Yes, everyone knows that nursing is a respected profession with much job growth. But there are some misguided ideas out there about the profession that can hinder both the professional nurse and the potential nurse candidate from moving forward with a nursing career.

Remember, knowledge is power, so read through this list of the biggest myths in nursing to prepare you to enter or advance in the nursing profession.

1. Nursing is a woman’s profession

Modern nursing  owes its roots to Florence Nightengale, who during the Crimean War in 1854 single-handedly took over nursing from the men,  improved it and marked it for the first time in history as a career for women. Since then, the profession has been predominantly female. But these days, the male nurse – or murse,  as they are jokingly called – is making a comeback. Sure, they make up less than six percent of the current U.S. nursing population, but the numbers are increasing by two to three percent per year, as is the percentage of male nursing students. As more people are attracted to nursing for the challenge, the opportunities, and the stable nursing career, expect to see more murses in your future hospital visits.

2. The physician is the boss

In many popular movies and TV shows, the nurse is portrayed as a selfless slave of the doctor, running to do his bidding whenever he (and yes, it’s usually a he, even in these so-called liberated days) calls. Au contraire! In reality, nursing has its own structure and management hierarchy that is quite separate from those of the physician. In fact, nurses bring a set of complementary but different set of skills, experience and job objectives to the table. The reality is that nurses and doctors work together to create treatment plans for their patients.

3. Nurses spend all their time with patients

Not so. In fact, nurses reported spending on average a quarter of their time on paperwork and other non-direct patient care each shift, according to a recent national U.S. study conducted by Jackson Healthcare. Documenting patients’ care in several places and completing various logs and checklists are pulling nurses away from patients’ bedsides.

4. There is no job advancement in nursing

Nothing could be further from the truth. There are as many different types of nurses as there are vacancies in the field, and people can move in and out of specializations depending upon interest. Palliative care, emergency care, nursing home care, even holistic or alternative health care are all possibilities. Some hospitals, to encourage nurses to stay, will even pay for education in a specific field.

5. Traveling nursing is a less stable career

Wrong! As the economy shifts downward, the demand for travel nursing increases. Ironically, though you may be in different workplaces every few months, the pay has never been better; the benefits, including free housing and per diem allowances in some cases. The job prospects looked so good. And contrary to popular belief, you can pick your assignments, secure a new assignment while working your current assignment and often extend your length of stay beyond the traditional three-month period for months or even years. You can also pick assignments in areas where the cost of living is lower, stretching your dollar further.

6. The Nursing shortage guarantees you a great job when you graduate

The nursing shortage definitely exists; there are more than 100,000 nursing jobs currently open, and over the next decade more than 500,000 jobs are expected to open up in the field. But the poor economy has put a temporary damper on hiring in some places for several reasons. This is primarily because nurses who would probably be retiring or quitting to do something else are hanging onto their jobs until the economy improves or because many hospitals are experiencing hiring freezes. However, the good news is that if you are willing to commit to a hospital for a few years, you increase your chances of getting hired.

Remember, nursing is a respected profession, and it’s one of the growing industries in a very depressed U.S. employment market right now. You’ll be helping people daily, collecting a good salary, accessing opportunities for career advancement and enjoying the option of jobs anywhere you want to live. What’s not to love?

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