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Advantages & Disadvantages of Being a Registered Nurse

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Being a registered nurse can present a number of opportunities for great pay, flexible scheduling, generous benefits, and travel opportunities. With all of its advantages come the down sides related to the physical and emotional toll the job can take. All in all, the good surpasses the negative, making nursing an attractive career choice.


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One advantage of being a registered nurse is that they can command a salary of between about $43,000 and $63,000 dollars per year. In addition to this salary, many nursing positions offer a signing bonus. This bonus can be contingent on other factors such as the length of time the position is held. However, if a nurse is planning on staying put for a while, she can expect to earn between $5,000 to $10,000 as a signing bonus. The higher end signing bonuses are not unusual to military nursing positions.


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One disadvantage of being a registered nurse is related to the fact that there are many vacant nursing jobs. This translates into a high patient load and long working hours. Being a registered nurse can be physically and mentally taxing. There is also a burnout associated with patient care due to attachment to patients and subsequently watching them die. This is especially true in positions where the nurse cares for the same patient for an extended period of time such as in hospice.

Job Security

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There is a high demand for registered nurses all over the world and this is expected to grow exponentially as we make our way further into the millennium. There will be an estimated 800,000 open nursing positions before 2030 as opposed to 100,000 in the beginning of the millennium. This means that demand will be high and supply for registered nurses will be low.

Flexibility of Location and Schedule

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Nurses can work a variety of flexible schedules. Since patient care needs to occur around the clock, many nurses may work several twelve hour shifts per week. It is also very common for nurses to not actually report to work at a specific time but work what is referred to as "on call". This means that they will be paid just for being on call and they receive a higher rate of pay if they actually have to go in. In addition to being able to choose from a variety of schedules, nurses can work in several different places as pool nurses or travel nurses. Travel nurses go where they are needed when they are needed. There is also the possibility of securing a nursing position in a foreign country for a short or long period of time.

Initial Ilness

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The first few years of working as a nurse in a patient care facility comes with more cases of personal illness than usual. This is true for anyone that's new to working in hospital or doctor's office. Having to have frequent direct personal contact with people who are sick lends the immune system to an onslaught of germs it never had to fight all at once. It's best to expect that the first few years of working as a registered nurse will mean more cases of things like stomach viruses, the flu, and common colds, not to mention the other communicable diseases that are common to medical facilities.


Katrina Josey is an exercise physiologist and health education specialist in Ohio. She is experienced in the full life cycle of developing health and wellness programs. Katrina was the managing editor of a major website's fitness channel and has over 10 years of professional experience including clinical exercise testing. Her volunteer experience includes AmeriCorps service and wellness ministry work.

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