you'll need licensure and at least a master's degree, though many APRNs hold a doctorate. Different types of APRNs include nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists.

Licensed Practical Nurses

LPNs, also known as vocational nurses, work under RNs, APRNs, and other healthcare professionals to provide patient care and perform essential tasks, such as checking vital signs and changing patients' bandages. Becoming an LPN usually requires completing a year-long nursing program and obtaining licensure.

6 Reasons to Pursue a Nursing Career Right Now

1. Nurses Are in High Demand

For the last several years, the U.S. has experienced a widespread nursing shortage, due primarily to its aging baby-boomer population. This means that, as the demand for nurses increases, the number of nursing students must also increase to meet this demand.

[W]e are still in the midst of a national and global nursing shortage.

Globally, the nursing shortage is even more severe: A 2020 World Health Organization (WHO) report found that we need to raise the number of nurses worldwide by at least 5.9 million to meet demand.

Fortunately, past trends indicate that nursing is steadily becoming a more popular field of choice for students around the world. Between 2013 and 2018, the total number of nurses increased by 4.7 million.

Nevertheless, we are still in the midst of a national and global nursing shortage. Becoming a nurse will not only ensure ample job opportunities, but it will also place you directly at the forefront of the battle to make healthcare accessible to everyone.

2. Your Job Will Be Secure

Many consider health careers, including nursing, recession-proof. This means these positions will continue to be in high demand and offer long-term job security, even during economic downturns.

ZipRecruiter, which analyzed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, found that nursing was one of the fastest-growing fields during both the 2001 and 2007-2009 recessions. In the latter period, RNs experienced an increase of 186,680 jobs — by far the most of any field at that time.

On ZipRecruiter, nurses accounted for four of the top five healthcare jobs in
April …

More recently, Student Loan Planner named nurses and nurse practitioners two of the 10 most financially secure jobs during the COVID-19 outbreak. Despite many nurses experiencing a slight drop in income in recent months — mainly due to the lack of elective surgeries and procedures — most seem to be maintaining high job security and a generally consistent income.

And nursing jobs aren't getting any more difficult to secure, either. On ZipRecruiter, nurses accounted for four of the top five healthcare jobs in April, with some positions seeing a one-month job posting increase of more than 100%, despite the massive spike in unemployment in many other sectors.

All of this data suggests that, even with the current recession and a projected 30% drop in second-quarter GDP, nursing will continue to be a viable, well-paying field.

3. You Can Make a Positive Impact

One of the main reasons many people choose to enter the nursing profession is to help others and leave a positive impact. As a nurse, you are making a difference every day. Whether it's instructing a patient or assisting a doctor, your very presence can mean the difference between life and death.

The COVID-19 crisis has brought to light just how much we truly rely on nurses and what they do for us. Often deemed unsung heroes, nurses continually go out of their way to protect communities, care for those who are sick or injured, and risk their lives to save others. Even without a pandemic, nurses are essential to society.

If you want to amplify your impact as a nurse even further, you might consider becoming a travel nurse and working in countries that need nurses the most. According to WHO, 89% of the global nursing shortage is concentrated in lower-income countries.

Regardless of where you end up working, your impact will be felt by every person you help.

4. You Can Help Lead the Telemedicine Movement

COVID-19 has caused an abrupt and unprecedented leap toward telemedicine, i.e., the act of caring for patients virtually. Thanks to widespread stay-at-home orders, what was once viewed as an impersonal, futuristic option is now becoming part of everyday life.

As a nurse working in telehealth, you can treat patients who are otherwise unable to attend in-person appointments …

Many believe that the future of medicine — and thus nursing — lies in technology, signaling a potentially large shift in nurses' responsibilities and skill sets. As a nurse working in telehealth, you can treat patients who are otherwise unable to attend in-person appointments, and you may even help patients save money on healthcare.

5. Nursing School Admissions Are More Relaxed

Due to fears of low enrollment numbers as a result of the coronavirus, many colleges and nursing programs are accepting more applicants than normal and temporarily waiving some application requirements.

[M]any colleges and nursing programs are accepting more applicants than normal …

For example, Austin Community College has waived the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) requirement for nursing school applicants for the spring 2021 admissions cycle. Similarly, Concordia University Texas has waived its TEAS requirement for the upcoming summer and fall terms.

Other schools, such as Ivy Tech Community College, have extended testing and application deadlines, giving prospective nursing students more time to complete their applications.

If you've had doubts about your ability to get into nursing school, now is a good time to consider applying.

6. You Can Take Advantage of Free Online Health Classes

While the pandemic has left in-person education at a standstill, it's an entirely different story for online classes. Colleges are currently offering many free and low-cost online classes and resources to students, including several health and medicine courses.

If you're still on the fence about pursuing a nursing degree, taking a short class or two could help you figure out whether it's the right path for you.

Free Online Healthcare Classes

Additional Resources for Aspiring Nurses

BestColleges Best Online Bachelor's in Nursing Programs

Those thinking of becoming nurses during the COVID-19 crisis should look into these top online BSN programs.

BestColleges Nursing Career Guide

Learn more about the nursing field, including the unique skills you'll acquire, how to become a nurse, and where you can practice.