May 2023


Nursing: A career filled with opportunities for growth and fulfillment

As healthcare increasingly takes center stage, nurses truly stand at the heart of it all — offering invaluable direct patient care and critical support to other healthcare professionals. Beyond their crucial role in the system, a career in nursing has incredible rewards of its own. Work-life balance, personal growth, competitive salaries and benefits, team collaboration and service to the community are just some of the shining stars in a nurse’s career path. As demand for nurses rises, it’s important to consider the many advantages that a career in nursing offers. From the meaningfulness of the work to the variety of opportunities available, nursing presents an incredibly rewarding field of study and practice. This article sheds light on the numerous benefits of this vital profession.

Personal fulfillment and satisfaction

Nursing is a noble calling, offering individuals the profound privilege of making a tangible difference in the lives of others. As a nurse, you are part of an esteemed community tasked with providing unparalleled care and support. Each shift offers its own rewards, from forming meaningful connections with those under your care to being an integral member of the healthcare team — allowing you to have an impact that lasts long beyond your shift. In times of suffering and difficulty, you can serve as a beacon of hope, helping to restore health and wellbeing.

At the forefront of patient care, nurses provide critical services such as administering medication, tending to wounds and giving emotional support to both patients and their families. Through these compassionate interventions, nurses are able to positively influence countless lives each day, which serves as a true testament to the meaningfulness of this noble calling.

Nursing is a highly rewarding profession that goes beyond the call of duty as it is an opportunity to forge lasting relationships with patients and make a real difference in their lives. By dedicating themselves to understanding and addressing individual needs, nurses have the privilege of witnessing firsthand the power of healing with compassion. As a nurse, your expertise and commitment are greatly respected and appreciated, as you strive to ensure positive health outcomes for all those who need it. Nursing is a profession filled with moments of profound personal satisfaction. These range from supporting a chronically ill patient in finally achieving a positive outcome to building trust with an initially reluctant patient and watching them make progress in their treatment.

Work-life balance

Nursing is a vibrant career that promises limitless possibilities for those who seek the perfect balance of professional and personal fulfillment. From teaching, managing patient cases and conducting research to assuming leadership positions, nurses are empowered with the choice to carve a path that is tailor-made to suit their desired lifestyle. Nurses enjoy the privileged position of being able to explore a wide range of occupational options, ranging from hospitals and clinics to educational institutes and long-term care facilities. The variety of environments available provides nurses with all the tools necessary for making informed decisions about which setting is best suited for them. Each environment has its own unique benefits, allowing nurses to pursue the path that will help them achieve their dreams. For example, hospitals typically feature a regimented schedule, whereas community-based settings may provide more autonomy and self-guidance.

Full-time nursing roles provide stability and beneficial offerings, while part-time engagements are more suitable for those seeking work-life balance. Many healthcare institutions also offer 12-hour shifts as an alternative to the traditional 8-hour schedule. This can be taxing, but it removes the need to return to work quite as frequently, allowing for more rest and personal pursuits between shifts.

For nurses seeking to enhance their professional experience and achieve greater balance in their lives, flexible work options are available. From self-scheduling to per diem contracts, these arrangements provide meaningful opportunities for growth, personal development and greater job satisfaction. Self-scheduling enables nurses to create their own shift schedule, with consideration given to their required hours.

Per diem work offers freedom of choice when it comes to hours worked and the potential for increased earning power. Systems such as these offer a range of benefits, including more time to pursue passions or raise a family, as well as greater autonomy over working hours. By leveraging these career-enhancing options, nurses can tailor their role to fit their individual circumstances while enjoying the many benefits of an ultimately rewarding profession.

Burnout is a major challenge in the nursing field, and it’s essential for nurses to access support that can help them combat this issue. Rockhurst University provides a wealth of avenues to do just that, with resources related to self-care, stress management and work-life balance. These include counseling services, support groups and educational programs tailored to prevent nursing burnout and promote resilience.

Nurses seeking to advance in their career may wish to pursue one of the many higher education opportunities available through Rockhurst University, such as their online Master of Science in Nursing – Leadership program. Students of this online program enhance their skills in team building, critical thinking, problem-solving and ethical decision-making to prepare themselves to take on a variety of clinical and organizational leadership roles.

Challenging and rewarding work

Nursing is a profession that offers both fulfilling opportunities and stimulating intellectual challenges. Through the provision of direct patient care, nurses are charged with addressing diverse health concerns while applying their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. This career not only calls for dedication and expertise, but also provides rewarding experiences for those who choose to pursue it.

