Nursing is one of the most important careers in the world. Nurses of all levels are the backbone of healthcare, and with the advancements in both the role and the responsibilities, there are more ways to customize your nursing career and make it your own than ever before.
There are so many ways that you can transform your nursing career. You can work directly with patients in a role that provides you with full practice authority; you can work behind the scenes and train the next generation of nurses; or work on improving patient care outcomes by updating protocols.
From working within healthcare to working in policy, to even working privately, there are so many ways to enjoy a fulfilling, rewarding career as a nurse.
Why Nursing is Such a Great Career
Nursing is an excellent career to embark on for a few key reasons:
- Nursing is in huge demand, with RN roles expected to grow 9% by 2030 and APRN roles expected to grow by 45% to 54% by 2030.
- APRN roles are expanding, meaning more career opportunities both within and outside of healthcare.
- More states are joining the Nurse Licensure Compact, giving more nurses the opportunity to relocate for personal and professional reasons.
- Nurses earn a median wage of $77,680, while APRNs earn a median wage of $123,835. Some roles available to those with an MSN or doctorate earn over $200,000 annually.
How to Get Started in Nursing
There are several nursing roles that you can choose to kick start your nursing career. If you need to get started working fast then you may be interested in becoming a certified nursing assistant. This role only takes a few weeks to train for.
If you want to become a registered nurse right off the bat, however, then you will need to earn either an Associate’s Degree in Nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The ADN takes two years on average to complete and the BSN takes around four years to complete. If you do earn the ADN, however, you will not be able to advance until you earn a BSN.
The good news is that you can often transfer credits earned during your ADN to fast-track your BSN. You can also fast-track a BSN if you have a non-nursing degree, particularly if it was in a STEM field.
How to Advance Your Career in Nursing
There are four main types of advanced roles you can work towards in nursing, but the number of job options is massive and growing. Your options, and how you get there, will depend on the state you operate and work in. How you become a nurse practitioner in Mississippi will differ to how you become a nurse practitioner in California, for example. The routes are very similar, yes, but due to different laws and regulations where you can go to university and what programs you can enroll in (including what you can do with your degree) will differ. Always look into your options based on your state, as this will give you the most specific information.
Generally, however, you will be able to advance your career in these three ways:
1. With a Masters or Post-Graduate Degree
The first way you can advance your career is to earn a master’s degree.An MSN degree is the gateway to becoming an APRN. If you want to change tracks, however, you won’t want to earn a second MSN degree. Instead, you will want to earn a post-graduate certificate. These certificates allow you to fast-track through a second MSN by focussing on the unique courses that you don’t have so that you can add to your credentials faster.
2. With a Doctorate
The terminal degree option in nursing is that of a doctorate. You can earn a PhD, a DNP, or an EdD depending on your goals. The PhD or EdD can be a great choice if you want to shift your career into nurse education, while the DNP is ideal for those who want to stay at the top of their field or even move into leadership positions like the head of nursing at a hospital.
3. With a Non-License Master’s Degrees
There are several master’s degrees that can help your nursing career but won’t qualify towards your license. A master’s qualification in Clinical Nurse Leadership, for example, can help improve your leadership and business skillset if your goal is to move away from patient care and into the administrative side of nursing and healthcare.