How to Take the Next Step in Your Nursing Career

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As a full-time nurse with a hectic schedule, it may seem impossible to take the next step in your career. It is easy within a competitive field to remain in the same position for a long period of your working life. Luckily, with a few professional tips and the right experience, you can begin climbing up the career ladder in no time. If you are already working in the field of nursing and are looking for a way to expand your career, here is a guide to help you branch out.

Advance Your Career With Further Education

With a heavy workload and a bucketful of commitments at home, many working nurses do not want to spend hours studying in a classroom. However, broadening your knowledge with further education can enrich your career in nursing. From a higher salary to a wider scope of practice, higher education can hugely impact various aspects of your career. Nurses who have gained advanced knowledge within an educational setting are able to apply for jobs in different specialties. Not to mention, having a degree under your belt is becoming the norm in nursing. There is a connection between good patient outcomes and higher education, and some organizations will not employ nurses who are not educated to a certain standard. Additionally, there is a huge array of courses for full-time nurses to choose from, and many of them can be achieved online.

Study Online

Instead of putting your career on hold to go back to school, experienced nurses have the opportunity to study and work simultaneously. Studying online enables busy nurses to advance their careers without having to put their work on hold. It is a great choice for people who have work and life commitments, and there are plenty of courses which allow them to study at their own pace. If you decide to go down this route, you should make sure the course you take is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, or the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission.

Earn More With a BSN

A nurse with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree can expect to earn a higher wage than a practicing nurse without this qualification. It is also the conventional first step on the educational ladder towards an advanced degree. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree provides nurses with a deeper knowledge in nursing and helps develop their skill set. Nurses with a BSN are able to apply for leadership roles and higher-paying roles with more responsibility within a healthcare and medical setting. Qualified nurses are also eligible to apply for roles that allow them to provide patients with a higher level of comprehensive care.

Pick a Speciality

If you have been working as a nurse for a long time, the next step could be narrowing your focus on an area of care and picking a specialism. Over the years, you may have found that you prefer working within a specific unit, or perhaps a specialism has caught your attention after liaising with nursing professionals at work. Do some personal research and ask around your organization for more information to help you pick the most suitable specialism for you.

Go One Step Further With an Advanced Degree

With a graduate degree, such as a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, you will have access to opportunities that require in-depth knowledge in nursing. Not only will an advanced knowledge base enable you to provide better care for your patients, but it also enables you to guide and lead your colleagues with confidence. An advanced degree is the key to unlocking new doors that are beyond the reach of unqualified nurses. You will become better qualified for higher-level roles, and it will give you the chance to spread your wings in the field of nursing.

Become an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse

To become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), you must have a master’s degree, a post-master’s degree, or a doctoral degree and the correct licensure to practice. APRNs are essential to the healthcare and medical system across the United States. They possess the knowledge and qualifications to assess and diagnose patients and manage their issues. APRNs can also order tests and prescribe medications to patients. There are four types of APRN roles; clinical nurse specialists (CNS), nurse practitioners (NPs), certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs), and certified nurse-midwives (CNM).

Clinical Nurse Specialist

A clinical nurse specialist (CNS) is accountable for the diagnosis and treatment of patients, managing diseases, promoting good health, and preventing illness and risk behaviors among families, individuals, and communities. A CNS can also work as a consultant for nursing staff and use their expertise to improve healthcare delivery systems. They can practice in many different settings, such as in hospitals, offices, clinics, nursing homes, and within communities.

Earning Potential

Clinical nurse specialists have the potential to earn a salary of $65,000 to $110,000 per year, depending on the location and specialty. In addition, CNSs have a high job satisfaction rate of 91 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners can provide care at an advanced level, and, depending on the state, they have the ability to practice independently. Nurse practitioners can specialize in many different areas, such as oncology, child health, women’s health, family health, gerontology, and acute care. NPs can provide comprehensive primary and preventative care and are responsible for assessing, diagnosing, and managing patients. This includes ordering tests, prescribing medication, and providing treatment.

Nurse Practitioner Licensure

In addition to achieving an advanced degree, to become an NP you must take a licensure exam in order to practice. NP students can choose to take the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) exam or American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) exam. When deciding between the AANP vs ANCC exam, there are a few factors NP students should consider. The AANP certification focuses on clinical practice and is ideal for people who want to work in clinical areas. On the other hand, the ANCC exam includes theoretical topics and research. This makes it better for potential N.P.sN.P.s who want to work in an academic setting, such as in research or as a professor.

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

The role of a certified registered nurse anesthetist revolves around anesthesia. A CRNA provides anesthesia to patients and is responsible for anesthesia-related care in many different healthcare and medical settings.

Certified Nurse-Midwife

Certified nurse-midwives provide women with primary care services, such as obstetric and gynecological care. The role also includes reproductive health and treating patient’s male partners for sexually transmitted diseases or infertility. CNMs can practice in many different settings, including in a patient’s home, at birthing centers, in private offices, at hospitals, and in clinics.

Salary Range and Employment Outlook

According to the statistics relayed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, and nurse-midwives is $117,670 per year. They have an excellent employment outlook that is predicted to grow 45 percent from 2019 to 2029. This positive outlook, which exceeds the average for other occupations, is due to the high demand for certified nursing professionals and the growing needs of the aging population within the U.S. In addition, there is a projected deficit of physicians in the country. This deficit opens up new doors for certified nursing professionals to provide comprehensive patient care.

Branch Out in Work

If you are not yet ready to pick an area to specialize in, try to broaden your horizon in your existing organization instead. Maintain an open dialogue with your colleagues and your superiors so that they are aware of your desire to take on new roles and learn new things. Your superiors are more likely to assign you more responsibility if they know you are willing, while colleagues will keep you in mind if they hear about opportunities in and out of the workplace. In addition to this, keep an eye out for in-house training and development programs. Enrolling in these programs will help add skills to your repertoire and enhance your knowledge.

Get a Mentor

Finding a mentor in the field you work in or the field you would like to work in can have many advantages. Not only can you model your practice on someone you respect and turn to them for general advice, but a mentor can also offer a professional perspective when challenges arise. With their valuable experience, they can help you make better choices at work.

Join a Professional Nursing Organization

An efficient way to expand your career is by becoming a member of a professional nursing organization. Joining an organization can present you with more opportunities to enhance your career. You will have access to exclusive events, conferences, and seminars, and have the opportunity to liaise with a diverse range of professionals in your field.