Is Nursing School Worth It? 7 Genuine Truths

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If you are wondering if nursing school is worth it, this is actually a great question. Why? Because the degree you choose to pursue, and pay for, will follow you for essentially the rest of your life. Just a small hand full of decisions we make in our lives hold this much weight.

So, maybe you’re in high school doing degree research, or maybe you are a young, or even and older adult looking to go back to school. Either way, the potential answers here can apply to everyone who is considering a career in nursing.

While nobody can answer this question with absolutes, here are our personal reasons why we believe here at Midlife Nursing that nursing school is absolutely worth it, especially going into 2024.

1. Nursing is a recession safe career path!

is nursing school worth it

While the term “recession-proof” is mostly frowned upon, we are comfortable with stating that nursing is a recession safe profession. The U.S Bureau of Labor and Statistics did an in-depth assessment regarding the nursing profession in relation to recessions, and you can read their analysis here.

In this day and age, with technological improvements and innovations, many jobs have unfortunately become obsolete. But healthcare workers will always be in demand in a rather large capacity. No matter what the market is doing.

When looking at going into other industries, many companies have been able to downsize due to software programs automating procedures. It will especially be interesting to see what AI does to many jobs out there.

Nurses can never be replaced by technology.

Nursing is a skilled and hands-on trade. The rules and regulations in relation to a nurse’s scope of practice are rigid. A CNA, LVN, and MA, for example, cannot supplement a nurse, nor replace them. This would go against State Board guidelines.

The main thing that separates a nurse from entry-level health care licenses is their training in the nursing process, case in point, assessment.

Only a nurse is licensed to assess a patient. A CNA or an LVN can not legally assess a patient’s level of consciousness, signs, and symptoms of infection, and/or airway compromise, etc. They can report what they see to the RN, but it is ultimately the RN’s legal responsibility to complete an assessment on a patient.

This may not sound like a big deal on the surface, but once you get into the trade, you realize that 90% of your work is assessment. Looking at your patient, listening to your patient, monitoring vital signs, and making important judgments based on this information. This is what drives patient care.

Only a human can do this job.

RNs can never be replaced. They are highly trained and skilled to work directly under the health care provider. Nurses are the eyes and ears for physicians.

2. Nurses make more money during, and even after, pandemics.

is nursing school worth it

Sadly as we saw, this was not true for many professions. Many people’s jobs were lost due to companies going virtual.

We have learned after this recent pandemic that while burnout is a very important topic of discussion, the monetary opportunities for nurses are like nothing we have ever seen.

This is a great article where a travel nurse talks about her experience during the pandemic, and I will insert the link for you to read about it here.

Travel nurses were making well into the six figures working through the pandemic. Travel nursing will also continue to be highly lucrative due to the dire national nursing shortage.

There was a nursing shortage even before 2020, and it has only worsened. Many nurses who were close to retirement chose to retire early due to the global crisis. Many nurses also left the profession when the immunization was being rolled out. You can read more about that here in this CNN article.

We were already in a place where our country really couldn’t afford to be losing nurses in the workforce. Registered nursing is more in demand than ever.

3. There is a high return on your college investment with a nursing degree.

You did a good thing searching to find out if nursing school is even worth it. Many people don’t do their research when choosing their degree, especially young students just leaving high school.

College in America costs money. A lot of money. It is just the way it is here. Therefore you should be very strategic with the degree you invest in. Because no matter what way you look at it, your college degree is an investment.

A nursing degree does not have to be expensive either. If money is an issue, an aspiring nurse can take the community college route. Many states in America are now offering locals free tuition! Check out the list of states here.

Once you earn your ADN (associate in nursing), you can take the NCLEX exam and get your license to work as an RN. You don’t have to get a bachelor’s degree in nursing, it is the exact same license.

New grad nurses make virtually the same hourly wage regardless of their degree type, ADN vs BSN. However, many hospitals would like ADNs to get their bachelor’s within 5 years, but the good news is, that they will likely help you pay for it. That is a smart tactic to get your schooling done even cheaper.

RN average hourly wage

A new grad RN can expect to make an average of about $77,000 dollars in the United States annually. However, each state is different. Take a look at the different average salaries by state here.

Few degrees out there have such a high yield on their college investment, let alone so fast after graduating. Due to the nursing shortage, you are essentially guaranteed to find a job very quickly after graduation, and many already have jobs lined up before even graduating, or even before taking the NCLEX examination.

This was the case for me too. I secured my dream job in postpartum at the very start of my last semester of nursing school. I can honestly say that nursing school is worth it in my experience. I absolutely love my job and I am getting paid extremely well.

