Nursing is a great career path because not only is it so clear-cut, it has huge potential for every single nurse. There is a massive shortage of nurses in the United States, and because of that, you will never have a hard time finding a great job in the workplace that you want. Whether that is in a hospital, clinic, or anywhere else in-between, your work is in demand. By working your way up the ladder, those options only expand until you can work almost anywhere. In education, on a movie set, next to a sports field as a national team plays next to you, the options become almost limitless.
Nurses are the backbone of healthcare, but there is so much more to nursing than just being a registered nurse. Being an RN is the start of your career, not the end. Continue to push, and you open yourself up to very well-paid, in-demand roles that give you freedom and power to make the best decisions for yourself.
The only thing you need to do at the start of your career is to go in with direction and dedication. It does take a long time and a lot of effort to make it to the top tier of nursing, but it is more than worthwhile. All you need is to follow through this guide and then start your new role as a nurse.
The Stages of Nursing
There are a variety of roles or stages of nursing, and the fact is you don’t actually have to go through all of them in order to apply. You can skip straight into registered nursing, for example, if you already have a relevant bachelor’s degree and use that to fast-track your BSN degree. If you want to work while learning, however, then you will likely start off as a CNA and work your way up.
1. Certified Nursing Assistant
A certified nursing assistant is the lowest level of nursing you could opt for. They typically provide the most supportive roles. They will clean out the bedpans, keep areas organized, and so on. It only takes a few weeks to become a CNA and then take the state exam, so you can very quickly begin your new career and have plenty of job openings to choose from.
2. Licensed Nurse Practitioner
You will want to start working on becoming a Licensed Nurse Practitioner or LNP as soon as you possibly can. This role takes a few months of education and then a state exam, but once you become an LNP, you can enjoy higher pay and more responsibilities.
3. Registered Nurse
You can become a Registered Nurse through two avenues, though if you want to progress any further, you really only have one option ahead of you. You can become a Registered Nurse with an associate or ADN degree, but because that is not a BSN, no matter how much experience you have, you will never be able to qualify for an MSN later on.
Going for the BSN now will save you a lot of effort in the future, and will also train you to be a better RN. You may even be able to negotiate a higher salary than your ADN-RN counterparts.
4. Advanced Practice Registered Nurse
Advanced Practice Registered Nurses are technically the highest type of nursing you can aim for, but there are still ways to go up from there. You will need an MSN in an APRN specialization to qualify at minimum. To reach higher tiers within the APRN role, then you will want to earn a doctorate.
There are three main types of nursing degrees, though depending on the state you live in, you may need to prove additional ongoing education to be able to renew your nursing license. While you are completing your next level of nursing degree, you won’t need to worry about this, but once you finish and have graduated, you will need to continue to train and earn certifications.
1. Bachelor of Nursing
You can fast-track through your BSN if you already have a Bachelor’s and can transfer credits over. It is always worth asking to see if you already have a Bachelor’s because there is no reason in repeating credits for the fun of it. It will also help you save money in the long run, and work to cut back on the time it takes before you graduate.
If you don’t have a bachelor’s then don’t worry. Your BSN will cover everything that you need to know to become a highly qualified Registered Nurse and prepare you in the future for when you finally go on to complete your MSN.
2. Masters of Nursing
Your MSN can only be completed after you have a BSN under your belt. By this time, you will also need to know what type of APRN you want to become, as there are a variety of types of MSN degrees available. Giving yourself time to figure out what type of nurse you want to be before you go and start your MSN is a smart idea; otherwise, you could end up in a position that doesn’t suit you.
To determine what type of APRN position would suit your best, it’s a good idea to try to introduce yourself to the different roles and to different areas of medicine. You will know you have found a good fit when the medicine and science themselves interest you greatly, and you are happy within that working environment. There are so many options and so much need for qualified nurses that you don’t have to worry about choosing the “best” one. They are all great, and they are all paid very well.
One of the most popular options is the MSN-FNP route, which would allow you to become a family nurse practitioner. FNP nurses hold many of the same responsibilities as Primary Care Physicians, and can even run their own clinics. You can even go on to earn a DNP-FNP from Marymount University to become a Dr. of your own, though not a M.D. A good way to refer to yourself is as a Doctoral Nurse, as it highlights your position as a doctor without confusing your patients.
3. Doctor of Nursing
Doctorate degrees are also available in their own individual specializations. You can become, as stated, a DNP-FNP. You can also go on to earn an EdD in nursing, which makes you perfect to translate your work from a hospital into a university setting. For those who want a better work/life balance, while still making a significant impact on the world, a nurse educator is the way to do it. There is a huge shortage of qualified nurse educators, which means there is a limit to how many nurses can progress and train themselves every year. By becoming a nurse educator, you actually have a greater impact on the country and its health because you are working to train up the next generation of RNs or APRNs.
Work in a hospital as a specialist, or even work your way up into managerial roles, all the way up to the Director of Nursing or the Chief of Nursing. You will have direct control and responsibility over your entire nursing staff and the quality of care your patients are provided.
For a more consistent work/life balance, you can work, or even start your own clinic, as an FNP. The only time this won’t apply is if you take your work to an emergency clinic, but even then, you can really help your community by keeping the hospital’s ER free except for the most serious cases, while you help those with minor injuries to the best of your ability.
Work to teach the next generation of nursing students, and enjoy that enviable professor work/life balance in the process. You will have summers, spring breaks, and Christmas breaks given to you, guaranteed, year after year. It’s a great choice for those who want to help the most amount of people and also settle down.
4. On-Site Nursing
If you have the connections, you can work on-site on the medical staff almost anywhere. You can even be the on-site nurse for a big movie production. You can work as part of the medical team for a national sports team. There are so many places you can work as a nurse and be paid very well for your efforts.
When it comes to furthering your nursing career, having direction is important, but so too is listening to your own body. Take your time, adjust as you need to, and remember to safeguard your health and mental wellbeing. Heading towards a nervous breakdown is not helpful, and can make going back in and progressing again later on almost traumatic. Care for yourself, stay steady, and you will reach your dream. A few extra months or a year are worth it if you can continue to make real steps towards your future.
Article Submitted By Community Writer