Due to several economic and demographic factors, the demand for nurses in the United States has been increasing for several years. Within the near future, demand for nurses is estimated to skyrocket; demographic polls have suggested that between the years of 2006 to 2016 this demand will increase over 23%.
As of May 2006, the average hourly wage of a nurse within the United States was $28.70, while the average annual income was $59,710. Today, in 2010, the average annual nursing salary has already risen to between approximately $62,450-$65,130, with an average hourly rate of roughly $31.31. The states with the highest ranking annual salaries include California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and New York. These states pay annual salaries ranging between $73,160- $83,040 and hourly wages between $35.17- $39.92. Wages such as these make nursing a viable and very much sought after career field in today’s work force, and the wages are only getting higher as demand for trained nurses increases. With nurses in such high demand and earning such enticing salaries, many men and women and considering formal schooling in these fields, however, many are not only unaware of the skills required to become employed in the nursing field, but also uncertain of how to tell if they themselves fit the profile for a nursing position.
Nursing is a demanding field both physically as well as emotionally. Nurses are required to deal with a wide range of situations from the mundane and ordinary tasks of everyday medical offices, to the frightening and shocking events witnessed by those in emergency rooms. They therefore must possess a wide range of skills, of those pertaining to both educational as well as personality or character trait qualities. They must be prepared not only to handle life or death situations, but also synonymously be able to help others through the crisis. Nurses must therefore have well honed people skills, be able to experience and fully express empathy, and compassion, comfort a patient, and be able to deal with crisis situations while remaining calm. Nurses must also be patient, willing to continuously learn and well adapt to teaching others skills and methods of handling patients, or dealing with situations. A study in the “Journal of the American Medical Association” by Linda H. Aiken, PhD, RN, also sites that 40% of nurses experience burnout during their careers. Likewise it can also be noted that nurses must be well aware of the stresses of their positions, and well educated in how to deal and cope with these stresses.
Aside from personality or character traits, candidates for nursing also must possess a certain degree of prior schooling to be eligible for enrollment in nursing programs. While prerequisites for nursing programs may differ from school to school, those looking to be accepted into nursing programs in the United States must have a minimum of a high school diploma or GED. Average to above average marks in science and mathematical skills are also often required for acceptance to most programs. Those looking to be accepted into baccalaureate programs often require more courses than associated degree programs as well. While enrolled in post secondary programs for nursing, individuals will also cover subjects of study such as anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, medication administration, ethics, and nursing theory. Depending on the level or degree of specialization within the nursing field, one may also have to pursue several years of prior post secondary preparation courses in order qualify for the intended field.