Video Advice From a Nursing Expert

This five-part video series features Caroline Porter Thomas, a registered nurse and author working in Miami, Florida. Caroline is passionate about empowering new and prospective nursing students and sharing a taste of what it’s like to work in this rapidly growing field of healthcare. In her videos for RNtoBSN, Caroline tackles our readers’ most pressing questions.

Whether you’re currently working as a nurse, enrolled in nursing school or just considering nursing for the first time, Caroline’s videos have something for you. Choose a video below to get started. If you prefer to scan, a full transcript of each video is included or you can hover over the top left corner of the screen to turn on closed captions.

If you have any questions or feedback about the video series, reach out to us at videos@rntobsn.org. Please note that your questions may be featured on our website; no personal information will be shared.

Videos

caroline_photo_videolanding Caroline Porter Thomas, BSN, RN
Learn more about Caroline

1. Why Nursing Now?



Takeaways

  • Nursing is one of the fastest growing careers in the country. According to the BLS, 19% more nursing positions are set to open up by the end of the decade.
  • Nursing cannot be outsourced. Nurses deliver hands-on care that cannot be delivered by a machine or by personnel working remotely.
  • Physician shortages are creating higher demand for nurses. One in three practicing U.S. physicians expects to retire in the next 15 years, nurses are already taking on expanded roles to meet the demand.

Transcript

Hi. I'm Caroline, and I'm a registered nurse from Miami, Florida. In this video we're going to discuss the exciting opportunities that you can have with a registered nursing degree.

As a nurse, I've seen many opportunities come to me in all different kinds of ways. However, a lot of people just starting college ask whether nursing is a good profession choice for the future and now.

So in this video, I'd like to refer to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The career outlook for registered nurses is bright, according to the BLS. Registered nursing tops the list for occupations that are slated to witness tremendous growth through 2022, with 19% more nursing positions set to open up at the end of the decade, or a total of 535,000 new positions.

This growth rate is much higher than those projected for most US professions. The incredible need for morenurses in years to come is due to two major factors -- one, the expansion for health care access under the Affordable Healthcare Act, and two, the aging baby boomer generation. The demand for RNs with a bachelor's of science and nursing is especially bright. I'll talk more about that in video three, "Where Do I Start?"

Nursing cannot be automated or outsourced. Many jobs are being automated or delegated to personnel overseas at a dramatic cost savings. Nursing is one job that cannot be outsourced. From Daniel Pink's New York Times best selling book A Whole New Mind, here is a quote:

"The growing recognition of empathy's role in healing is one reason why nursing will be one of the key professions of the conceptual age workforce.

Nurses do much more than just empathize, of course, but the sort of emotionally intelligent care they often provide is precisely the sort of thing that's impossible to outsource or automate. Radiologists in Bangalore can read X-rays, but it's hard to deliver empathy, touch, presence, and comfort via fiber-optic cable. Physician shortages are opening up new opportunities for nurses."

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, one in three practicing physicians is expected to retire in the next 15 years, which will drive the need for more nurses, especially advanced practice nurses. From Johnson and Johnson Campaign for Nurses, fewer professions give you as many choices of where to work, areas to specialize in, or degrees to use.

The range of nursing specialties is almost as varied as the personalities of nurses themselves, so no matter what kind of person you are, there's a place of nursing for you.

My experience.

In my personal journey, just from having my nursing license, I've had so many opportunities come my way. One day I was working the emergency department, and I was offered to apply to an insurance company.

I was also offered a job by a private aid company to be a manager. My role would include assessing new patient's needs for care and providing them with capable patient care assistance staff.

A lot of my friends in college pursued different degrees and were unable to find jobs in their profession, but I actually found that with my degree as a registered nurse, it opened up a lot of doors, and I had no problem finding a job at all.

So every day I say to myself, I am so glad I chose nursing.

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2. Is Nursing For Me?



Takeaways

  • Nursing is a diverse field. Just over half of nurses work in hospitals, the rest fill a variety of roles in clinics, companies and schools throughout the country.
  • There isn't one specific type of personality you need to be a nurse. Roles and work environments are as varied as the nurses who staff them and it takes a mix of personalities for a team to be successful.
  • You probably already have what it takes to become a nurse. Caroline explains how to overcome the biggest obstacles new nursing students face.

