For anyone looking to enter the workforce, a nursing career is an excellent place to start. You’re serving others, part of a healthcare team, and making a difference in the world. And, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data from May of 2017, the nursing profession is one of the best paying fields in the U.S. with an average income of $70,000 per year.
It’s also a growing field. A career in nursing benefits from recent growth in the profession as a whole, increasing by 20% according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Interestingly, Minnesota is one of the best states to start a career in nursing. Apart from the beautiful lakes and “Minnesota-nice” atmosphere, the range of employment opportunities is far and wide. The Mayo Clinic in Rochester employs over 34,000 people in their hospitals and clinics in the area. Other major employers in the state include Essentia Health, Sanford Health, Allina Health System, Presbyterian Homes, and UNC Health Care System.
Another well-known medical institution is Ridgeview Medical Center based in Waconia, Minnesota with clinics west of the metro area including Chaska, Delano, Belle Plaine, and Winsted.
In addition, nurses will find job opportunities in the military as well in Minnesota. The Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Air Force, among others, are primary employers in the nursing field in Minnesota, looking for qualified Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses, Nurse Practitioners, and other caregivers in the health profession.
For new nursing graduates seeking a job in Minnesota, there’s an uptick in salary range that will appeal to those looking into the field. According to the Minnesota Employment and Economic Department, the average income for a new nursing grad increased from $16.63 per hour in 2005 to $19.94 in 2015, a 20% increase in only ten years time.
Of course, a nursing career is about more than the salary. As a caregiver, you see the daily rewards of helping others and providing guidance and assistance to those in need. It’s a career that is all about giving people hope, sometimes in their time of great need. There’s nothing quite like serving a patient in a hospital or clinic and providing the medical assistance they require.
Apart from those wonderful rewards — that is, meeting the needs of people and working in an area close to the Mayo Clinic, Allina Health, Sanford Health and many other health-related institutions — a career in nursing benefits from living in a place like Minnesota. Minneapolis specifically is a vibrant city and home to one of the best park systems and the most amazing and extensive bike trails in the country (a good match for anyone interested in a healthy lifestyle), according to the Department of Natural Resources in Minnesota.
It’s the “land of ten thousand lakes” as well, although there are actually closer to 12,000 that are larger than 10 acres or more. (Fun fact:t there are more than 20,000 smaller lakes, too.) That means weekend fishing trips in the summer and ice fishing in the winter, plus all of the boating activities, waterskiing, and many other adventures in the open water.
A career in nursing benefits from the many open positions in the field, the impressive salary ranges, the personal fulfillment in helping others, and — in Minnesota — the vibrant city life, far-ranging park system, wonderful bike trails, and watersports on the lakes and rivers.
What can you do with a BSN degree?
One of the most interesting discoveries you can make when looking into the nursing field is that there is an opportunity to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, also known as a BSN. This degree is a full, four-year accredited major with all of the medical training, science classes, and electives you would expect from an accredited university or college.
The degree is well-regarded because the education goes well beyond the more specialized training of an Associate’s degree as a Registered Nurse, which does not include the added coursework required for a full Bachelor of Science, which includes math and science education, liberal arts courses, and electives for a more well-rounded education.
Another key difference is that a BSN involves training from a fully accredited college or university according to the academic standards of those institutions. A BSN goes beyond the credentials required to become a Registered Nurse (often a two-year program) or a Licensed Practical Nurse (sometimes a one- or two-year course).
Once completed, a BSN degree opens doors at medical facilities, clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and well beyond because of the more comprehensive training. It’s widely considered a more well-rounded education and matches or even exceeds the requirements of other fields such as teacher education, communications, biology, and engineering.
A BSN also allows you to continue your education if desired into a Master’s program, which is required if you want to pursue a position as a Nurse Practitioner. And, of course, it also prepares you for additional nursing education and certification that a hospital or clinic may require.
Positions available after obtaining a BSN include a Registered Nurse (or RN) at a hospital or clinic, a Licensed Practical Nurse (or LPN), plus many other roles. Another important note to make about a BSN degree is that it involves practical experience (called “clinicals”) which prepare the graduate for working in the field instead of only relying on classroom training.
As the Bureau of Labor Statistics website explains, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at a college or university “usually include additional education in the physical and social sciences, communication, leadership, and critical thinking. These programs also offer more clinical experience in nonhospital settings. A bachelor’s degree or higher is often necessary for administrative positions, research, consulting, and teaching.”
What to do after getting a BSN
After obtaining a degree like a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, the next step is to become licensed by the National Council Licensure Examination (or NCLEX-RN). This is a rigorous testing program that ensures those who have a degree in the nursing field are ready to work in the profession, so the testing requirement focus on areas such as safe and efficient patient care.
Every state requires nurses seeking a job in the field complete the NCLEX-RN exams, and they are consistent across every state. It’s critical to know, as part of a degree program that applies nationwide, what will be required once you graduate.
And, some clinics and hospitals require additional licenses, including certifications in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), basic life support (BLS), and advanced cardiac life support (ACLS). In addition to those certifications, some employers will require a criminal background check.
From there, after obtaining the certification required and passing the NCLEX-RN exams, a newly trained nurse can start the job search with the full assurance that there are not only many positions available (especially in Minnesota) and a high average salary, but the standard training from a BSN degree will prepare you to enjoy a successful and rewarding career.
How to interview
As you might expect, once you start the interviewing process in the nursing field, there will be a technical discussion about your aptitude and training. As explained by the Minnesota Employment and Economic Department, the key is to come to an interview prepared for this technical discussion, especially as it relates to your medical knowledge, understanding of medical procedures, prescription drugs, and out-patient care.
For the nursing field, this also means being ready to demonstrate the knowledge and training you received during your Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at a college or university, and also your practical knowledge and skills after passing the NCLEX-RN exams.
Fortunately, employers will have many assurances about your accreditation, based on your BSN degree and the NCLEX-RN exams — so once the technical discussions are completed, be prepared to also explain your background and interest in the nursing profession, and your people- skills for working in the career (both with patients and staff).
Top employers in MN for nursing
There’s no question the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota is one of the most widely known employers in the state. The institution employs over 34,000 people in Rochester alone. The Mayo Clinic, founded in 1864, currently has several open positions available including a Licensed Practical Nurse, Registered Nurse, Registered Nurse Supervisor, Registered Nurse Manager, and a Nurse Practitioner (which requires a Master’s degree).
There are many others to choose from in the Twin Cities as well, including Essentia Health, Sanford Health, Allina Health System, Presbyterian Homes, and UNC Health Care System. The Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Air Force are also well-regarded as employers in the nursing profession in Minnesota, particularly for those who have a military background.
Typical Minnesota nursing career
So what does a career in nursing look like in Minnesota? As you’ve seen, there are many benefits, starting with a wide range of open positions, a high average salary for many varied roles, a pristine setting, and an opportunity to serve others in a practical way.
A nursing career starts with obtaining the right degree at the right institution, and involves certifications and exams that prove you have acquired the right level of education. From there, it’s all about choosing the right career track and the nursing department that best suits your interests and education — such as neurology, neonatal care, or the emergency room.