College Major of the Month: Nursing
Careers in the health care industry are in high demand, especially nursing. In fact, nursing ranks No. 6 on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Jobs in 2014 list. But nursing isn’t an easy-peasy college major. It requires lots of hard work, book smarts and a sincere interest in caring for other people.
My College Guide is spotlighting nursing as our College Major of the Month to help you gain insight on what it takes to succeed as a nursing major, as well as learn what career opportunities and college scholarships are available for nursing majors.
What jobs exist for nursing majors? A nursing major prepares you to become a Registered Nurse. Nurses work at hospitals, doctor’s clinics, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities and schools.
Nurses must have compassion and excellent communication and organization skills, as they coordinate patient care, educate patients about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support for patients and their families.
What are the education and licensing requirements for nursing majors? The college curriculum for nursing majors is rigorous. You’ll likely take courses in anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry, nutrition, psychology and social and behavioral sciences. All accredited programs also require supervised clinical experience, where you observe and work in a hospital or clinic setting. Many college programs also have simulation laboratories where you can practice skills prior to working in the field.
Most nursing jobs today require at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing. You also have to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) after you graduate in order to qualify for entry-level positions. States may have additional licensing requirements.
How much do nurses make? The average starting salary for nursing graduates is $55,800, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ April 2014 Salary Survey. The median annual salary for registered nurses is $65,470, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
How can I prepare in high school to be a nursing major? Taking science and anatomy courses, especially AP or honors courses in those subjects, can help prepare you for the rigorous nursing curriculum in college.
Also, to help make sure nursing is a good career option for you, volunteer at a local hospital, doctor’s office, nursing home or a local chapter of the Red Cross. Or, ask a nurse you know if you can job shadow him or her for a day to see what the job is really like.
What scholarships are available for nursing majors? Check with local hospital and health care systems and their foundations to find local nursing scholarships. Organizations like the Red Cross and businesses (such as medical supply, health insurance and pharmaceutical companies) offer scholarships, too.
NursesLink.org offers a $1,000 scholarship to nursing students. Plus, Johnson & Johnson’s DiscoverNursing.com website provides a list of more than 300 college scholarships available to nursing majors.
Image credit: Courtesy of College of DuPage, Flickr
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