Transcript

Hi, I'm Caroline. And I'm a registered nurse from Miami, Florida. In this video, we're going to discuss whether nursing is a good profession for you.

Nurses do exciting and amazing things every day. I truly think that nurses are some the smartest people in the world. Great things about working as a nurse are -- touching other people's lives; three days on, four days off; stability; working out while you work; tons of walking and being active; an exciting atmosphere; and you're always learning.

When most people think about nursing,they think the traditional hospital nurse. Opportunities in the hospital are large, and it's where over 60% of the nurses work, according to the BLS, with jobs including, but not limited to, med surg, telemetry, emergency department, ICU, PCU, NICU, CCU, surgical departments, and more.

There are also numerous opportunities for RNs, including, but not limited to, outpatient surgical centers, public and private school systems, such as school nurse. Home health care is another option if you're comfortable in a home setting. Pharmaceutical and medical supply companies are constantly on the lookout for other consultants.

There are jobs for research nurses and nursing educators. Nurses work in the psychiatric field. Nurses can conduct physicals as underwriters with an insurance company. Or if you want to serve our country and get a great nursing and leadership experience, you could join the military and be a military nurse.

Professional advancement is another exciting possibility we'll discuss in another video. These opportunities include master's or doctoral advanced degree options to earn credentials to become a nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife.

What does it take to be a nurse?

Since 2008, I've been answering the questions of thousands of prospective nurses. I've found that there are many concerns that were not directly related to the educational requirements or the outlook of nursing. The most common questions I get are variations on one question -- can I do this? Here are a few of my frequently asked questions.

Are nurses disrespected?

My experience has been that, yes, there are certain instances where you can temporarily be treated unfairly. Maybe if a family member is upset about their loved one's situation, they can take it out on you. Or if a doctor is being unprofessional, it can seem like he or she is taking out their anger on you.

However, for the most part, it is actually the opposite. I do think that nurses are recognized for the hard work that they do. And when I tell people I'm a nurse,they're usually pretty impressed.

Can I handle the responsibility associated with being a nurse?

This is also a question that I get a lot from prospective nurses who are scared to have so much ability to make a critical mistake. There is no easy way to answer this question. Yes, we nurses have to live with the fact that it's possible to make a mistake that could dramatically have a bad effect on someone else's life. The way I look at it like this -- I keep that fear inside of me alive, because it helps me stay alert. But I focus on how I can positively impact other people's lives.

What types of personalities excel in nursing?

What's really cool about nursing is that there is no one specific personality that you have to have in order to be a great nurse. I think that a mix of personalities is a must amongst nursing staffs. There have been a lot of times when I've seen a unit that's been unequally yoked with too many introverts or too many extroverts.

And there are different problems that can be associated with each. If you are introverted, you will have no choice but to get out of your shell. Or if you're super extroverted, you will need to learn when it's appropriate to act a certain way. Since we are pretty much in the service field, we need to find ways to help our patients and family members feel safe, comfortable, and taken care of. This forces us to grow individually and accomplish the best outcome for our patients, whatever that may be. I truly think that nursing is a great way for our best selves to emerge.

How do nurses cope after losing a patient?

As a nurse, we will be with patients and family members at these crucial times in their lives. Losing a patient is a very real possibility and something that all nurses will most likely experience. There is some sweetness to be found, though. While helping your patients and their family members before and after such a loss, clear, responsible communication and empathy can make an enormous difference in the healing process.

I feared moments like these as a new graduate tremendously. However, once I became a nurse, I realized that I'm much stronger than I thought. Of course, losing a patient will never be something that I'll totally get used to. But I will say that helping patients and their family members through their toughest times has taught me invaluable lessons and given me a sense of purpose and pride in the everyday work that I do.

I'm not good at math; can I still become a nurse?

In the eighth grade, I was told that I had a learning disability and was held back an entire year. I also struggled in high school. In order to graduate on time, I attended three summer school sessions and ended up graduating with a C average. I never thought that I would go back to college, and I didn't for five years.

But when I decided I want to become a nurse, I was determined to find a way how. It started out rough, and I even had to take remedial classes to get prepared for college level coursework. But my heart was really into it, and I had a strange feeling deep down inside that I was destined to overcome these major obstacles and reach my dream.

