4 Powerful Reasons Why Students Attend Nursing Schools in Florida
Nursing schools in Florida can help you prepare for a diverse career sector filled with opportunities and choices. Nursing is one of the few medical professions where patient care is provided around the clock every day of the year. With a variety of education and career options, combined with a strong job outlook, you could find nursing to be an exciting choice.
There are many reasons why people like you choose nursing programs in Florida. Uncover four of these reasons below and find out if a career in nursing lines up with your professional ambitions.
1. A Broad Choice of Nursing Programs and Career Tracks
Florida nursing schools can prepare you for many entry-level positions. And even better, you can choose to obtain additional education to help advance your career at any time. Nurses also benefit from the opportunity to secure positions within a number of work settings. Jobs can be found within hospitals, public health clinics, short and long-term care facilities, medical offices, hospices, schools, and home health care agencies.
Nursing schools in Florida offer a variety of programs leading to several different career tracks. Here is a breakdown of the different programs frequently offered and the career outcomes they can lead to:
Patient Care Technician
Patient care technician programs can usually be completed in a year or less, and they help prepare you to work as a heath care or nursing assistant. Depending on the type of program you choose, you may have the opportunity to pursue several different occupations. Some of the common careers and certifications that patient care technician training can lead to include:
- Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)—CNAs assist with patient care under the direction of an LPN or RN. They tend to a patient's basic daily needs, such as administering medications, changing dressings, cleaning rooms, and documenting and reporting observations. Once you complete an approved program, you need to pass the Prometric Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) exam to become certified.
- Certified Patient Care Technician/Assistant (CPCT/A)—A CPCT/A has similar duties to a nursing assistant but tends to take on some higher-level responsibilities. These can include drawing blood and acquiring EKG readings. Upon completing an approved program, you have to pass the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) exam to become certified.
- Electrocardiograph (EKG) Technician—EKG technicians conduct cardiac tests to diagnose and monitor a variety of heart conditions. They operate and maintain equipment, get patients ready for procedures, and prepare collected data for nurses and physicians. Once you have graduated from an approved program, you can complete the exam for EKG certification through the American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians (ASPT) or through Cardiovascular Credentialing, Inc. (CCI), which provides a Certified Cardiographic Technician (CCT) credential. Note that there are other nationally recognized certifying bodies, but the ASPT and CCI are the most common.
- Home Health Aide (HHA)—An HHA works with disabled, elderly, and sick people to assist them in their own homes so they can continue to live independently. You could assist with personal hygiene and home safety and cleanliness, and you could even help with arranging out-of-home activities and transportation. Upon completing an approved program, you can obtain certification through the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC).
- Phlebotomy Technician—A phlebotomy technician collects blood samples, labels them, and prepares them for transport. Once you have graduated from an approved program, you can write a certification exam through one of several agencies: American Medical Technologists (AMT), the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), or the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Licensed Practical Nurse
Most practical nursing diploma programs can be completed in approximately one year. Once you have graduated from a state-approved program, you can then sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) to become a licensed practical nurse, commonly referred to as an LPN.
LPNs usually work under the supervision of registered nurses (RNs). The job responsibilities can vary based on the work setting and position, but you could spend your days administering medications, taking vital signs, filling out medical records, collecting specimens, and inserting and caring for catheters and other tubes and ventilators.
Some LPNs can also secure opportunities to work in specific areas or specialties. These can include labor and delivery, pediatrics, oncology (cancer), intensive care (ICU), neonatal intensive care (NICU), burn units, ER, rehab, or geriatrics.
Registered nurses (RNs) can have a wide range of job responsibilities, including offering therapeutic treatments, providing IV medications, supervising LPNs and other support staff, conducting physical assessments on patients, handling medical emergencies, and consulting with physicians. As an RN, you may have the option to work in either general or specialized care. When opting to work in specialized care, positions available to you may include intensive care nurse, case management nurse, critical care nurse, pediatric nurse, or public health nurse.