Nurses are essential frontline caregivers who face a wide range of patient care demands every day. From adeptly responding to sudden emergencies, such as falls, seizures and cardiac arrests, to providing ongoing support for those with chronic conditions, like diabetes, hypertension and respiratory diseases, nurses must be knowledgeable, vigilant and resourceful in serving their patients.

Nurses are integral to the care of those struggling with mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and addiction. They provide compassionate emotional support while employing a range of therapeutic approaches, such as counseling and medication management.

Beyond this, nurses must also display strong critical-thinking and problem-solving skills in order to optimize patient wellbeing. This involves assessing needs, mitigating potential risks and complications and creating effective individualized treatment plans.

They must also remain agile enough to react quickly in emergency scenarios or when a patient’s condition shifts unexpectedly. For maximum efficacy, nurses need to have the ability to prioritize between patient needs and make swift decisions.

Additionally, nurses are integral to patient outcomes, forming the cornerstone of a successful healthcare system. Their expertise and unflagging commitment are essential to managing chronic conditions, minimizing infection risk, reducing hospital readmissions and empowering patients with holistic approaches for improved health and wellbeing.

Despite the daily challenges they face, nurses take great pride in providing compassionate care and helping people through difficult times, which often leads to immense personal satisfaction and fulfillment.

Professional growth and development

Nursing is a career that demands constant growth and self-improvement. Through professional development, nurses can enhance their expertise, expand their knowledge and increase their skill set, which ultimately leads to improved patient care, job satisfaction and greater success. There are numerous methods by which nurses may pursue professional development, from attending conferences and workshops to engaging in continuing education programs.

For those seeking professional growth, nursing offers many options for advancement. From achieving higher educational credentials, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), to assuming leadership roles including charge nurse or nurse manager, the opportunities for progression are limitless.

Additionally, nurses can choose to specialize in specific areas of healthcare, such as pediatrics, oncology or critical care. By doing so, they open the doors to specialized advanced practice positions, such as Nurse Practitioner (NP), Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) and Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM). These advanced practice professionals enjoy an expanded scope of practice that permits them to diagnose and treat patients independently.

Nurses are expected to stay up to date with the ongoing advances in the healthcare industry so that they can provide the most knowledgeable and effective care. To do this, they can engage in a range of professional development opportunities such as attending conferences and seminars, participating in workshops and earning certifications in specialized areas such as oncology or critical care. Additionally, nurses may pursue advancement within their field by taking on additional responsibilities and roles, ranging from staff nurse to director of nursing. For those looking to supplement their knowledge and enhance their skills, advanced practice roles such as nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist can be accessed through additional study and certification. The possibilities for continuing education in nursing are substantial and varied, allowing nurses to tailor their development to the needs of their patients and organizations.

Competitive compensation and benefits

Nursing is a noble and rewarding profession, with attractive remuneration packages for its practitioners. With salaries varying by location, educational qualifications and level of experience, nurses are generally well-compensated for their services. As of 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the median salary for registered nurses to be $77,600. Nurses can also expect to benefit from health insurance coverage, retirement plans, paid time off and even tuition reimbursement programs from employers, which helps them advance within their field.

Nursing is a demanding, round-the-clock profession that requires dedicated healthcare professionals to provide compassionate care to those in need. Although long hours may prove exhausting, they can also be highly advantageous, with key employers providing time-and-a-half or double-time pay for overtime work, and bonus opportunities for those who work specific shifts or exceed goals. Ultimately, nurses have the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in their patients’ lives while also enjoying financial rewards.

As one of the fastest-growing industries, nursing offers a wealth of career potential and unparalleled job security. From hospitals and clinics to public health facilities and beyond, nurses are sought-after professionals who can rest easy knowing that their employment prospects remain strong. Whether you’re just getting started or already established in the field, a long and prosperous future awaits.

Interdisciplinary teamwork

Interdisciplinary teamwork is an essential element of nursing. As a nurse, you will interact closely with medical practitioners from multiple specializations, including doctors, pharmacists and therapists, to provide top-notch care.

By uniting the strengths of team members, healthcare providers can provide personalized care to promote successful health outcomes. By pooling their knowledge and expertise, they can gain a better understanding of each patient’s needs, goals and preferences, ensuring that personalized care plans are crafted to meet their distinct circumstances. This collective effort puts patients first, providing them with quality attention and empowering them to reach their optimal health potential.

