Nurses continue to be part of the top 10 fastest growing occupations and are expected to be among this group until at least 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. What does that mean for today's nurses? Sustained demand for well-qualified, highly trained professionals. But, that does not mean today's nurses can rest on their laurels (not that any nurse knows the meaning of rest) and simply wait for career advancement to come to them. In our latest episode of Madison School of Healthcare Employer Q&A series, we focus on what employers are looking for in today – and tomorrow's – nurse hires (spoiler alert: it's in large part a bachelor's degree in nursing, so considering an RN-BSN program can be a difference maker).
For this third episode in our series, two experts from Dabney S. Lancaster Community College (DSLCC) in Virginia joined us to talk about education, "hireability" and sustaining career growth in healthcare. We are grateful that Ben Worth who is the Vice President of Academic Affairs and Tina Hawley who is the Program Head for Nursing at the college added their wisdom and insights to the conversation.
Below is a preview of the conversation with our experts from DSLCC. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Question: How can nurses advance and accelerate their careers by going back to school?
Tina Hawley: I would advise anyone in the field today to at least consider at minimum a bachelor's degree. Many of the nursing options, nursing settings, require a minimum of a bachelor's degree today to do some of those functions.
Question: What does having an advanced degree do for a nurse's professional standing and "hireability" factor?
Ben Worth: Simply put, the more advanced degree a nurse holds, the more job opportunities they have and the more money they can earn in those careers. The reality today is that more and more hospitals are requiring a bachelor's degree if not initially then after three to four years of employment. That opportunity to have a pathway from an associate degree nursing program to a bachelor's degree nursing program is extremely important for those ADN graduates.
Question: What have you seen in recent years that excites you about the outlook of the nursing position and healthcare field at large?
Ben: There's been a huge increase in job opportunities in healthcare broadly. That's a reality that many people watching this conversation already know, and those opportunities, certainly they're showing up in hospital settings, but they're showing up in other kinds of settings as well. Places such as home care, community settings, doctor's clinics, health departments, various pediatric services. We see lots of job openings in the healthcare sector and in a variety of different types of job locations. The reality is that many of these positions require bachelor's degree.
Question: What are three traits or skills that you value most in nursing or healthcare professionals?
Tina: Nursing advances, just like medicine, very quickly. We have to have people who have a commitment to lifelong learning. I think that's very important for anybody coming into healthcare or currently in healthcare. Flexibility is another essential trait, in order to get those additional credits, certifications and degrees, that healthcare professionals need as they move forward with their career. Anyone coming into nursing and also looking to advance needs a very strong background in the sciences and math.
Want to hear more from Ben and Tina? Go to the Ashworth College YouTube page for the full video.
Ready to advance your nursing career? Visit the Madison School of Healthcare RN-BSN program page.