4. There is so much room for growth in nursing.

is nursing school worth it

Many new nurses will start at the bedside, usually on a Med-Surg or lower acuity/general care floor. However more new grads are getting hired into ER’s, ICU’s and even PACU’s now.

Once a nurse has worked in these positions for a year or two, many more doors open up. You can pretty much go anywhere in the field, and even step into positions of leadership.

Some other cool nursing specialty examples that usually require a few years experience:

  • Remote Nursing
  • Clinical educator
  • Case Management
  • Federal Nursing (ex: CMS)
  • OR nursing
  • Aesthetic nursing
  • Oncology

Contrary to popular belief it is important to know that you don’t always have to start in Med-Surg first. Depending on where you are located, and the nursing shortage, you may be able to start out on a specialty unit as a new grad. I did.

There is also plenty of room to grow in business management as a nurse. You can progress into a charge nurse position, move into supervising, managing, and then up to being a director and beyond.

Achieving higher education also opens up more doors in nursing. If you get your BSN this is usually required to move into supervising roles. If you get your MSN you can teach, or work as a nurse practitioner. You can also go into a specialty like midwifery, nurse anesthetist, clinical education, etc.

Few careers offer as many opportunities as nursing does. I honestly can’t think of any other profession that is more diverse than this.

If you go to nursing school, you can have so many careers from just one degree.

5. Nursing is only a 3-day work week with full-time benefits.

However, I will be honest, they are very long, hard days, but you do get used to the healthcare lifestyle fairly quickly.

On average, in most hospitals, the hours are 6:30-7 or 7-7. AM & PM shifts.

However, this leaves you 4 days to rest, play and recover! Many organizations allow staggering schedules, where you work your three in a row, and have a long break. Some people like to work every other day so they can rest in between shifts. Everyone is different and there is a lot of flexibility with this schedule.

I am not going to try to make light of these long hours, but there are definite pros with the cons in my experience. It’s hard to imagine ever going back to a five-day workweek for most nurses.

6. Nursing is a family-friendly career.

Just in case you are still wondering if nursing school is worth it, this is probably what makes it the most worth it.

Thanks to the three-day workweek, and the flexibility of working either day or night shift, this is a great career for people who either already have, or who want to start a family.

Some female nurses, after having a baby, will move to part-time. They can still get their benefits this way and can work weekends while their spouse is at work, or vice versa. Depending on their support system, they may even be able to still work full time.

Nursing pays extremely well, and you can accrue a ton of PTO (paid time off). As long as there aren’t major staffing issues, taking regular bouts of time off is usually accommodated. This is also a big reason why we need more nurses. This way we can all help each other maintain a good work-life balance and keep our patients safe and taken care of. It definitely takes a collective effort.

And as briefly mentioned above, don’t forget that working from home is also an option in nursing. Here is an article we wrote looking into work-at-home jobs for nurses.

7. Many Nurses Get Student Loan Repayment Assistance

This is huge.

Some of us have no choice but to take out student loans, myself included. There are even some hospitals out there that provide student loan forgiveness. Here is a list of some hospitals here.

This is almost unheard of in most industries. Those who get business, chemistry, english, and art degree’s probably don’t get this kind of opportunity very often.

Many health care companies will add a student loan payment to your checks. Usually, they just ask for you to sign a contract saying you will stay with the company for at least one to two years, otherwise, you pay them back. But that’s not even always the case. Some don’t require you to stay any length of time, but if you leave you wont get to take advantage of that free money anymore.

While this is a great benefit, it is important that you feel really good before accepting any job, especially if a contract is involved. A year or two may not sound like a lot, but it will feel like five years if you hate your job.

So, Is Nursing School Worth It? Our Conclusion:

As we mentioned in the beginning of this article, nobody can really answer that for you, but you. However, we do hope that with the help of this list of great pros regarding the nursing profession, that you will go for it. That you will just rip off the bandaid and go to nursing school.

With the high return on your college investment, job stability, room for advancement, flexible schedules, and student loan help and forgiveness, it is hard not to see just how worth it is.

Additionally, now that I have personally worked as a registered nurse for over half a year now, I can honestly say it is the best decision I ever made.

I am so glad younger me never gave up when it felt like such a hard and long road ahead. And I believe it will be the same for you, as long as you follow your passions and enter the specialty best for you. And don’t take no for an answer. Even as a new grad. Keep trying!

Leave us a comment, do you think nursing school is worth it? Leave some advice for some prospective nursing students reading this out there.

Jackie Jimenez BSN, RN
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