Advantages of pursuing a nursing career in the Washington metropolitan area

If there is an industry with a perpetual growth rate, it’s the healthcare sector. Nursing, to be specific, is a great profession to pursue if you want to make a difference in people’s lives. It’s a rewarding, challenging, and impactful job in which you can develop your skills while working to improve patients’ health and well-being.

A significant number of nurses are now approaching retirement age, so a shortage is expected to develop in the next few years. In 2020, an estimated 22% of the registered nurses working in hospitals were 55 years old and above.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics also estimates the nursing profession will grow by 6% by 2030, making it a great career to pursue as the job market is growing faster than average. Nursing is among the most gratifying fields, and 95% of Registered Nurses (RNs) can attest to this. Many nurses find great job satisfaction and take pride in what they do.

In some states like Washington, high-quality nursing care is in demand, and it’s an excellent place to build your career in nursing. The economic, cultural, and legal factors make becoming a nurse in the Washington Metropolitan Area highly desirable – and Marymount University’s online courses can help open those doors.

The pandemic burdened many healthcare workers, nurses included, and some were pushed to early retirement while others left because of the overwhelming patient load. This made the shortage of nurses worse. According to Virginia Employment Commission, by 2028, the state needs about 7,746 RNs and 2,550 licensed practice nurses to take care of their health demands. Maryland Hospital Association reported that it had 25% vacant nursing positions in 2022, which translates to about 9,000 jobs.

That makes the Washington Metropolitan Area a great place to consider for your work as a nurse. However, regardless of your region, many job opportunities for nurses are available. Yes, most employers may be looking to hire specialists or experienced nurses, but some welcome new graduates.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimated that 130,070 registered nurses worked in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. in 2021. By 2030, the Projection Management Partnership lists that the job growth rate in Maryland will increase by 17.3%, Virginia by 8.3%, and Washington D.C. by 5.4%.

Some other factors that make the Washington Metropolitan Area desirable include

  • The annual salary of nurses in Washington is significantly higher than the national average.
  • By 2030, nursing positions in Washington are expected to grow by 39.5%.
  • Nursing practitioners don’t get full practice autonomy in most states but getting a DNP degree in Washington guarantees you full independence autonomy. This increases the growth potential for any nursing practitioner.
  • The healthcare system in Washington is one of the best in the country, making it the place to be for delivering excellent patient care.
  • A study by WalletHub revealed that Washington is the second-best state for jobs.
  • In 2019, the U.S. News and World Report ranked Washington as one of the best places to live in America based on education, healthcare, opportunities, and the economy.

That said, let’s look at other reasons to pursue a career in nursing.

Making a real difference

There is so much more to nursing than performing medical tasks. You get to make a real difference in the life of patients and their families. You’re walking with people during one of the lowest moments in life and giving them hope. You become a trusted confidante as you get to counsel patients when they’re in low spirits and celebrate together when they have good news.

Nurses also volunteer their time to improve the well-being of their communities. A survey in 2017 revealed that 74% of nurses take part in non-job-related tasks to improve the health of their community. These include helping run health-related fundraisers or donations, health fairs, medical camps, and volunteer traveling, among others.

Colleges and universities with nursing degree programs are almost everywhere

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, a good number of graduates rank health careers in the top three associate degrees. The top two are bachelor’s degrees. Most large cities have several universities and colleges offering ADN or BSN programs.

In addition to this, nurses can pursue their degrees online. There are so many accredited online nursing programs which means you can study when you’re anywhere in the U.S. Nursing is a hands-on job, so you’ll need to take in-person nursing clinicals in a healthcare setting. The only thing you have to ensure is that the online program you’re taking is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. That is important as you need to take the National Council Licensure Examination for RNs (NCLEX-RN) to get your license.

Financial aid is available for nursing students

Paying off student loans is somewhat overwhelming, and they can take decades to clear. The good news is that nursing students have access to several ways to pay their school fees. Various organizations offer grants and scholarships to nursing students. Whether you’re enrolling in an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or DNP, financial aid is available. Also, most hospitals provide tuition remission programs to their staff who want to further their education.

Nurses join the workforce quickly

Various nursing degrees give you a chance to enter the workforce relatively quickly. The icing on the cake is that you can return to school and earn your bachelor’s degree while working and making money. A BSN degree opens up more doors for advancement, and you can make $91,000 on average annually, according to PayScale.

