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Career Profile: So you want to be a nurse?

This nurse is checking vitals on this patient to make sure he's in good health and check if his vitals are normal.

Photo courtesy: Dr. Vicki A. Keough, PhD, RN, FAAN

This nurse is checking vitals on this patient to make sure he's in good health and check if his vitals are normal.

Erika Quezada, Reporter

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Nurses care for patients in hospitals, schools, and other health care settings. Some teach other nurses or do medical research. Nurses play a role in keeping people healthy. Nurses work with patients can be split into four main steps: they assess patients’ physical, mental, and emotional health, help design and carry out treatment plans for patients, monitor the results of treatments and tell patients and their families about their medical options. One of the nurses Mrs. Rosie Hernandez works as a registered nurse here at Morton East High School to help students get their vaccines, check their vitals, treat the students who are suffering from an injury, etc.

WHO can do this?: Someone who is interested in math and science, cares about helping patients who are critically ill, who will be on their feet doing physical activity most of the time and someone who earns their high school diploma and complete the nursing program to earn either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

WHAT does it take?: To become a nurse, you need a high school diploma. You should take senior-level science, math, and English courses in high school. Then you must apply to a nursing program. Entrance requirements for nursing programs depend on the college. After high school, you can either earn a degree or diploma. You can earn the 4-year Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN) and the other option is the 2-year associate degree in nursing (ADN).

WHERE can you do it?: Morton College, Chicago State University, Dominican University, Elmhurst College, Illinois State University, Lewis University, Loyola University Chicago, Northern Illinois University, Rush University, Saint Xavier University and University of Illinois at Chicago.

WHEN can you do it?: 2-4 years.

WHY should you do it?: To experience concern for people’s well-being, able to calm people who are scared or in pain, develop good communication skills, able to accept responsibility and supervise others, and they generally get benefits as well as a salary.

HOW much will you make?: Entry salary: $54,850/yr and Median salary: $67,140/yr.

There are many community colleges and public universities in Illinois that offer a two-year associate’s and a four-year bachelor’s degrees in nursing. The least expensive tuition is at Morton College for the tuition of $3,668 if you live in the district or $7,764 if you live in state with the fees that cost $852. Some private schools offer students scholarships that reduce tuition: Dominican offers Morton students the most; Concordia, Saint Xavier, Lewis and Elmhurst are also pretty generous The most economic option would be to pursue an associate’s degree at Morton College for two years. Then if you desire to continue your education to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing then you can transfer your credits at a four-year university towards a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Stay away from private, for-profit proprietary schools like Chamberlin College of Nursing and Northwestern College-Chicago Campus that offer degrees in nursing.


The person that I interviewed is Dr. Vicki Keough who works as a registered nurse and is currently a dean and professor of the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing at Loyola University Chicago.

1) Tell me about your job. Is what you do different in any way from what others in your occupation do?                                                                                                                               There is a lot of different varieties of what we do, I am currently a ER nurse and I have been working as a nurse my whole life, there is no end to a different variety of types of nurses.

2) Can you tell me about your educational background and how you got into this field?                                                                                                                                                                     There are different ways, they have to take a board state exam since it is required to become a nurse, I got a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in nursing. Another way is you can get your associate’s degree.

3) What personal characteristics are required for someone to be successful for this field?                                                                                                                                                                The first one is you have to have good math and science grades because that is the most important thing you need to learn about since you will be using it when your working as a nurse and we deal with patients with complex diseases and it requires a lot of knowledge with math and science and second we have to take care of the patients who are critically ill.

4) How much job security is there for people in your field?                             

We have wonderful job security! Nursing profession and people have the most profession. We are known to have the most profession by the United States. Every student that graduates gets a job working as a nurse.

5) What other jobs could you do with the skills you have gained in this field?                                                                                                                                                                                             Like I was answering the first question you can become a teacher, educator, work at a clinic, government, hospital, be a researcher, etc. There are a lot of varieties to work as a nurse in those settings.

6) What do you think the future holds for people in your occupation?

The future is very bright for nurses because there is a lot of potential for nurses to grow their potential.

7) What are the biggest challenges in your job?                              

The challenges is to have more respect and independence in the health care team.

8) Are there many opportunities in your field? What should people do to get started?                                                                                                                                                                            There are so many opportunities for nurses but most importantly you have to study math and science so you can use it in the nursing field. A lot of nurses start with an associate’s degree but it is important to start with a bachelor’s degree.

9) What do you like about your job?                                         

I like treating all different types of patients with their families, like my job as an educator and a dean of nursing.

10) What do you dislike about your job?                                              

What I dislike is that it’s difficult that we can’t take all the students who wants to be a nurse because it’s difficult to be admitted into the nursing program; I would love everyone that wants to be a nurse to have that opportunity.

11) Do you know any internships or a place I should be working to gain experience in this career as a high school graduate?

Think about working as a nursing assistant and find hospitals that offer programs in the Chicago area to work as a nursing assistant so that it can show you what it would look like when you work in a hospital or any other nursing setting.

12) Do you know any scholarships or awards they offer for this career?                                                                                                                                                                                                                  There’s many! Every school offers scholarships for nursing. These nursing associations such as the American Nurses Association and the Illinois Nurse Association offers scholarships for nursing students. There’s a lot of opportunities for these scholarships.





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The student news site of Morton East High School
Career Profile: So you want to be a nurse?