Quality care: Nursing careers offer ample opportunities
Helping care for the sick and injured in their time of need, a career in nursing offers both opportunity and reward.
Nurses work to promote health, prevent disease and help people cope with illness. Registered nurses (RN's) provide care, treatment, counseling and health education to individuals, families and their communities. Licensed practical nurses (LPN's) care for ill, injured, convalescent and handicapped persons in hospitals, clinics, private homes, doctors' offices and other settings, and work under the supervision of an RN, doctor or dentist.
JCC opened the new Health Laboratory Center building in 2011, offering state-of-the-art medical classroom and laboratory areas to nursing and allied health students. Top facilities help JCC provide quality education to its nursing graduates, something very important for this demanding career field. “The students are so pleased, as are the faculty,” said Peggy Comstock, JCC’s director of nursing. “It’s just bustling all the time.”
With the new building’s opening, JCC has added more seats in the nursing program. “We want to encourage people to apply because we’ve opened up some extra seats,” Comstock said.
An associate degree is a first step to becoming a registered nurse, or a certificate in practical nursing for a licensed practical nurse. Students may continue their education toward a bachelor's, master's or doctorate degree in nursing to further career possibilities. JCC offers programs leading to an associate degree in nursing for those interested in registered nurse and licensed practical nurse fields, as well as transfer programs for bachelor's degrees, and a LPN-RN program. Nursing is a second-admit program, meaning students start taking general education credits and prerequisites required for the program, then must apply for admission to the nursing program.
When considering a career in nursing, students should do a careful self-assessment, and talk with or job shadow another nurse to learn more about the career. Nurses combine a high level of knowledge and decision-making judgment in their work, along with caring and compassion for others, self-awareness, cultural awareness and ethical behavior. Communication and teamwork skills are vital. Prospective nurses need to be intelligent, have an interest in science, possess good reading, writing and math skills, and have strong interpersonal skills. Perseverance, flexibility and the ability to work well under pressure are attributes necessary for success.
As demand for nurses has diminished with the economic downturn, finding a position has become more competitive. While there is still a demand for nurses, students need to focus on professionalism and how they present themselves, Comstock said.
“The caution is now that graduates may not get their first choice, but they will probably find a job,” she said. “We expect in the next couple years as the economy improves and people who haven’t retired, do retire, there will be another surge of job openings and needs. Also with the new health insurance law with more people being insured, there will be more need.”
While the work is demanding, it also offers monetary and personal rewards. Salaries start at about $42,000 or higher for registered nurses in hospitals, according to the Michigan Department of Career Development. Licensed practical nurses' salary average is $36,816. Nurses also enjoy the personal satisfaction of helping people and alleviating pain.
“If you ask a nurse, everyone will have a story about the rewards of the job. It’s usually a family member or patient that touched you when you were down, and you didn’t realize how much of an impact you made on that person’s life because it’s just in the course of the day,” she said.
“There’s also the intrinsic motivation to continue to learn and grow. Because of the multiple opportunities available, it gives you the confidence to continue to learn.”
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