While there might be a few opportunities for people looking to break into the nursing field without a degree, such as working for a retirement home or a hospital, a high school diploma will probably be a necessity. In order to move up the ladder into the higher paying nursing jobs, you'll need a degree. Several different options for this exist, but the highest paying nursing jobs will require a 4-year bachelor's degree (Bachelor of Science, Nursing) which is available at many four-year universities and community colleges. There is also a 2-year associate's degree, offered at many community colleges and technical schools. Another less likely possibility is the hospital diploma. Years ago, it was more common to receive a hospital diploma by working as a sort of apprentice alongside experienced healthcare workers, as well as completing courses at a local university. This has fallen out of favour in recent years due to funding and liability issues, though a few programs still exist. Many of the college courses for students pursuing a nursing degree are challenging. Many classes are focused on science and math, medical terminology and biology, and lots of hours studying and memorizing can be expected. A clean background check and drug screening are also almost a given for people in the healthcare industry, since the level of trust between employer and employee is very high in the nursing field.
Nurses work long hours, often on their feet, and evenings and weekends are almost a given. Frequently, 12-hour or split shifts are necessary as well, and since hospitals and nursing homes require 24-hour coverage, frequently the less desirable "overnight" hours are assigned to nurses with less seniority. Nurses that work in a general practice, or in a doctor's office, might find the hours and workload to be more palatable, however, the salary might reflect this convenience. This is a career for people who are motivated, enjoy a structured workplace, and have a high energy level. Patience and kindness are also important career skills for the prospective nursing student.