How’d you get into that?!: Nurse

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Here we are again for another post in our series “How’d you get into that!?” This weeks entry I think will be of interest to some of you because I’ve heard many students express interest in this field. Nursing. This can be a difficult field to summarize because there are so many directions you can go and so many areas to specialize in.  But we can still look up some average numbers to get an idea. Back over with the Bureau of Labor Statistics they calculate that in 2014 the average annual income for Nurses was $71,450. This breaks down to $34.35 and hour. The career also has a positive outlook in terms of job growth as well. Between 2012-2022 it is estimated that the need for this career will grow by 19% or about 526,800 jobs, which is faster than average, when comparing to other careers. With this degree you will also receive a job quickly after graduation, Additional research from the American Association of Colleges in Nursing shows that 89% of new BSN graduates had secured employment in nursing 4-6 months after graduation.

There are  many schools that offer nursing programs such as Anoka Ramsey Community College, Metro State University, and St. Scholastica. But be prepared. If you are interested in having a career in this field you need start focusing on academics TODAY. With limited spots in these programs, they have to use your academic record (GPA, ACT, Types of Classes, College Essay) to base their admissions decision off of. So start planning now! Not to mention the school work that is required to receive this degree is challenging too. But as you will see throughout the interview, you can achieve it and the benefits of helping people and love for the job make it totally worth it!!


1.)     Why don’t we start off with the basics. Tell us a little about yourself. ( Where are you from? How old you are? Describe your job and how long you’ve been at it, etc.).

My name is Kari I am 26 years old, grew up in Forest Lake, MN and now live in Minneapolis. I have a BSN in nursing with a minor in psychology and a certification in public health.  I also am currently in school working towards my masters in nursing with a concentration in nursing education to be a teacher for nursing.  I currently work at Fairview Southdale Hospital on Station 88 which is an Oncology/Hematology department with newly added Urology (post op surgical) patients.  I have worked on this unit for about 6 months and before that I worked in the Float Pool at Fairview Southdale for 2 years where I floated to: Surgical Specialties, Orthopedics, Medical, Spine & Neurology, Oncology floor and then worked in ER with patients who were going to be admitted and was a house resource RN

2.)    Why did you want to get into your job? Was it something you’ve always known you wanted to do? If not, what lead you to it?

I have known since I was in middle school that I wanted to be in the medical field, it was always an interest of mine, but it wasn’t until 9th grade in our Careers class that I learned more about what a nurse was and did a shadow day experience at our local hospital and realized that out of all the medical professionals nurses got to spend the most time with their patients and did a little bit of every discipline.

3.)    Can you define for us what a Nurse does?

What a nurse does can really depend on what type of setting and/or specialty they are in, and there.  Fairview Health Services does a great job of summarizing what a does in the hospital setting does: 

The Registered Nurse is responsible for the assessment, planning, delivery, and evaluation of nursing care for all assigned patient population(s).  The RN is responsible for performing these responsibilities in accordance with all policy, procedure and professional practice guidelines.  The RN coordinates care with members of the health care team and delegates responsibilities to others as appropriate.”

4.)    How did you become a Nurse? Do you need a college degree? Are there certifications required? If you do go to college, what should you study?

The very basic steps to becoming a nurse include:

-Finishing high school: during your junior or senior year start to tour and ask questions about the schools nursing program

– Going to college and the best way to get into a nursing program is to declare nursing as your major right away (when apply to the college).

– Get into the nursing program, graduate J

– Study and the NCLEX, nursing boards and pass.

– Then start looking for a job as a nurse in the setting you would like.

5.)    How do you find work in your field? Are there different types of jobs within the field? What is the job market like?

Finding available jobs as a nurse can be as easy as going to a career fair at your school and going online to a hospital’s website.  It’s getting the job right out of school that can be the challenge.  There are very specialized fields like ER nursing, which want you to have basic medical floor nursing or critical care background before working there.  Nursing is a very competitive field for getting jobs, so what ever makes you stand out as a candidate for the job the better.  My biggest piece of advice in while in nursing school work in the hospital setting as a nursing assistant, health unit coordinator, emergency room tech, paramedic, or even a volunteer; anything you can to “get your foot in the door” and in most health care systems you are then considered an “internal applicant” for the job.

6.)    What would the average work day look like?

I work the second shift, 3-11:30pm, we can have up to 4 patients assigned to us at one time, unless we have a specialized assignment.  I usually arrive to work about 2:30pm and prep for my patients.  You will get report from the previous nurse and based on what is going on with each patient that will tell you who to see first.  Then you see each patient, do an assessment, answer their questions, give them medication if needed, and even update family members or if needed update the doctors if there is any problems.  On a good shift I have seen all my patients and I’m starting to chart my assessments by 5pm.  A few patients might have more medications between 6-7.  Then I will take my dinner break, go back and check in with my patients.  There will generally be an evening pass of meds at 9pm, you check and chart all lines and drains at 10pm, document on education (that you have done for the shift), and then write your end of shift notes.  Then at about 11:00 pm the next shift comes and you give report to them and punch out at 11:30pm.

7.)    What is the work/life balance like? (Do you work super late nights, odd hours, and weekends?)

Again the balance of work and life with a nurse really depends on what type of nurse you are, how much you work and how much extra education/learning you seek on your own.  I currently work only a 0.6, which means that in a two week pay period I work 6 out of 14 days, this is because I am going to school full time.  If I wasn’t then I would probably work more days, but I could still have time for friends and family.  Most days when you leave work, you really don’t bring it home with you.  Unless you are learning some new education for work and sometimes you are on committees or projects at work and you could bring stuff home to do; but overall most nurses leave work at work.

8.)    What’s the best part of your career?

The best part of my job is when I can take the time to spend with my patients and create a trusting relationship with them and even their family and in the end of their care, they genuinely thank you for your care.

9.)    What’s the worst part?

Working on station 88, we have a unique population of patients and because of patients can stay with us in the inpatient hospital setting a lot longer than the average patient stay.  Therefore we create bonds with them and their family and sometimes in the end, despite our “best efforts” we can’t save them.  It can be hard to lose patients anytime, but especially when you are created a meaningful relationship.

10.) What are the biggest misconceptions people have about your job?

Nurses don’t just sit around the desk and eat or talk, if we are sitting its to finally get off our feet and chart EVERYTHING we just did.

11.) Any other advice, tips, or anecdotes you’d like to add?

If you think you want to be a nurse, ask to shadow one or better yet work in a hospital setting where you can see first hand what’s its like.  It is a lot of time and tough schooling to go through and then find out that it’s not what you thought it was.

WOW! This is some awesome information and hopefully a new perspective for some students intrested in this field. If any of you are interested in learning more talk to your advisor so we can show you some more resources and schools that provide this opportunity. Thanks again, Kari!



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