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So, you've dreamed of being a registered nurse ever since you were a kid. You probably think that you know a lot about nursing. However, like many people, you probably have lots of misconceptions about it too. Before embarking on what is sure to be a rewarding career, familiarize yourself with the most common nursing myths as well as the truths behind them.
Table of Contents[hide]
- Being a Nurse is Less Challenging than Being a Doctor
- Nurses are Only Women
- Nurses are Wannabe Doctors
- Nurses aren't Very Well Compensated
- RNs Do All the Grunt Work
- If You Become a Nurse You'll Be Stuck Forever
- It's Easy to Find Work as a Nurse
- You Have to Return to School Full Time to Advance
Some of the most common myths about nursing include:
1. Being a Nurse is Less Challenging than Being a Doctor
Doctors tend to enjoy a lot more esteem than nurses because people perceive that their work is a lot more difficult. While doctors face many unique challenges, nurses' work is by no means "easier." Doctors must undergo a lot more training and education, so the path to becoming a doctor is more difficult. Comparing the two lines of work is pretty unfair because the duties are so different. Nurses face many significant challenges, including long hours, difficult patients, and having to be on their feet throughout their shifts, so the work isn't exactly a walk in the park.
2. Nurses are Only Women
Although it is true that nurses are overwhelmingly women, there are plenty of male nurses out there too. Only about 5 to 6 percent of nurses are men, but that is starting to change. The field has traditionally been dominated by women, but there are no practical reasons for this. In fact, many nursing schools strive to alleviate the gender imbalance that exists in the field. If you are a man, there is no reason not to pursue a nursing career.
3. Nurses are Wannabe Doctors
If you really want to anger a registered nurse, ask them if they really wanted to be a doctor. There is a pervasive and completely unfair myth that most nurses are would-be doctors who couldn't handle the rigors of medical school. This implies that nursing school is comparatively simple, but nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, nursing students must undergo rigorous and intensive training, whether they pursue their associate degrees in nursing, or ADNs, or bachelor degrees in nursing, or BSNs. The vast majority of RNs pursued nursing for altruistic reasons and not because they just couldn't hack it as doctors.
4. Nurses aren't Very Well Compensated
Because they tend to work long shifts, people often assume that nurses aren't compensated well enough for their time. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for an RN as of May 2023 was $89,010. Although nurses do often work long shifts, they usually work fewer shifts per week to make up for it. When broken down to an hourly amount, RNs in the U.S. earn around $42.80 per hour. Given that studies have shown that an annual salary of $70,000 tends to make people very happy, it's safe to say that RNs are compensated very well.
5. RNs Do All the Grunt Work
Some people are under the impression that nurses are little more than gofers for senior RNs, doctors, and other higher-ups. However, registered nurses with ADNs or BSNs handle a vast array of duties during their long shifts, and much of it involves working directly with patients. The considerable skills and knowledge that are acquired in nursing school are put to work every day. RNs typically aren't charged with duties like cleaning, which are left for entry-level positions like CNAs and LPNs.
6. If You Become a Nurse You'll Be Stuck Forever
People are sometimes discouraged from going to nursing school because they are told that nursing is a dead-end profession. This is probably one of the most ludicrous misconceptions about nursing that is out there. In fact, the exact opposite is true. Whether you break into registered nursing by earning an ADN or a BSN, there are countless paths to pursue. RNs can choose from dozens of specializations. They can opt to advance their educations by pursuing a master of science in nursing, or MSN, that opens up advanced nursing roles and managerial positions. Many even go on to earn their doctor of nursing practice, or DNP.
7. It's Easy to Find Work as a Nurse
Well, this is technically true in that nurses are perpetually in demand and that demand is only going to increase as the baby boomer generation ages. However, finding the nursing job that is right for you may not be quite as easy. To have access to the best positions and employers and pay, it is generally best to earn a BSN. The reputation of the nursing school where you earn your degree may affect your prospects too. Throughout your career, you should also continue to accumulate continuing education credits or even consider returning to school to advance your education. That way, you will remain highly marketable throughout your career.
8. You Have to Return to School Full Time to Advance
Finally, some people are reluctant to break into nursing because they think that they'll have to go back to school full time if they ever want to advance in their career. For example, if you earn an ADN, you may think that you'll have to go to school full time to proceed to a BSN. However, bridge programs that take your previous education and experience can help you advance in your education and career more quickly, so they are well worth looking into.
Nursing is a rewarding and diverse profession with many opportunities for advancement. By learning the truth about common nursing myths, you can make more informed decisions about your education and career.