Degrees Explained: Nursing
If you’re interested in health care, are passionate about helping people and don’t mind working in a fast-paced environment, you may want to consider a career as a registered nurse. Source: Shutterstock

If you’re looking for a rewarding career that allows you to help others, work just about anywhere in the world and is diverse in nature, then nursing may pique your interest.

Nursing is an interesting profession, as nurses work on the front lines of health care and are often the first point of contact between patient and doctor when it comes to urgent medical problems.

They work collaboratively with medical practitioners, including doctors and therapists. They also work closely with patients and their families, keeping everyone up-to-date on a patient’s condition.

Nurses have a variety of tasks, depending on where they work, and their qualifications. Source: Shutterstock

Nurses’ tasks vary depending on their speciality, level of qualification and where they work (e.g. hospital, clinic, etc.). However, some of their tasks might include observing and monitoring patients’ conditions pre- and post-operation, administering medication, writing records and communicating with doctors, among others.

With such heavy responsibilities vested upon them, registered nurses can be compensated well, depending on where they work. Despite that, it’s worth noting that they work in a fast-paced environment for long hours, which can be physically and mentally draining.

While the demand for nurses is high globally, rapid changes in the industry also mean nurses must continuously upskill themselves to stay relevant in the field.

If you feel you’re up for a challenging career, nursing might be perfect for you. However, to qualify as a nurse, you’ll first need to graduate with a nursing degree.

What is a nursing degree and what does it entail?

A nursing degree is typically three years long for full-time students; you will be exposed to both theory and clinical practice, as nursing is a hands-on profession. Students will be exposed to a range of subjects, including human bioscience and physiology, child and family health care, disability, mental health, among others.

Depending on where you’re pursuing your degree, you may need to meet certain requirements prior to conducting your clinical practice.

For instance, Monash University notes that some of the mandatory compliances for students prior to undertaking clinical placements include undergoing police checks to ascertain suitability; vaccinations; and having one’s blood-borne virus status determined.

Meanwhile, upon graduation, depending on your country of residence, you may be required to be registered with certain bodies and undergo assessments or licensing exams before beginning your career as a nurse.

What are some of my possible career pathways?

Reports suggest the global demand for nurses is growing, with nurse shortages reported in various countries, including the US, UK, Ireland, among many more. While demand is strong, your career path will vary depending on your qualifications and level of experience.

Typically, some of the jobs related to a nursing degree include midwifery, pediatric nursing, gerontology nursing, emergency nursing, among many others.

But to specialise in one field, you’ll need to undertake your postgraduate studies in nursing to perform higher level duties. Some of these careers may include a nurse anaesthetist, a clinical nurse specialist, or teacher.

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Leading North American nursing schools