As a nurse, you have the chance to hone your leadership and management skills in an interdisciplinary setting. Working with a diverse team of medical professionals gives you the opportunity to take a leading role while focusing on the patient’s needs. For example, when treating patients with chronic health issues, a collective care plan can be developed with the help of a doctor, nurse, pharmacist and physical therapist. As the facilitator, it’s the nurse’s responsibility to guide conversations and ensure that everyone is aware of their part in delivering comprehensive treatment. By taking full advantage of each team member’s expertise and individual strengths, coordinated and specialized care can be provided. This type of experience will be beneficial for your future endeavors.

The exemplary practice of interdisciplinary teamwork is abundantly evident in a surgical setting. With nurses, anesthesiologists, surgeons and technicians each playing their own integral part, the team must collaborate harmoniously to achieve the best results for the patient. Nurses in particular are called upon to diligently monitor vital signs and administer comfort throughout the healthcare process. In doing so, a high-quality, effective care experience is assured.

Community impact and service

Nursing is much more than a profession; it is a vocation from which to draw deep meaning and satisfaction. The ability to offer compassionate care and effect positive change in the lives of others is just one of the many rewards that come with this noble pursuit. Nurses play an integral role in community service, providing support and comfort when it’s most needed.

Nurses shoulder a great responsibility in advocating for patient rights and promoting health equity. By staying attuned to their patients’ needs and circumstances, they are equipped to identify discrepancies in care caused by social determinants of health and take proactive steps to bridge any gaps. In doing so, nurses ensure that every individual receives equal access to quality healthcare, regardless of background or financial status. As such, nurses must possess an understanding of the social determinants of health and how they can impact patient outcomes.

Nurses are tenacious public health champions, taking to the forefront of the battle against poor health. Through public health education and advocacy, they are instrumental in disseminating vital knowledge regarding disease prevention and healthy practices. Nurses can partner with schools, community organizations and other groups to deliver health information and help foster healthy lifestyles. Additionally, they can support policies which improve access to healthcare, encourage vaccinations and reduce disparities in health conditions.

Nurses are uniquely positioned to make a meaningful impact within their communities by volunteering. Countless organizations exist around the world which offer aspiring nurses the opportunity to hone their skills and provide aid to underprivileged populations. These include esteemed medical organizations, such as the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders and local non-profit groups. Such commitments enable nurses to reap the tremendous rewards of service, bridging the divide between care providers and those facing hardship. By joining in this pursuit of altruism, nurses can lend a helping hand while expanding their own knowledge and experience.

Nurses’ generosity of spirit does not stop there. As dedicated members of their communities, they are also active advocates for health promotion by participating in programs such as free health screenings and educational programs for those in need. Through these initiatives, nurses help create greater public awareness about important health matters, ultimately contributing to a healthier and more equitable society.

Final words

Nursing is an exceptionally gratifying and enriching career path with a broad range of prospects for personal and professional development. Whether you are interested in direct patient care or a more administrative role, nursing offers the possibility to explore a variety of specialties. While no doubt a demanding career, nurses are able to provide vital care and comfort to individuals and their loved ones, making a real and meaningful impact.

Nurses enjoy the robust benefits of a rewarding career, including competitive compensation and benefits packages, job security and stability. With potential for overtime, bonuses and professional advancement, nurses are well-positioned to take home a sizable salary while progressing in their fields.

In addition, nursing is a unique profession that promotes social connection and collaboration among healthcare professionals to provide optimal care to their patients. This field also offers its practitioners an avenue to make meaningful contributions to the community through a range of activities, such as health advocacy and volunteering. With these actions, nurses can be instrumental in creating positive change in their communities and improving the lives of those they serve.

By pursuing a career in nursing, you open yourself up to unprecedented opportunities for personal growth, professional development and community contribution. Whether you are at the beginning of your nursing journey or eyeing a mid career switch, this field offers tremendous potential for long-term, meaningful work and service, so don’t think twice about exploring it further.

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Nursing in rural areas: challenges, innovations and best practices for providing quality care in underserved communities

Nurses make up more than one out of two healthcare workers in rural areas. But with the increasing shortage of health workers in rural areas, nurses are increasingly becoming the only point of call to rural healthcare delivery for rural dwellers.

The role of nurses is becoming more critical in rural healthcare delivery, and this offers a different set of challenges and rewards for nurses.

Healthcare facilities in rural areas often lack the finances to hire a sufficient number of highly qualified healthcare professionals and procure the necessary medical supplies.

