The Life Cycle of a Nursing Career

Lori Johnston | March 1, 2012

One of the most popular fitness instructors at my gym is a mom in her 40s who is graduating from nursing school this year. She’s a former teacher who is excited about the opportunities to work in health care, focused on being an oncology nurse.

Another friend of mine is a recent college graduate in her 20s who is pursuing her next step in her education — getting into nursing school — with hopes to be a pediatric nurse.

Both are joining females and males across the country who are seeking to fill the huge need for nurses nationwide. Being a nurse is the largest health care job, with 2.6 million registered nurses nationwide.

The government projected a 22 percent growth in registered nurse jobs from 2008-2018 (or 581,500 new jobs), and depending on where you live, the opportunities are great, in physicians’ offices, hospitals, nursing care facilities, and home health care services.

You will find three typical paths to becoming a registered nurse:

• Diploma: Typically three-year programs in hospital settings. There are only a few of these programs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

• Associate degree in nursing (ADN): Typically two- to three-year programs offered by junior and community colleges.

• Bachelor’s of science degree in nursing (BSN): Typically four-year programs offered by colleges and universities.

Before pursuing your nursing degree, you’ll want to think about your career path. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that advancement opportunities may be greater for registered nurses who earn a BSN, than a diploma or associate degree.

But nurses who hold an associate’s degree or diploma can go into bachelor’s degree programs later, too (and your employer could reimburse your tuition).

Another option is to earn your accelerated master’s degree in nursing (MSN), which you can earn a bachelor’s and master’s at the same time, typically in three to four years. If you’re coming from another career field, you may be able to earn your accelerated BSN, which last 12 to 18 months.

Through the classes and tests, externships, and other program requirements, I see in my friends their passion to care for patients and assist people, in times of trauma to prevent illness. The job opportunities in nursing often make headlines, and it takes that passion, and a commitment to earning your degree to have a vigorous career as a nurse.

In between work, family activities, volunteer commitments, and trying to have a social life, extra time is sparse. So hooray for Leap Day!

But don’t take the “nothing on Leap Day counts” mindset that the characters on “30 Rock” embraced in a recent episode. Instead, use the additional 24 hours in 2012 to plan your next career and education step. Here are some ways to make the most of these extra moments.

• Explore potential career paths. Read about possible career fields on websites, such as the U.S. Department of Labor’s My Next Move and College Surfing’s career write-ups.

• Research hot careers and salaries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provides job forecasts and reports on professions, so you can see what fields are growing.

• Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses and match them up to career fields that play to your strengths.

• Create an organized way – either on your computer, tablet, smartphone, or in a paper file – to keep all your career and college search information.

• Talk to someone already working in those career fields, through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, industry groups or existing professional connections, to make sure the job potential is there.

• Determine what types of nearby colleges and universities or online degree programs would make it possible for you to advance your knowledge in your existing industry or launch out in a new career field.

• Review your finances (it’s tax time anyway) and determine what type of financial assistance you may need to go back to school, such as scholarships, loans, and grants. See if money put into a college savings plan could help you out as well.

So celebrate Leap Day by taking time to plot out the next step in your career and education journey.

Super Bowl Showcases Career Options

Lori Johnston | February 2, 2012

The action on the field, the TV ads, and the halftime show may be getting the attention, but all of those events that make the Super Bowl such a big night require professionals to pull them off.

Here’s a look at seven career paths that help make the Super Bowl such a huge event.

1. Advertising: During the Super Bowl and the morning after, fans and viewers will be talking about the best TV ads and complaining about the bad ones. When the ads are memorable (remember the Betty White and Snickers ad from 2010 that contributed to the 90 year old’s surge in popularity?), it means ad directors and account managers have done their jobs well by bringing attention to their clients.

2. Catering: I’m still setting my Super Bowl Sunday menu, and in the midst of planning, I was blissfully dreaming of using a caterer for game-worthy grub. It’s not going to happen, but plenty of parties are employing caterers to concoct football-inspired appetizers and desserts for the big game.

3. Sports management: Earning your bachelor’s degree in sports management can lead to a variety of career options, such as helping organize big events like the Super Bowl or the Olympics, the World Cup. You can also work for everyone from professional teams to nonprofits. Some graduates work with professional athletes who are involved in charitable efforts or with teams’ fundraising efforts. Others are involved with ticket sales, plan stadium events and promotions, work with the media, recruit players and coaches, and make sure teams comply with league rules.

4. Athletic training: The professionals running out onto the field when a player is hurt can include athletic trainers, who often hold a master’s or doctoral degree. Athletic trainers provide treatment to players before, during, and after the games to help prevent and treat injuries. Other professionals, such as massage therapists, also are used by players.

5. Event planning: Celebrity-studded events are part of Super Bowl week, with some throwing their own bashes and others attending events hosted by magazines and companies. It takes a hoard of event planners to make the events happen – and to create the “it” bash.

6. Video production: Professionals with training in video production are crucial, not just for the Super Bowl (imagine being responsible for hitting the delay button if Madonna’s halftime show gets too risqué?), but for other TV events like Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl or “The Voice,” which appears after the Super Bowl.

7. Journalism: Swarms of media – reporters and editors for websites, TV and radio stations, newspapers, magazines, and wire services – are part of the Super Bowl crowd, covering the teams and madness for their readers. More than 5,000 members of the media received credentials to attend this year’s Media Day, with access to the players, and that’s before the actual reporting on the game.

That’s only a few of Super Bowl-related professions – let us know what others you see when watching the big game!

-Lori Johnston

Research Can Help Find the Right Career

Lori Johnston | January 30, 2012

Investing money and time in a college education, especially as an adult learner, needs to come with a payoff. There’s obviously the personal satisfaction of finally having that hard-earned college degree. And yes, you want to choose a career you love. That career, though, can be even more valuable when it is in a field with available jobs that pay well. That’s why researching wages and unemployment rates can be critical you’re considering career choices and college degrees.

Median earnings among recent college graduates vary from $30,000 in the arts, psychology, and social work to $55,000 among engineering majors, according to a January 2012 report by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.

Unemployment has started to come down but rates remain high, at 8.9 percent for recent graduates with bachelor’s degrees. But you’re still better off with a college degree than with a high school diploma, where unemployment is at a “catastrophic” 22.9 percent, according to the report “Hard Times: College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings: Not All College Degrees Are Created Equal.” Here’s another telling fact from the report:

“More than 60 percent of these recent college graduates who are working have landed in the healthcare, professional contracting businesses, or education sectors.”

So what majors have the highest and lowest unemployment rates among recent grads? The study says …


Architecture: 13.9 percent

Arts: 11.1 percent

Humanities and liberal arts: 9.4 percent

Social science: 8.9 percent

Computers and mathematics: 8.2 percent

Law and public policy: 8.1 percent


Healthcare and education: 5.4 percent each

Agricultural and natural resources: 7 percent

Psychology and social work: 7.3 percent

Communications and journalism: 7.3 percent

Business: 7.4

Engineering: 7.5

Life and physical sciences: 7.7 percent

How do these stats impact your thoughts about career fields and degrees? Let us know in the comments section below.