National Nurses Week begins each year on May 6th and ends on May 12th, Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Florence Nightingale came to prominence while serving as a manager of nurses trained by her during the Crimean War, where she organized those tending to wounded soldiers. She gave nursing a highly favorable reputation and became an icon of Victorian culture, especially in the persona of “The Lady with the Lamp” making rounds to wounded soldiers at night.
When I think about nurses, it astounds me to see how far we’ve come since Florence started this whole thing in an effort to ease pain and suffering for soldiers. She saw that need and did something about it. Nurses still ease pain and suffering, but the profession has advanced far beyond the imagination of Florence Nightingale. Together, we’ve achieved a prominent place in our healthcare system.
As an RN who fell into management, administration, start-up, and then entrepreneurship mostly by a combination of timing and luck, I’ve been incredibly fortunate with the paths that opened up for me. My high school goal was medical school. Funds were limited and nursing school was almost free. That intense clinical training laid the foundation for a career filled with surprises, challenges and rewards.
As the founder of a healthcare executive search firm, we are provided with multiple opportunities to assist people who come to us for career advice. We get asked to advise young people on career choices. I’ve worked in several community benefit organizations that focus on education for underserved young people. In all cases, I am prone to advancing the case for nursing education if it appears there is interest in a medical career.
The demand for RNs increases each year, in part because of our aging population, but also because of the advances technology provides. Nurses have consistently moved up the ladder in healthcare delivery, but also leadership roles on the business side. Nurses are in the hospital CEO role today and are often seen in other C-Suite areas of the teams leading health systems. In addition, we see nurses playing key roles in health plans and in the innovative organizations that often employ RNs to explain the value proposition and operational capabilities of new emerging technology that improves patient care outcomes.
Here are just a few of the positions we place regularly in health systems where an RN is either required or strongly preferred:
-Vice President Medical Management
-Chief Operating Officer
-Chief Quality Officer
-Vice President, Clinical Operations
-Chief of Medical Services
If an RN wants to remain in patient care, there are multiple avenues to advance:
-Nurse practitioners are highly valued, well compensated and do much of the same work physicians do.
-Nurses are almost always in charge of the Operating Room, the Recovery Room and can be found delivering Anesthesia as CRNAs.
-Nurses become Chief Nursing Officers who manage ICUs, ERs, ORs and Trauma ICUs.
-Nurses go into public health. An MPH degree is a good addition that will open doors.
-Nurses who opt to move up to management on the business side of healthcare may get an MBA degree.
-Nurses who have a strong interest in health policy may opt for a law degree.
Consider encouraging your kids and grandkids, particularly those with limited financial means, to consider nursing. The demand for nurses continues to increase year over year, which will guarantee employment along with unlimited opportunity to advance your career, do meaningful work and find fulfillment.
Paula Morgan is the Founder of Morgan Consulting Resources, a healthcare executive search firm celebrating over 20 successful years in business.