Tell Me About Nursing

What You Should Know

  • Nursing is the largest health care profession, with over 3 million jobs.
  • Nursing is one of the five occupations projected to have the largest numbers of new jobs.
  • Earnings are above average, particularly for advanced practice nurses who have additional graduate level education.

What Nurses Do

  • Registered nurses (RNs) work to promote health, prevent disease, and help patients cope with illness
  • Nurses work in a variety of health care and community settings.
  • Hospital nurses usually are assigned to one area such as surgery, maternity, pediatrics, orthopedics, emergency room, intensive care, or treatment of cancer patients, or may rotate among different departments.  
  • Ambulatory care nurses assist physicians in private practice, clinics, surgicenters, emergency medical centers, and health maintenance organizations (HMO’s).
  • Home health nurses provide periodic services, prescribed by a physician, to patients at home.
  • Nursing home nurses manage nursing care for residents with conditions ranging from debilitating chronic illness or injury to conditions of aging such as Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Public health or community nurses work in government and private agencies as well as clinics, schools, retirement communities, and other community settings.
  • Occupational health or industrial nurses provide nursing care at worksites to employees, customers, and others with minor injuries and illnesses.
  • Nurse Manager’s or nurse supervisors direct nursing activities in a variety of settings.

At the advanced practice level, nurses are prepared for specialized roles with the Master of Science in nursing (MSN) or doctorate (PhD or DNP): 

  • Nurse practitioners provide basic primary health care for specific populations.
  • Other advanced practice nurses include clinical nurse specialists, certified registered nurse anesthetists, and certified nurse-midwives.
  • Specialty leadership roles that are prepared at the graduate level include nurse educators, nurse executives, and nurses who specialize in informatics.

Related Occupations

Workers in other health care occupations with responsibilities and duties related to those of registered nurses are occupational therapists, emergency medical technicians, physical therapists, physician assistants, respiratory therapists, social workers, and physicians.

Employment Prospects/Salaries

Faster than average growth is expected through the year 2020 because of industry growth and the need to replace existing workers.  Job opportunities will be plentiful in home health, long-term, and ambulatory care.  Two out of three present jobs are in hospitals, but the trend is for more nursing care to be provided in community settings in the future.

  • Registered Nurses working in staff positions can anticipate an average annual salary of $60,000 to $70,000, depending on their academic degree and years of experience. 
  • Registered Nurses working in administrative or managerial positions, with a BSN or MSN degree, generally earn between $75,000 to $85,000 annually. 
  • Advanced practice nurses, such as Nurse Practitioners, Nurse Midwives, or Nurse Anesthetists with a MSN or DNP degree, can earn at least $90,000 to $100,000 per year.

Work Environment for Nurses

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics RNs work in well-lighted, comfortable health care facilities. Home health and public health nurses travel to patients’ homes, schools, community centers, and other sites. RNs may spend considerable time walking, bending, stretching, and standing. Patients in hospitals and nursing care facilities require 24-hour care; consequently, nurses in these institutions may work nights, weekends, and holidays. RNs also may be on call—available to work on short notice. Nurses who work in offices, schools, and other settings that do not provide 24-hour care are more likely to work regular business hours. About 20 percent of RNs worked part time in 2012, and 14 percent held more than one job.

Nursing has its hazards, especially in hospitals, nursing care facilities, and clinics, where nurses may be in close contact with individuals who have infectious diseases and with toxic, harmful, or potentially hazardous compounds, solutions, and medications. RNs must observe rigid, standardized guidelines to guard against disease and other dangers, such as those posed by radiation, accidental needle sticks, chemicals used to sterilize instruments, and anesthetics. In addition, they are vulnerable to back injury when moving patients, shocks from electrical equipment, and hazards posed by compressed gases. RNs also may suffer emotional strain from caring for patients suffering unrelieved intense pain, close personal contact with patients’ families, the need to make critical decisions, and ethical dilemmas and concerns.

Please refer to the link: Technical Standards for Nursing for more detailed information regarding the non-academic requirements for the nursing program.

Good Preparation for Success in the Program

Biology, chemistry, and algebra courses are good background for success in nursing courses. Participation in a High School health occupations program can also provide an excellent preparation for nursing as a career.

The Program at Ferris (Including Admission Requirements)

At Ferris, the students must fulfill entrance requirements for the BSN program before beginning the clinical experiences, which are provided to small groups of students in hospitals and community settings within the area. All students are admitted as “pre-nursing” students until they complete the requirements to qualify for the professional sequence of the nursing program. For admission to the professional nursing sequence: specific pre-requisite courses with must be successfully completed by the end of the Spring Semester to qualify for entry into the professional sequence.

Qualification Criteria Include

  • Cumulative Grade Point Average of 2.7 or higher
  • Completion of all science courses in no more than 2 attempts in any one course to earn a grade of “B-“ or higher
  • Math ACT score of 24 or higher or MATH 115 or 117 with a grade of “B-“ or higher
  • Completion of all required pre-requisite courses as outlined on the BSN qualification check sheet.

Admission to the Professional Sequence

Each year 32 students are admitted to the traditional program for each fall (August start) and spring (January start) semesters. Students apply to the professional sequence between March 15 and March 30 for both the fall and spring start. The Professional Sequence of the traditional BSN program is scheduled year around for 6 consecutive semesters, including summers. This allows students to complete the professional sequence (i.e. NURS courses) in two calendar years.

Students are admitted based upon their semester of qualification for the program, with the original date of application to the nursing major (also known as the priority date) used as a tie breaker when there are more qualified candidates than there are spaces available. Therefore, it is essential to apply for admission at the earliest possible date. High School students may apply at the end of their junior year.

Completion of the four year Bachelor’s degree enables the graduate to sit for the R.N. licensure exam (NCLEX). Students with an Associate’s degree and RN licensure can complete Ferris’s Bachelor’s degree (BSN) in our fully online RN to BSN completion program (see the RN to BSN Completion link). RNs with a BSN degree can then complete Ferris’s Master’s Degree in Nursing (MSN) in the areas of Nursing Education, Nursing Infor­matics, or Nursing Administration.

Accreditation Status

The BSN and MSN programs at Ferris State University are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), formerly the National League of Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC).

Ferris Student Organization

Ferris Student Nurses Association is an active group. Students can participate even before they begin taking the clinical courses within the professional sequence of the program.

For Additional Information

The ACEN publishes a variety of nursing and nursing education materials, including a list of nursing programs and information on student financial aid. For a complete list of NLN publications, write for a career information brochure. Send your request to: Communica­tions Department, Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, 3343 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30326. Phone: 404-975-5000. FAX: 404-975-5020. Website:

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Revised August 18, 2015