My hard work paid off. Eventually, I applied to the BSN program with a 3.7 GPA and graduated nursing school with honors. What I learned from all this was that, where there's a will and you'll push yourself, you will find a way.

Prior to starting college, math was my weakest strength. And after, it was my greatest. I really hope that I can put things into perspective, because, at one point, I felt like I was the last person that would be able to succeed in nursing school. But if I can do it, so can you.

I hate blood; can I still become a nurse?

This is one question that I had a lot when I was considering whether or not I could become a nurse. Ultimately, after taking anatomy and physiology and learning how amazing our bodies are, it really just put things into perspective for me. Instead of viewing blood as gross and dirty, I started thinking about the amazing cellular properties that blood cells possess, including, but not limited to, oxygen carrying capacity and carrying out carbon dioxide. And every part of our body is healthy and vital for these amazing things.

One thing also that I realized was, when I was doing a procedure that involved a little bit of blood, I realized that my empathetic nature would start to feel what the patient was feeling. And so let's take, for example, if I was starting an IV. When I first started starting IVs,what I would do is I would get so scared because I would just feel all the things that the patient might be going through.

But after a while, I realized that that wasn't such a great thing for my patient,because my nerves were just getting the best of me. I would start sweating and have inability to focus. So what I realized was thinking in the form of steps helped me get out of my empathetic nature and complete the procedure properly.

I'm older; is it too late for me to become a nurse? What is the best age to become a nurse?

Can I become a nurse in my 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s? If there's one thing that I've learned about being a nurse for six years, it is this -- age is just a number. What is more important is your health, vitality, and willingness to take on new challenges.

I do think that nursing will make and keep you young. I don't subscribe to the popular belief that nursing can wear you out. As nurses, we are constantly on the move. It's crucial to stay sharp, fit, and focused to do your job well.

So if you want to become a nurse, stop wondering what your life would be like and just go for it.

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3. How Do I Become a Nurse?



Takeaways

  • Aspiring nurses can choose one of three educational paths. You can qualify for the NCLEX exam with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), a Diploma RN or a Bachelor's in Science of Nursing (BSN).
  • Ultimately, a BSN degree should be the ultimate goal of new nurses. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) now advises employers to recognize a BSN as the minimum educational requirement in nursing.
  • There are faster ways to get your BSN. Those who already hold a bachelor's or are already RNs can enroll in an accelerated BSN bridge program. These programs can typically be completed in two years.

Transcript

Hi. I'm Caroline, and I'm a registered nurse from Miami, Florida. In this video, we're going to discuss the many different ways you can become a nurse.

I hear it said all the time, "I want to be a nurse." To the average person, there may be nothing wrong with this statement and they may think it could be an easy process. But honestly, the process of becoming a nurse can be complicated. Let's cover the basic guidelines of the different ways you can become a nurse. Then you'll be ready to evaluate your circumstance and determine which path is better for you.

Associate degree nurse or ADN.

An ADN program focuses more on technical nursing skills than nursing theory theway BSN programs do. You can usually get this degree at a community college and it takes about four to five semesters -- or two years -- to complete, not including the pre-req time. The goal of these programs is to prepare you to pass the NCLEX-RN exam to become a registered nurse. It's easier to pursue your bachelor's in nursing after you've completed an ADN program, as there are many RN to BSN programs available, which usually take about a year to complete.

Diploma RN.

It takes approximately three years and education usually takes place in the hospital. A diploma program requires students to do more clinical work than degree seeking students.Thus the adjustment to a permanent nursing position is usually easier.

Hiring advantages also exist, because you are familiar with the hospital setting. Some disadvantages may be that many of these programs do not offer college credits that will transfer to university. So if you want to progress and get your BSN, you might have to repeat some courses. These programs are also hard to find.

Bachelors of Science in Nursing, or BSN.

This is the four year college route for students who are certain they want to pursue nursing as a career. Course work in these programs includes extensive training that prepares you for work as a clinical nurse as well as administrative roles. This education route opens up the most doors later down the road, as most health care employers favor BSN graduates.

If you already have a bachelor's degree in any field, you have the option to apply for the Accelerated BSN Program.

Accelerated BSN Program.