The pandemic painted a clear picture of the demand for nursing services. With the increase in demand, salaries also increased. Nursing salaries have increased by 4% without considering overtime and bonus pay. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states there has been an average of about 195,000 job openings for nurses yearly, making nursing a wise career choice.

It’s a respectable career

For 19 years, Gallup set up more than a decade-long survey to find the most ethical and honest profession. In 2020, nursing came up as the most ethical career. The only year nurses didn’t get the highest ranking was 2001; after September 11, firefighters got the highest score. Nursing is certainly not a dull profession. Every day has its excitement and challenges. Whether you work in an organization, hospital, clinic, or office, you’re making a living doing something worthwhile.

Freedom to choose a specialty

There are many different healthcare settings, and nurses can choose from hundreds of specialties, meaning you’ll not get bored. You can opt to go with general nursing, expand to flight or transplant nurse and even pursue health policy careers. With nursing, you can also move from one specialty to another. For instance, you can be a labor and delivery nurse; however, if you wish to be a dialysis nurse, you’ll obviously need to have some education on dialysis nursing care and get some hands-on experience before looking for a new role.

It’s a stable industry with excellent benefits

Almost 85% of older people suffer from at least one chronic illness, and 60% have at least two. That has contributed to the increased demand for nurses caring for people with such conditions. Clinics, hospitals, and all other organizations that need nurses offer good benefits to attract and keep highly-qualified staff. Some nurses receive stipends for meals, some bills, and even housing.

Some of the benefits that most nurses get include:

  • Paid vacation and holidays
  • Paid family leave
  • Paid sick leave
  • Life and health insurance
  • Bonuses for overtime work
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Retirement benefits
  • Well-being programs
  • Childcare
  • Student loan repayment
  • Subsidized travel

Graduate nurses have smoother hire transitions

After graduating, nurses experience a transition as they move from academics to clinical settings. Those working in large teaching hospitals are lucky enough to have one-year residency programs created to help new nurses have a smooth transition. While there is a shortage of nurses in America, getting a premium job is not as easy. You can improve your chances by accepting internships and working while in school to get hands-on nursing experience. It might be a little overwhelming, but many have done it. Incorporate mindfulness and meditation into your daily routine to help you cope with stress and enhance your attention and awareness. This way, you’ll apply for your first job with volunteer experience and a rich professional network.

Nurses collaborate with other healthcare professionals

Nurses are the only consistent healthcare teams who always stay by the patient’s bedside. They must collaborate with other healthcare professionals to improve patient care and health. A nurse is at the center of all patient activities. They keep tabs on all the other patient care recommendations from the rest of the healthcare team and know how each plan improves the patient’s condition. They are in an environment of continuous learning, networking, and building their knowledge base.

Leadership opportunities

The skills nurses learn when interacting with other healthcare professionals and caring for patients equip them to grow in their careers. One can be a charge nurse in the unit, monitoring staff, assigning schedules, and ensuring patient care while making decisions during the shifts. Nurses with solid leadership skills can take positions as unit managers, clinical nurse leaders, patient care directors, and other administration positions. Other leadership positions include clinical specialist, case manager, and advanced practice nurse. As a nurse, you’ll have various avenues to take on additional responsibilities that will see you climb the career ladder.

How to become a nurse in the Washington metropolitan area

If you want to switch careers, you may wonder how to tap into this big opportunity and become a nurse in the Washington Metropolitan Area. To become a registered nurse in this part of the country, you must go through three steps. First, get a degree, pass the license exam and apply to the state board of nursing to get a license to practice.

The nursing education institution you attend will inform the state nursing board when you finish your study program. The licensing boards in Washington Metropolitan Area include the Maryland Board of Nursing, the D.C. Board of Nursing, and the Virginia Board of Nursing. The board will contact you and inform you if you’re eligible to take the National Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). You’ll sit the exam a month after graduation.

If you pass the required score, you can apply for work with your application form and fees, educational transcripts, criminal history checks, NCLEX-RN results, and proof of completion of the Child Abuse Recognition and Reporting course.

All the best as you start your career in the Washington Metropolitan Area!

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