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Is Nursing A Stem Major?
STEM stands for "science, technology, engineering, and mathematics" and a STEM major is a degree that relates to these disciplines.
But does that include nursing?
Is Nursing a STEM Major?
Is nursing a STEM major? It's a simple question that should produce a simple answer, but it does not.
A few years ago, someone asked this question on the Q&A site, Quora. Here's a list of the most popular answers, all from nurses and other qualified healthcare professionals:
"YES of course it is."
"Yes and no. "
It's fair to say that the general public is divided on this topic, but what do the experts have to say?
Well, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics includes "health occupations" on its list of STEM professions, but other official lists, including the one maintained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), don't include nursing or health care.
The Department of Commerce's Economics and Statistics Administration doesn't include nursing as a STEM profession either. However, the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA includes a list of "Health Professions" under a STEM category, of which "Nursing" is one.
Even if we take the word of the Bureau of Labor Statistics above all others, it doesn't specifically include "nursing" and focuses more on general health care.
Other agencies and organizations seem to build their list around the strict definition of "fundamental science and engineering" and while nurses definitely use science, it's applied science and not fundamental science.
The truth is that there is no strict definition and it varies across different organizational bodies, educational institutions, and government agencies.
That means none of the nurses in the aforementioned forum posts and Quora pages are wrong.
What is Considered a STEM Major?
As noted previously, STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, but that's a pretty broad range of subjects as most fields (including the nursing profession) use varying elements of all those things.
Typically, a STEM field covers the following:
Science Courses and Professions
Including biology, physics, chemistry, and environmental science. Neuroscience is also typically included here, as is biomedical science.
Technology Courses and Professions
Information technology, cybersecurity, programming, and research professions are all STEM fields.
Engineering Courses and Professions
Engineering spans the design and development of infrastructure that relies on scientific principles, including electrical engineering and mechanical engineering.
Mathematics Courses and Professions
There is no official definition of mathematics in relation to STEM fields. It's a subject that typically includes professions and majors relating to algebra and arithmetic.
Why is STEM Education So Important?
STEM professionals help to build the country's infrastructure and ensure the world keeps moving in the right direction. STEM fields are responsible for numerous game-changing and life-saving innovations and in a post-pandemic world, their importance has never been more evident.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are two unfilled STEM jobs for every unemployed worker in the United States, and as the needs of society get more complex, that statistic will likely increase.
In response to this, there has been a huge push to get more students into STEM careers, helping to create the innovators of the future.
What is the Best STEM Profession?
It depends on what you define as the "best". But if we consider job growth and salary and give them equal weight, the fields of software development and mathematics are very good options. The median salary for a software developer is over $110,000 a year and the field is experiencing promising growth right now.
Mathematicians and statisticians earn a little less than software developers on average, but it's a field that has experienced some huge growth in recent years.
What are the Hardest STEM Majors?
In terms of total weekly study hours and the complexity of study topics, biomedical sciences and genetics are some of the toughest STEM fields.
But this is not an easy question to answer as what seems impossible for you might be a walk in the park for someone else.
If you're considering a STEM major, think about your study schedule and degree requirements as well as your expected salary and potential career growth.
What are the Easiest STEM Majors?
Computing and information technology, military technologies, meteorology, and engineering technologies are often said to be some of the easiest STEM majors. Again, though, it's a subjective question and all STEM majors can be very difficult and demanding.
What STEM Jobs Pay the Most?
Although it's not easy to find the hardest or easiest STEM major, it's a little easier to find the one that pays the most money.
The STEM jobs that typically pay the most include radiologists, network security engineers, network architects, software engineers, and computer scientists. All of these professions pay a median salary in excess of $100,000.
For comparison, the average salary for nurses in the United States is $80,100. If you're looking for a career where you can positively impact the future and make a lot of money, you may want to consider a field in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. If you want more of a hands-on experience, one that is just as important, stick with your nursing education.
Summary: Is a Nursing Degree a STEM Major?
To summarize, many organizations don't consider nursing to be a STEM field. However, some colleges—and many nurses—disagree, and there is no official definition to prove them wrong.
What we can say for sure is that nurses use science, technology, and even mathematics in their daily duties and are often the first to utilize advancements in all of these fields.
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