Today, more than 3 million registered nurses work in the U.S. However, that wasn’t always the case. In fact, there was a shortage of nurses during the Great Depression and World War II. These events led to significant changes in education and training for aspiring nurses. As a result, becoming a nurse is now more accessible than ever.

How the Journey to Become a Nurse has Changed Throughout the Years

Here is a look at the different educational opportunities that are available and what you should expect from each one. We’ll also explore the skills that nursing students of today should possess beyond simply learning about medicine and why online learning is booming.

How becoming a nurse has changed through the years

When people think about nursing, they often consider television shows such as ER and Grey’s Anatomy. As a result, they envision nurses tending to patients in the middle of the night or in emergencies. Perhaps when nursing truly gained its footing during the world wars of the 20th century, that might have been true. However, over time, the profession has changed dramatically.

This is largely because nurses are now required to have more education than in the past. It’s still true that nurses need a bachelor’s degree and certification, but the shift toward a more educated and technology-trained nursing profession has been dramatic. Nurses today must learn about technology, and as medicine becomes more tech- and data-driven, nurses must upskill in these areas.

More education is required

As science has improved, so has nursed. With each generation, it’s become increasingly scientific and medicalized. In other words, it has become more sharply focused on proven scientific medical aspects of care, as opposed to more dated approaches to medical and healthcare. As science, medicine, and technology have improved, nurses have been required to undergo more education.

These days, nurses can obtain their education online. From Bachelor’s to DNP nursing programs at accredited and leading institutions like Baylor University, nursing has never been more accessible. If you are already a registered nurse, this DNP degree enables you to further your nursing career online so you can keep working full-time while gaining expertise that will give you more choices in your career.

Today, most nurses who work in hospitals have a Bachelor’s degree in nursing. Some also have Master’s or Doctor of Nursing degrees. Furthermore, as nurses move into primary care positions, they may work as nurses in charge, nurse practitioners, or nurse anesthetists. Becoming a nurse is a competitive but incredibly rewarding field in health and wellness, so you need to prepare to take the proper steps toward your goal. Nurses are in high demand right now. Many hospitals are experiencing a shortage of nurses, particularly those with specialties such as pediatrics or cardiac care.

Technology classes are a requirement now

In the past, nurses used paper charts to write down patients’ progress and doctors’ orders. Today, however, computers are standard in most hospitals and doctors’ offices and nurses have had to learn how to use them. It’s a skill expected in nurses’ day-to-day work. Therefore, as someone interested in becoming a nurse, you should become comfortable with the use of technology, especially in a fast-evolving field. Furthermore, it’s an excellent idea to continuously upskill on computers and technology that teaches you how to use specific platforms.

Patient-centered care is rising

Nursing has taken on a greater role in healthcare over the years, but the type of care administered has also changed. It’s become increasingly focused on what is called patient-centered care. That means nurses should provide their patients with the best care possible while considering the feelings and needs of their patients.

This marks a significant change from past generations when nurses had to follow strict guidelines. In the past, they had to do what was best for the patient but not necessarily what was best for the person. Nurses are now working toward a model of care shown to significantly improve patients’ health outcomes, shorten hospital stays and reduce medical costs. It also enhances nurses’ job satisfaction, giving them more autonomy in their daily tasks.

Returning to school to become an RN takes time

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in nursing and want to become a registered nurse, you should start thinking about your education as early as possible. Nevertheless, many people who attend nursing programs say they decided to become a nurse during a career change.

If you want to become a nurse, you should start looking into programs as soon as you’re interested in the field. You don’t have to decide between a traditional and a vocational nursing program, either. In fact, many nurses who completed vocational nursing programs went on to become registered nurses after attending an online or traditional nursing program.

Online nursing degree programs are booming

Online nursing degree programs have been a big part of nursing’s evolution in the 21st century. Online degree programs are attractive to many students because they are more affordable than traditional in-person programs. One of the most significant benefits of online degree programs is the fact that you can complete a program at your own pace and study on a more convenient schedule.

Most online degree programs allow students to access their course materials from anywhere with an internet connection. Thanks to the self-paced nature of online programs, you can often finish one sooner than a traditional program. As long as you attend an accredited program, an online degree provides an excellent approach to attaining your nursing education.

A rewarding lifelong career

Becoming a nurse is an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling lifelong career choice. In fact, with the increase in specializations within the field and improvements in science and medicine, it’s a career that could place you in leading positions. Furthermore, it’s a profession that allows you to help others in meaningful ways, and it’s a career that will be in high demand for many years into the future. If you’re new to nursing, want a career change, or are looking to advance in the profession, there’s no time like the present to get started.