Florida nursing schools provide a number of options for those aspiring to become registered nurses. The most common programs offered include the following:
- Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)—An associate degree program can be completed in approximately one to two years, whereas a bachelor's degree program can be completed in three to four years. According to the Florida Center for Nursing, 43.2 percent of practicing RNs had an associate degree, and 35.1 percent had a BSN as of 2013.* Whether you choose an associate or BSN program depends on a number of factors, including how quickly you want to get into the workforce and what level of position you desire.
- LPN to RN Bridge/LPN to BSN—These bridging programs are for current LPNs who desire an associate or bachelor's degree to become an RN.
- RN to BSN/Nursing Bridge—These bridging programs are for RNs wanting to earn a bachelor's degree. To consider this option, you must be a currently licensed RN who holds a recognized associate degree or diploma.
Once you have successfully completed a state-approved RN program, you can sit for the National Council for Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become a certified RN.
Advanced Practice Nurse
If you are a currently licensed RN who wants to pursue higher-level health care positions, then earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is a great option. Earning an MSN can help you secure leadership or supervisory roles. It can also help you become an advanced practice nurse such as a nurse anesthetist, nurse practitioner, or nurse midwife.
Becoming an advanced practice nurse can prepare you to take on a role as a primary health care provider. This can enable you to record patient histories, complete physical exams, prescribe medications, and order and read tests. You could even take the lead in providing patient care.
2. A Strong Projected Job Outlook
Nurses in Florida are in strong demand, and this demand is only expected to grow in the coming years. In 2014, Florida had almost 20 million residents, and it was estimated that 65 percent of adults and one in three children were overweight.** Florida also has more people over the age of 65 than any other state, and the life expectancy rate is above the national average.*** The higher rates of obesity, combined with the large, growing, and longer-living elderly population, directly increase the demand for health care services across the state.
There are several other factors contributing to a strong job outlook for nurses in Florida. These include:
- Medical advancements and increasingly sophisticated technology creating a greater need for skilled nurses.
- The fact that more responsibilities for patient care delivery and management are being passed from physicians to nurses.
- Health care reforms, such as the Affordable Care Act, creating greater access to health care for the public.
- A growing number of nurses retiring from the profession. In 2013, the average working age of LPNs in Florida was 45.6, and the average working age of RNs was 47.9.*
According to the Florida Center for Nursing, there were more than 9,000 vacant RN positions, 1,767 vacant LPN positions, and 2,600 vacant CNA positions in Florida in 2013. These numbers represented substantial growth from the vacancies found in 2011, and the largest number of vacant positions were found in hospitals and home health care. The Center projects a severe nursing shortage in the coming years with an estimated 56,000 vacant RN positions and 12,500 vacant LPN positions by 2025.* So if you are considering becoming a nurse in Florida, this is an opportune time to get started.
3. The Potential to Earn a Great Salary
Nurses and nursing assistants have the potential to earn a good living. Along with their regular salary, nurses may have opportunities to boost their income by picking up overtime and extra shifts, being on-call, or teaching. In 2015, the average salaries of Florida nurses looked like this:****
- Registered nurses—$63,960
- Licensed practical nurses—$42,320
- Nursing assistants—$24,510
4. A Fulfilling Professional Field
As a nurse or nursing assistant, you could make a difference in people's lives. You could make patients' days a little brighter by bringing them hope and cheer. And the services you provide could make your patients feel better by improving both their health and quality of life. Simply put, your care and compassion could make a huge difference for patients and their families, as well as the overall health of the community. Each day could end with a great sense of accomplishment and pride in the work that you do.
Choose Your Path
Nursing schools in Florida offer several solid options to consider, any of which might lead to the career of your dreams. Take the time to explore the schools listed above, or locate the programs that are available in your area by entering your zip code below. You are steps away from finding the program that suits your education and career goals!
* Florida Center for Nursing, website last visited on September 9, 2015.
** Florida Department of Health, website last visited on September 9, 2015.
*** The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, website last visited on September 9, 2015.
**** Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, website last visited on May 6, 2016.