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Upasana Gupta -

Nursing Career in High Demand

Expert Discusses Top 4 Reasons to be a Nurse

If you're thinking about pursuing nursing as a career, this is the time. The nursing field is one of the hottest and fastest growing in the country. According to the US News Ranking of Best Jobs, nursing ranked as the second most desired profession in 2013.

(View our listings for nursing schools, degrees, and programs)


"Today, if you have a nursing degree you will get a job anywhere and everywhere," says Linda Plank, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Baylor University Louise Herrington School of Nursing. "Also, the pay for nurses is much better than a lot of other professions and their salary continues to grow as they stay in the profession. These are very good reasons to start out a career in nursing," she claims.

Over 2.5 million nurses are practicing nationwide, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), making nursing the largest workforce within the healthcare industry. But as baby boomers age, the need for skilled nurses is even more pressing nationally.

Here are top 4 reasons why you should consider nursing as a career, based on my interview with Plank, who has spent more than 25 years in hiring, training and retaining nurses. In her prior role, Plank was the vice president of medical and surgical unit at Baylor University Medical Center, where she had a third of the hospital under her jurisdiction.

Top 4 Reasons to Become a Nurse:

1. Desire to Help Other People: From her experience, Plank finds that the number one reason people get into nursing is because they want to help others in need. "Students feel a calling and enter this profession because they care about mankind and want to help," Plank says. "Nursing is a wonderful profession for such folks to look into because everyday they help people who cannot do things for themselves."

2. Availability of Jobs: When Plank graduated from a nursing school back in the 70's, women really had just two choices one could either be a nurse or a teacher, if they went to college. Today, women have million career choices just as males do- they can be a nuclear physicist, a cardiologist, an astronaut as there is no longer a male bias which existed in the past.

"Today, the demand for nurses is huge as we are experiencing a shortage of resources in this field," Plank says."Largely because women in the 80's and 90's took up careers other than nursing and deviated from their traditional route."

In recent times, Plank has witnessed an uptake in people taking up a career in nursing because jobs are easily available for them. "At the time of graduation, 75 percent of our students have jobs and know exactly where they are going," Plank adds. "We cannot say this for a lot of other fields because of the way the economy is."

3. High Salary and Earning Potential: The pay for nurses is much better than a lot of other professions. "Our graduates , graduating this December, will start out with a base pay of $52,000 and 90 percent of them will be working a night or a weekend shift and earn $6000 to $10,000 in addition to the $52,000 because of what we call the 'shift differential,'" Plank says.

A shift differential is extra money paid to nurses for working in inconvenient time frames like night, weekend or holiday shifts. Next month, Plank will find her graduates making $62,000 easy, which is a very good starting salary for new grads.

"Nurses will definitely not be millionares unless they marry one, but will definitely earn enough to send their kids to college," Plank says. 

4. Handsome Pay Increases: A nurse's salary continues to grow unlike other professions.  In other careers like teaching, people can stay in the same job for many years and recieve very small increments of pay increase. "Most professions stay within 10 percent of their starting salary throughout their career, but a nurse's range is more like 30-35 percent," Plank says. "Nurses get a pay increase almost every year. It is very, very unusual if there is not a pay increase annually for a group of nurses."

Students can look forward to various career opportunities by taking up nursing school programs. This can translate to rewarding income, job security and challenging work environment.

In my next blog, we will discuss nursing as a vocation vs. profession- an ongoing debate within the field.