High-Powered Nurse: Nurses are the backbone of healthcare and have done more to help quell the pandemic and care for people all around the world than any other profession – even doctors and physicians. It is their quality care, their monitoring, and their hard work that helps those at all different stages of care.
Becoming a high-powered nurse means putting in the hours, but more than that, it means having direction. To help you find that perfect role for you, this guide will help explain every step you’ll need to take.
Your Nursing Career Path
Your nursing career path can start at the very bottom rung of nursing, or you can jump right in with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and become an RN immediately after you pass the exam and earn your license. The right route for you will depend entirely on your means and your responsibilities. Those who start off as a Certified Nursing Assistant or Licensed Nurse Practitioner often need to get started with work soon and without delay.
Those who start off with a BSN either have a job outside of nursing and want to transition their career, or they have the means to tackle that BSN in a full-time capacity.
There is no right or wrong path through nursing, just the best option for you. The only difference between one route or another is how much time it will take for you to reach your ultimate goal, though taking longer does have its merits.
After all, you will have longer to understand your career path. From what you can do to what different areas of medicines you could focus on, understanding your options and finding your passion is going to be essential to your success.
This outline is just a framework. After you earn your BSN and become an RN, you will have so many unique ways that you can take your career. You can become an APRN and choose from one of many specialties. You can train and become certified to work in a unique position, like that of a cosmetic RN. Between residency training and full-on professional certification via a degree, your options are immense and only increase the more nurses are relied on by the state and the country.
In the past, nurses had very minimal autonomy, and now today, several states offer their family nurse practitioners full practice authority giving them the ability to diagnose, treat, send for tests, and even write prescriptions. They can even open up their own practice, allowing these APRNs the chance not to just work as a healthcare practitioner but also as a business owner.
Though how you personally customize your career will be unique to you, the general structure of your nursing career path will look like:
Certified Nursing Assistant (Optional)
If you need to start working fast and want a stable job for any reason, then training to become a certified nursing assistant is a great way to start your nursing career. CNAs provide holistic care to those who are in recovery, and more commonly for those in care homes. They provide great levels of care that can help patients keep their dignity and improve their comfort. As a nursing assistant, you might want to get your CPR card as you’ll probably need it if you’re planning on finding a job in a care home center.
Licensed Nurse Practitioner (Optional)
Licensed Nurse Practitioners are another type of nursing professional. LNPs typically work underneath RNs and also provide a lot of holistic and supportive care for patients. To become an LNP, you will need around six months’ worth of training, as opposed to the CNA certification that only takes a few weeks. You could skip both the CNA certification and the LNP certification, however, by working towards and earning your BSN.
Think of a nurse, and you think of the RN role. Registered Nurses make up the bulk of healthcare professionals and are key to saving lives and improving the comfort, dignity, and levels of care for patients at all levels. There is a large RN shortage as well, which means that the role fetches a decent wage and, more importantly, is very easy to get started in once you hold the necessary qualification.
When it comes to becoming an RN, you can either earn the Associate’s Degree in Nursing or the Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The ADN, however, is no longer recommended for a variety of reasons. One of the most critical reasons is quite simple: BSN-holding RNs save more lives. Their quality of care is so superior that the mortality rate of patients drops. This is just one of the reasons why states are pushing for a greater number of BSN-RNs and also why there is the “BSN in 10” program which has encouraged ADN-holding RNs to upgrade their degree to a BSN.
Personally, for you, the reason why you will want to earn a BSN is that it will allow you to continue your progression. If you earn your ADN, you will still need to earn that BSN (though you can fast-track) if you want to become an APRN.
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse
The next level up of nurses is that of the advanced practice registered nurse. This is where your specialty and interests come in. You can work as a family nurse practitioner, a nurse-midwife, a neonatal nurse practitioner, an oncology nurse practitioner, and so on. APRNs provide advanced and high levels of care and work more closely alongside doctors. In some instances, they even replace doctors and physicians, though, in these situations, there is often a shortage of physicians to start with.
Nurse Educator (Optional)
You can further your career even more by becoming a nurse educator. To become an educator, you will either need a PhD or an EdD. This additional degree helps you translate your practical and medical knowledge for the classroom so that you can then start training up the next generation of nurses.
Nurse Leader (Optional)
To become a nurse leader, you often need to be an APRN, though there is a certified nurse leader degree (CNL) that will prep you to become a leader as an RN as well. In the past, you didn’t need a special degree or certification in order to lead, but with how advanced healthcare systems are and will continue to develop to be, earning formal training in leadership is now highly recommended.