However, nurses can rise to the challenge to help fill the healthcare needs of underserved communities while also enjoying opportunities for career advancement and professional growth. For instance, nurses can take on new specialties to fill the shortage of specialists at a community health facility. This can be a win for all, with the nurse earning a pay raise while helping the facility fill its personnel needs at a lower cost compared to hiring external candidates.

In the following sections, we’ll take a closer look at the challenges and opportunities in rural healthcare delivery. We’ll also examine ways that nurses can make a difference here.

Impediments to healthcare delivery in rural areas

Rural America is home to about a quarter of the country’s population. The choice to live in the countryside is oftentimes deliberate – people just wanting to live closer to nature and enjoy a simpler lifestyle, away from the bustle and rigors of the city.

Healthcare delivery in rural areas is similar to that of urban areas in many regards, but it also comes with its unique challenges. These are outlined below.

A predominantly low-income population

Given their relatively sparse amount of economic activities, rural areas tend to be low-income areas. The US Department of Agriculture estimates that nearly 16% of rural dwellers live below the poverty line compared to about 11% in urban and suburban areas. Also, rural dwellers make up about a third of food stamp recipients.

Due to their low income, rural residents often lack adequate health insurance coverage and often struggle to afford proper care for their health challenges. Also, poverty often equates to poorer living standards, and this leads to increased vulnerability to health problems such as chronic diseases, mental illness, and lower life expectancy.

Hospital closures

Healthcare facilities in rural areas often struggle to maintain high-quality healthcare delivery while remaining profitable. The National Institute of Health estimates that over 170 rural hospitals went out of business between 2005 and 2020.

When a community loses a healthcare facility, they lose doctors, nurses, specialists, health educators, and medical supplies. Residents often have no choice but to travel long distances to get medical attention.

Healthcare worker shortage

Besides the closure of hospitals, many other factors contribute to the chronic shortage of healthcare practitioners in rural communities. These factors are to blame for the disproportionate concentration of talent pools in urban areas.

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) classifies areas with a low concentration of healthcare workers as Health Provider Shortage Areas (HPSAs). More than 85 million Americans live in these areas. According to the HRSA’s recent records, HPSAs are heavily concentrated in rural regions.

Issues with work-life balance

If you want to learn how to become a nurse practitioner in Texas to practice in rural areas, a nursing degree at Texas Woman’s University is perfect to prepare you for the career of a nurse. Their clinical placement can help equip and prepare you for the level of work and potential pressure you may find in rural nursing.

Compared to urban nurses, it’s far more crucial for them to learn and implement strategies for maintaining a healthy work-life balance because constant pressure from work is almost guaranteed for them.

A declining number of rural medical students

The capital flight and personnel shortage afflicting rural healthcare are also driven by the decline in medical students from rural areas. Rural healthcare workers are often students who grew up in rural areas and small communities.

According to the journal Health Affairs, medical students from small communities have been declining in their numbers over the last 15 years.

Waning interest in rural healthcare

A broader issue affecting rural healthcare is the steady decline in interest in rural healthcare among healthcare workers. A physician staffing company, Merritt Hawkins, polled final-year medical students in 2019, and found that only 1% were considering practicing in a rural community.

Lower health literacy

Rural dwellers are generally not as informed about maintaining good health as their urban counterparts, making them more vulnerable to health risks. Lower health literacy in rural communities has been linked to higher rates of COVID-19 infections, diabetes, chronic infections, heart problems, etc.

Major health issues in rural areas

All the above combine to prevent many rural dwellers from finding lasting solutions to their health challenges. The impact of these challenges is exacerbating especially for specific health issues, including:

Heart conditions

Heart conditions are also far more prevalent in rural communities. As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of heart disease-related deaths in rural areas is 160 per 100,000, nearly 50% higher compared to deaths in urban areas, which was estimated at 114 per 100,000.

Opioid overdose

More than 75,000 Americans died of opioid overdose between 2020 and 2021, according to the Center for Disease Control. That’s nearly double the yearly figure recorded in 2015. A huge number of those deaths occurred in rural areas due to a lack of access to primary healthcare, overprescribing, and lower health literacy.


The near non-existence of mental health services in many rural communities means that depression and other mental health problems that can lead to suicide often go unchecked in these areas.

CDC records show that the suicide rate in rural communities is twice as high as that of urban areas, at 20.1 per 100,000.

The role of nurses in rural healthcare delivery

For a long time, nurses have been at the front and center of health delivery in most rural communities. There’s also a growing body of evidence suggesting that the work of nurses is becoming increasingly critical and they’re more likely to bring about better patient outcomes compared to other healthcare professionals.