Assuming the graduate completes the basic science and math prerequisites in college, these programs usually takes about 12 to 18 months to complete. Prerequisites to these courses include anatomy, physiology, microbiology, and other science courses before applying. Some programs will only count prerequisites for science and math classes if they've been completed within the last five years, so be sure to check with your program about prerequisite and credit transfer policies.

On BSN preferred policies.

From the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, or AACN: The bachelor's of science in nursing is the minimum educational requirement for professional nursing practice.

They go on to say, "As our healthcare system is increasingly shifting away from hospital-centered, inpatient treatments to other points of delivery, such as health maintenance organizations, homes and nursing centers, these accelerated changes in how and where healthcare is delivered have created demand for nursing personnel who can function with independence and clinical decisionmaking. With such an increase in responsibility, education, and critical thinking skills, the AACN urges that preparation provided by the four year BSN programs should be the minimum to practice."

Many nursing executives agree and they desire to have at least 70% of their hospital staff BSN-prepared, according to a recent survey by the University HealthSystem Consortium.

So your nursing journey should begin with this in mind: BSN is the minimum.

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4. What is the NCLEX?



Takeaways

  • The NCLEX exam is the national gold standard of RN licensing. You must pass this national credentialing exam to work as a nurse in any state. Some states may require additional licensing exams.
  • A nursing degree alone is not enough to practice as an RN. Nursing programs are designed to prepare students to pass this licensure exam. Students usually take 2-4 years studying for this knowledge-based exam.
  • Questions on the NCLEX are long-form and scenario based. There are no true or false, matching, fill-in-the-blank or essay components on the exam. Each question has several right answers, it is the student's job to pick the most correct response.

Transcript

Hi. I'm Caroline and I'm a registered nurse from Miami, Florida. In this video,I will share with you my experience and observations from nursing school and the licensing process. Note that there are many ways to become a nurse. So the journey will be a little bit different for everyone.

When I started nursing school, I was very confident that I would finish easily with high honors. I had just completed all of my prerequisite classes, including anatomy, physiology, chemistry, statistics, and I was applying to nursing school with a cumulative GPA of 3.7. I had watched many of my prerequisite classes start out with 60 to 70 students only to have less than 20 finish.

I sincerely thought that nursing school was going to be much easier than these classes. I couldn't have been further from the truth. Since I started my BSN program at a university, I found that many classmates were already LPNs and nursing assistants who had a significant amount of time in the hospital. Besides volunteering once per week for about three months and well, child doctor visits, I had no such experience.

What surprised me most though was when I received my first exam, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. There were no true/false, no short answer, no matching, no essay, no fill in the blank. All questions were in the form of real life scenarios with multiple choice answers.

But here's the catch. Two to three of the multiple choice answers were correct.We had to choose the most correct answer.

I did struggle greatly in nursing school, and I tell everyone it was the hardest time in my life. It truly transformed me into a different person. I like to tell the nursing students who are struggling that gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.

How I succeeded.

I reluctantly realized that nursing school was going to take absolutely everything I had. I started going to class early and staying late. Preparing prior to class, studying right after class.

I put every waking hour I had into making my dream of becoming a nurse my reality. I'm thankful to say that I ultimately graduated with honors, and it gave me the inspiration to write my first book, How to Succeed in Nursing School.

Passing the licensing exam.

A nursing degree is completely useless unless you pass boards. As an instructor of mine used to say, without passing boards, you're a highly over educated PCA, patient care assistant.

The nursing board examination, or the NCLEX, which stands for National Council Licensure Examination, was truly the hardest test I ever studied for.If you're graduating with your LPN, you'll be taking the PN, which is basically the NCLEX for LPNs.

Even the way the test is designed is intimidating. Basically you study for two to four years and all of your education means nothing without passing this one pass or fail exam.

Here's how it's set up.

You can pass or fail the exam in 75 questions. Therefore, if you get enough questions right and the exam can see that you would be a safe practitioner, you will pass in the minimum of 75 questions. However, it may take more information to determine this, and you get all the way up to 265 questions.

The opposite is also true. If you get too many questions wrong, the exam can fail you in 75 questions.

At first prior to the exam starting, you'll receive three example questions to determine the level of difficulty. Then after each question you answer correctly or incorrectly, determines your next question.

From my perspective, I could not determine any organizational approach. It seemed very random. Obviously, passing in 75 questions is extremely good. And failing in 75 questions is not so good.