Other Nurse Positions
There are actually many great nursing positions that you can work towards that don’t fit in the above categories. You can work in policy, in research, and so on. As your specialty is in human health, there is no shortage of opportunities for you to find exciting work.
Nursing Degrees and Education
There are many different education options for nurses. From certifications to workshops, how you continue to learn after earning your qualifications is varied and should be invested in for the sake of your career and for the patients that you treat. When it comes to the nitty-gritty, however, there are only three degrees that matter.
1. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing
The BSN is the perfect gateway degree into nursing. There are so many different versions of the BSN as well, though what they teach is relatively consistent from school to school. One of the most popular iterations of the BSN today is the online degree. With online education, you can remain in your own home or even move to a location that is more money-efficient. The only thing you need to worry about is whether you can apply. Though many states are within the enhanced nurse licensure compact (eNLC), there are still several states that aren’t included, and the education requirements are going to be slightly different because of it.
You won’t ever find yourself in a situation where you accidentally enrolled in a degree that won’t allow you to work in your state; however, as the admissions advisor would catch that early on and help direct you to an option that is a better fit.
You can also fast-track your BSN. If you hold an associate’s degree in nursing, then you can fast-track through the BSN. If you have a bachelor’s degree in any other subject, then chances are you can skip a few of the credits you already have under your belt and get through your BSN sooner
2. The Master of Science in Nursing
The MSN is the minimum requirement to become an APRN. You can specialize in so many different roles with a master’s degree, and you aren’t necessarily beholden to that role either. If you wanted to change specialties, for example, then you could earn a post-graduate certificate.
3. A Doctorate in Nursing
While currently you only need to have an MSN in order to become an APRN, there is talk of increasing the education requirements. Just as the ADN has been replaced with the BSN, you may in the future need to earn a doctorate degree in order to continue working as an APRN. For now, however, earning a DNP can help you significantly improve your career prospects. Not many hold a doctorate, and you can get your MSN and doctorate degree all in one swoop.
A top BSN to DNP program will take around 3.33 years to complete and will include two clinical placement periods (one for your MSN, one for your DNP). The reason why you can get started with your BSN instead of an MSNis that programs like these include MSN-level courses, so you technically earn both degrees all at once without taking breaks.
This program requires between 63 to 70 credit hours and also more than 1000 clinical hours, but if you want to become a DNP-holding nurse practitioner, there is no better route. It can be very hard to jump back into education after taking a break, but with an integrated degree like this, you can get it all done and then be done (unless you want to earn a post-graduate certificate).
4. Post-Graduate Certificate
Post-graduate certificates are fast-tracked MSN degrees that allow you to qualify and be licensed in a new field. If you find that the specialty you initially trained for has lost its spark, you can change tracks with a post-graduate certificate. If you want to specialize further and offer a unique skillset, once again, a post-graduate certificate is the way to go.
High-Powered Nurse: High-Powered Nurse: Every degree you invest in will require you to undergo clinical training. What you may not know yet having not worked as a nurse is that there are several career opportunities where you can train and learn on the go. You will need to have a minimal amount of education under your belt, depending on the opportunity. For example, you can become a cosmetic registered nurse by working alongside a plastic surgeon and then applying (with references) to the board.
These instances are for when you don’t need advanced knowledge, just experience.
You may need in-person clinical training even before you get started with your next degree. To earn a doctorate in midwifery, for example, you need to have worked in a mother-baby unit, under a certified midwife, or even with a doula. The good news is that working this way allows you to really experience what APRNs do and decide for yourself whether or not that is the right route for you.
What You Can Do With Your Nursing Experience
You can work practically anywhere as a nurse. Within healthcare, you can work in hospitals, clinics, satellite clinics, with charities, and even remotely, thanks to the rise in telehealth services and infrastructures.
Outside, the options are almost limitless. You can be brought on as part of the medical team whenever the budget for it exists. From movie sets to concerts and festivals to monitoring marathons and sports games – the options keep going. When your specialty is in human health, your work is wherever people are. Whether they can afford to have a dedicated nurse on-site is another matter entirely, but with this in mind, be creative in your career. You can explore your interests and find a job role that really ticks all of your boxes. You deserve to feel thrilled and in love with your career. Not only is this the best way forward for you, but it is also the best situation for your patients as well.
Also Read: What Do You Need to Work as a Nurse Practitioner?