The role of nurses is as important – and sometimes even more superior – to those of doctors and specialists in treating a wide range of health conditions across different types of facilities, from primary to secondary and specialist care facilities.

Here’s why in more explicit terms:

Compliance with medical guidelines

Studies suggest that nurses are much more patient and sensitive when handling patient care. They’re much more likely to follow through with evidence-based guidelines for treatment and care.

As a result, rural patients report being more satisfied with their health outcomes when placed directly under the care of nurses.

Deeper local knowledge

Rural nurses often stay in a community or healthcare facility for several years on end, and this allows them to cultivate a deep understanding of the peculiarities of the locality. They know individual patients by heart, they’ve mastered the intricacies of the norms and cultural traits of the community, and they’re familiar with the local speak and local dialect.

As such, they can communicate with patients at a deeper level, avoiding awkward questions or misunderstandings that limit interactions with patients.

A more holistic approach to patient care

Rural nurses are often skilled at cultivating relationships to foster better healthcare outcomes. They focus not just on treatment regimes and medications, but on the life of patients as a whole.

They understand how social determinants impact access to quality healthcare, and are often willing to go out of their way to ensure holistic care for their patients.

For instance, they can find better strategies for communicating with a patient’s family to assuage their anxieties and advocate for better health standards and health policies in a facility or community.

Working with family values and community spirit

Because they often spend a long period in one location, rural nurses are often regarded as family. They often meet their patients and fellow healthcare workers outside work – at church, school events, or community functions.

As such, they cultivate a deeper level of trust with patients, and this helps guarantee a greater level of patient satisfaction.

Filling specialty roles

While most rural nurses are generalists, many have heeded the call for more specialists in their facilities and undertaken specialized training. Many develop these specialties on the job, assisting specialists with their workload while picking up some critical specialization skills in the process.

Reducing wait times

Studies also show that rural nurses help in minimizing wait times for patients on appointments.

What’s more, they also help improve the outcomes of appointments. Studies show that patient consultations with nurses tend to be longer, suggesting a deeper and more thorough assessment. And the number of return visits is much higher, indicating that patients tend to be more compliant when working with nurses.

Tips for improving healthcare outcomes as a rural nurse

There are many moves currently underway to address the chronic shortage of rural healthcare workers. In some places, doctors and specialists are being incentivized with higher rates and bonuses.

But in places where there are no incentives, nurses have had to think out of the box to find innovative ways to improve rural healthcare delivery.

These include:

Cultivating creativity

Education and certification only get the job half-done in delivering rural care. Nurses need to cultivate their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, coming up with ingenious ways to meet the care needs in their locality.

Advocating for improvements to rural healthcare delivery

As a rural nurse, you need to take advantage of every opportunity to advocate for better health standards. That includes educating patients about better health standards, participating in community events on healthcare, recommending healthcare improvements to community leaders and policymakers, and engaging with local and regional bodies in the healthcare industry.

Promoting health literacy

With better health literacy, rural dwellers can be better equipped to maintain healthy lifestyles and seek out medical help successfully when the need arises. Nurses advocating health literacy can help patients become more compliant with their doctor’s advice and follow through with processes involved in accessing certain types of care facilities.

Exploring telemedicine

Telemedicine has had a seismic impact on healthcare delivery, especially in rural areas. With almost everyone owning a smartphone these days, nurses can explore remote technologies in many ways to improve access to healthcare for patients.

They can use telemedicine to deliver healthcare services to patients’ homes, such as diagnosing health problems, offering counseling, and recommending and monitoring treatment plans for patients.

Obtaining a license for full practice

Nurses that are dedicated to a rural care facility can seek licenses for full practice to be able to operate at a much greater capacity.

More than half of the States in the US allow nurses to obtain authorization for full practice. With this, nurses can carry out patient examinations, diagnose illnesses, prescribe medication, and oversee the administration of treatment plans, all without the intervention of physicians.

Conclusion: rural nurse are bridge-builders for rural healthcare delivery

The decline in access to healthcare delivery for rural dwellers has been a perennial problem in many rural communities. A predominantly low-income population, difficulties with churning profits forcing rural care facilities out of business, and low standards of health and poor health literacy, all combine to create significant disparities between health delivery in rural areas and that of urban areas.

However, nurse practitioners are in a position to rise to the occasion. Nurses can help improve rural healthcare delivery in many ways, from reducing wait times for patients to helping fill the shortage of specialists, employing telemedicine to provide more convenient access to medical services, and advocating for ways to improve health and healthcare in underserved communities.

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