Nursing is an exciting and diverse field with many career options. The primary responsibilities and skills remain the same, but each path has unique elements. Understanding the differences between each profession, the work involved, and certifications will help you determine the right career path. When you find a career path that aligns with your goals, experience, and skills, you will be able to work in a fulfilling role.
Why consider career advancement in nursing?
If you have been working as a nurse for some time, there may be many reasons for you to start thinking about career advancement. With the proper education and skillset, you will get exciting new opportunities, more job satisfaction, and fantastic pay. Here are the reasons why you should strive to advance in your career.
New job opportunities
Nurses are often interested in pursuing exciting new opportunities such as leadership and management roles. You can apply for APRN titles, educator roles, management roles, or work in specialized departments. Several advanced nursing roles are available with the proper education, such as nurse educator, nurse manager, nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, and more. With so many specialization options available, there are unlimited opportunities to choose from. You can achieve your goals if you are passionate about working as an educator or in a clinical role.
Advanced nursing roles involve greater responsibilities, which come with more significant compensation. This is one of the main reasons nurses choose to advance in their careers. The earning potential for each role depends on many factors, such as your geographical location, your experience, and the type of facility where you want to work. Regardless of the differences, you will be able to earn a higher salary in an advanced role compared to the RN position. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurse anesthetists earn an average annual wage of $202,470. Regardless of the path you choose, with a specialized degree, you will be able to make a higher salary.
Greater job satisfaction
An equally important reason to consider advancing your career is for greater job satisfaction. After working as an RN for several years, you may need more motivation with your work. You may experience burnout due to long shifts and stressful work situations. You may need a change in the work environment and daily duties to reinvigorate your career.
As a nurse administrator, your work will significantly impact patient outcomes. As a nurse educator, you will be training and educating future nurses. Each advancement opportunity will provide you with essential tasks to complete, so you can lead nurses and teams and work toward the greater goal of providing excellent care to your patients. You will derive greater job satisfaction with the proper role to suit your skills.
Options for career advancement
There are several education options if you are interested in progressing in your nursing career. Here are the full degrees to consider advancing your career.
A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is an advanced degree that will train you for many specialty roles. Typically, MSN degrees will prepare you for nurse administrator, nurse educator, and APRN positions. You will also be able to find options for specialized APRN tracks, such as:
- Family nurse practitioner: As a family nurse practitioner, you can provide acute and preventative healthcare to patients. Nurse practitioners can treat patients of all ages and, depending on state restrictions, may be able to prescribe medications and administer treatments.
- Nurse educator: When you specialize as a nurse educator, you will be able to train future nurses. You can deliver instructions in clinical or higher education settings. You may also be able to provide health education and conduct staff development classes.
- Administrative roles: This may be the right path for those interested in managerial positions. Nursing organizational degrees combine clinical features with administrative and business skills such as human resource management, leadership, and financial planning.
The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a specialized degree that prepares you for the highest level of expertise. Nurses with DNP degrees are considered to be leaders in creating and implementing strategies for improved patient health. Online DNP programs such as the one offered by Walsh University are ideal for nurses who want to advance their careers and pursue a leadership role in nursing. You will be able to attain knowledge from diverse fields such as information technology, health policy, and organizational management. With a DNP degree, you will be able to play an essential role in healthcare organizations and provide expertise in areas such as quality improvement and healthcare policy. An advanced degree will help you showcase your commitment to your field and stand out from other applicants with the highest credentials in the industry. You will develop skills and knowledge in leadership. You will also be able to promote changes in the industry by studying transformative care models and industry data.
One of the highest educational levels in the nursing field is a PhD. Programs offering a PhD in nursing are science and research-based. It is a terminal degree that will be helpful for those who are interested in contributing to the nursing field through participating in medical research.
Tips for advancing your nursing career
If you are serious about taking your career to the next level, here are several tips to consider.
Pursue an advanced degree
While you can start your nursing career with an associate degree or even a diploma program, you will need to complete an advanced degree to pursue lucrative roles. Further education will help you seek promotions and attain positions that provide a higher salary. Advanced credentials will set you apart from other candidates and improve your chances of getting selected for a role of your choice. Specialized certifications can also help you advance your career. For specific certifications such as surgical nursing, you may have to complete courses, satisfy requirements, and pass exams. These certificates can help you learn new skills and showcase your qualifications when you apply for advanced roles.
Choose a specialization
Choose a specific nursing field to seek higher roles. There are dozens of specializations in nursing, and each will help you refine your skills and deliver better care. Specializations will help you focus on a particular field in which you are interested and will make you qualified for jobs in that field.
Seek more responsibilities at work
One of the best ways to advance your nursing career is by taking on additional responsibilities at work. Take the initiative and ask for more responsibilities whenever possible. Performing additional duties will help you learn new skills and make you capable of completing complex tasks. This will also show managers that you are capable of much more and will improve your chances of advancing in the facility.
Usually, nurses need more time to study industry resources to stay updated about the latest developments. There are a large number of resources available from organizations on the internet. With a click of a mouse, you will be able to learn about the latest industry news and resources. Staying informed will help you showcase industry awareness. It will also help you learn about cutting-edge technology and ideas in nursing from experts. It will enable you to understand how the industry works and ultimately help you advance your career.
Join an association
There are many benefits to joining a professional nursing association. You will be able to network with passionate and dedicated professionals in the industry and learn from them. Professional associations and organizations can also provide you with additional benefits. Many of these organizations provide employment resources and assistants if you are looking for a new job. You may also be eligible to receive discounts on courses and have the opportunity to attend conventions.
Work in different units
If you are still determining which career path to pursue, you may want to get some experience working in different units. This will help you gain valuable experience and will help you know what to expect in each unit. Having such broad experience will also make your skills more marketable when you are searching for a new job. Hospitals have to fill positions quickly and keep up with daily changes. If you have experience in different units, you will be considered an asset in the industry. This diverse experience will make you a good candidate if you are pursuing management or administrative positions.
Working in the nursing field is exciting because of the numerous opportunities it offers for career advancement. Spend time learning about the different paths available and pick the one you feel passionate about.