You can pass or fail the exam in as many as 265 questions. After 75 questions, the exam can shut off at any moment, as soon as it decides whether or not you are safe. When my exam shut off in 75 questions, I literally had a panic attack. And I was a nervous wreck until three days later when I went to the website and finally saw my results -- pass.

The required nursing education and NCLEX examination teaches you to critically think and prioritize. This capability is vital to ensure that every person is properly cared for.

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5. What Can a BSN Do For Me?



Takeaways

  • Employers prefer hiring nurses that hold their BSN degrees. The BSN it is the primary pathway into professional nursing. RNs that have a baccalaureate degree also outearn RNs that do not.
  • A BSN will qualify you for graduate training. Even if you're already an RN, you'll need a bachelor's degree or equivalent to gain entry into an advanced practice nursing program. In fact, 20% of BSN grads go on to pursue graduate nurse training.
  • The demand for advanced practice nurses is growing. The BLS estimates that demand for APRNs like nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists is set to grow a staggering 31% by 2022.

Transcript

Hi, I'm Caroline, and I'm a registered nurse from Miami, Florida. In this video,we're going to talk about the options of obtaining an advanced degree after a bachelor's degree in nursing.

One of the main reasons why I chose nursing and BSN in particular was that it was a degree that opened many doors. There are multiple specialties and different types of interesting places to work. The options seem limitless.

One of the most exciting opportunities that a nursing degree offers is the possibility of practicing as a clinical expert. After achieving your bachelor's in nursing, you have the option to further advance your nursing education. These opportunities include a master's or doctoral advanced degree option to become credentialed as a nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, or nurse instructor.

Nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners. They're are also referred to as, advanced practice registered nurses, or, APRNs. They provide and coordinate patient care, and they may provide primary and specialty healthcare. Their scope of practice varies from state to state.

Scope of Practices.

According to the National Council State Boards of Nursing, APRNs are a vital part of the healthcare system in the United States.They are registered nurses educated at a master's or post-master's level in a specific role in patient population.

APRNs are prepared by education and certification to diagnose and manage common and acute chronic diseases,order and interpret diagnostic tests, prescribe medications and recommend treatments, perform minor procedures. The scope of practice for advanced practice nurses is always a hot topic.

On March 17, 2014, the Federal Trade Commission released a staff paper urging legislators and policymakers to be mindful when evaluating the proposals that limit access to care provided by APRNs. In the paper,"Policy Perspectives: Competition and the Regulation of Advanced Practice Nurses," the FTC concludes that,"Expanded APRN scope of practice is good for competition and American consumers."

Rising Demand for APRNs.

The BLS estimates employment of advanced practice nurses set to grow 31% from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average of all occupations and higher than the 19% growth rate estimated for registered nurses. Growth will occur primarily because of the effects of healthcare legislation, an increased emphasis on preventative care, and demand from the large aging baby boom population for health care services as they live longer and more active lives than previous generations.

Another fact that is opening more doors for advanced practice nurses is the projected physician shortage. Dr. Darrell G. Kirch, president of the AAMC states that, "By 2020, we will need 91,500 new doctors, and by 2025, we will need 136,600 new doctors." This is huge.

Since I spent the last six years in the hospital, I notice more and more advanced practice registered nurses. Just the other day to give you an example, I paged a gastroenterologist that I knew pretty well, and I was really surprised when I received a call back from his newly hired nurse practitioner who specializes in the GI system.

Experiences like these are becoming more and more commonplace as the physician load seems to get heavier and heavier. I think it's good to note that it was important for me to get my BSN so that I have the easiest route to becoming advanced practice nurse. So If any these exciting opportunities interests you, you may want to do the same.

One thing that I do love to do in my spare time is to explore the opportunities at my fingertips. I do have a huge interest in the brain and neurological systems. So maybe I can become a nurse practitioner and specialize in that area. Getting your BSN is the best way to ensure that you position yourself to get the most out of your hard-earned degree.

10 years ago, when I was deciding which degree I wanted to pursue in college, I saw nursing as an opening to many different doors. Now that I've been a nurse for over six years, I see that my vision was indeed correct.

Not a day goes by when I don't say, "I'm so glad I chose nursing."

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