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.

Pinterest Can Inspire Education and Careers

Lori Johnston | January 17, 2012

Pinterest isn’t just an awesome social media place for craft ideas, fashion, makeup and hair tips, recipes, birthday party themes, and home design ideas (they’re fueling my dream of having a custom master bedroom closet). If you’re on Pinterest, and if you can tear yourself away from repining those things to your boards, you’ll notice that one of the categories on Pinterest is education.

A lot of the items posted on the education boards are related to children, but some are more adult-friendly and could encourage you to go back to college or pursue a new degree.

Also, if you’re a “pinaholic,” think about how much time you spend browsing other boards, such as photography, hair and beauty, fitness, science and nature, technology, and history. Your passion for one of those subjects may be clear, and it could lead you to start researching career paths in those areas that have captured your interest for a long time.

Here are some of the latest things we’ve seen pinned that can inform you about potential new careers or degrees or inspire you as an adult learner. Our links take you to the actual webpage, so that those who don’t have Pinterest accounts can see them, too.

The Bachelor’s Job Market
A social media professor (sounds like a cool job) at Syracuse University posted this insightful infographic, created by Rasmussen College, that shows the need for more bachelor’s degree holders and reasons why people don’t pursue their degree.

I’m So Much More Than Just a Teacher poster
If you’re considering going into education, whether to work as a teacher’s assistant at your child’s school or to teach in another grade level, this poster’s message may be the push that you need to head into that direction.

Albert Einstein Quotes
The inspirational sayings on Pinterest range from sassy to sappy, but if you sort through, you can find some that may be worth putting your computer, phone, or near study central for you. The ones by Albert Einstein often pop up, joining others by authors, book characters, and even created by Pinterest members themselves.

Oh, and don’t forget to check us out on Pinterest. Our Boards are a mixture of smart (College-related Infographics and A+ College Stuff) and fun (Because Bacon Makes You Smarter).

Are you on Pinterest? Tell us what you’ve learned so far. Happy pinning!

-Lori Johnston

Three Steps to Organize Your Career Search

Lori Johnston | January 11, 2012

The holiday frenzy may be over, but the new year often rings in an organizing frenzy that can eat up free time. Organizing strategies and tips that are meant for your pantry, closets, laundry room, storage spaces, and other areas also can be perfect when searching for a new career.

Here are three ways you can organize your search for a new profession (and after you’re done, go ahead, use them in your home, too).

1. Do it in intervals.
Plunging into a search for a new career can be overwhelming – just like trying to organize a year’s worth of photos, children’s art projects, or receipts for your taxes. Make time to research career options and the type of education programs you’ll want to pursue by returning to school, but don’t expect to do it all in one day. Spending a couple of hours at a time can keep you energized throughout the process.

2. Get help.
Bounce ideas of someone you trust and who will support you in your career endeavors. Whether it’s a spouse, parent, best friend, or colleague, having someone to help you during the process can motivate you, especially if you ever want to give up your search.

3. Tackle one area at a time.
In your home, you don’t want to jump from one area, like the kitchen, to the bedroom closet to the garage or the kids’ playroom, until you’re done with the other one. That just leads to chaos. To avoid a chaotic career search, start off by focusing on your passions and the types of occupations that fit with those passions (you can also take career assessments to help you with this part of the process), then go onto researching salary and job potential, then degree programs. As you tackle these decisions, set up a system by creating folders on your computer, smartphone, tablet, or in your paper files, to make sure that you lose any valuable research.

Taking these steps can help you keep focused on your career search and finding the profession of your dreams.

-Lori Johnston