The world will keep evolving, but one thing will remain consistent: the need for nurses. The role of qualified nurses isn’t limited to providing bedside care and education, leadership roles, and advocacy. As the population ages, new health complications tend to grow. Savvy and compassionate nurses can make a difference with their services all around the world. If you are planning to become a nurse, the education and career paths are numerous. Here is a step by step guide for you to follow as you pursue a nursing career path:
A nursing career offers ample opportunities. Whether you are switching from another career or thinking of a specialty in nursing, here’s a guide to pursuing a nursing career path.
Step 1 – Earn a Degree
Like any other career, formal education is mandatory to become a registered practicing nurse (RN). Every position in the nursing career requires a bachelor’s degree, except for a few exceptions. You can get a few posts by doing associate degrees. And for a few, you need advanced degrees. These nursing programs include classroom instructions and clinical experience. Hands-on knowledge will be possible with clinical classes as you will handle real-life scenarios and work with nurse teams.
Choose a nursing program that can get managed along with your busy life. If you want to kickstart your career soon, you can become an RN; an associate program needed for this job takes less time. However, employers prefer hiring nurses with higher degrees, such as DNP. The Doctorate of Nursing Practice produces leaders in nursing. This degree provides the highest level of expertise. But how long is a DNP program? DNP can take you anywhere from 18 months to 4 years, based on the courses designed by various universities. Several employers help with the tuition fee if the practicing nurses opt for higher degrees. Some of the other nursing degrees include Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), and doctoral degrees that include DNP, Ph.D., DN, DNSc, and nursing diplomas. These degrees are available on campus and also taught online.
Step 2 – Get a Nursing License
After completing education, you need to demonstrate your nursing skills and knowledge. These exams give a license to the candidates who wish to begin practicing. For a nurse license, you need to pass the National Nursing Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN). For this exam, an individual’s credentials must be correct. If you want to be a Certified Nursing Assistant, pass a state competency exam to earn a state license. While aiming to be a Licensed Practical Nurse, you need to complete the certificate program and pass NCLEX-PN. Then, complete ADN or BSN nursing diplomas and pass NCLEX-RN to get a Registered Nurse license. For a Nurse Practitioner license, complete a Masters of Science in Nursing, pass the NCLEX-RN followed by clearing certification exam administered by organizations such as the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.
For Nurse Midwife license, complete MSN, clear NCLEX-RN exam, and national certification exam of American Midwifery Certification Board. For an opportunity in Nurse Anesthetist, complete MSN, and pass the NCLEX-RN.
Step 3 – Lifelong Learner As a Nurse
The Healthcare industry is continuously evolving due to the advent of new treatments and technologies. Since the nurses work on the front lines, they must stay informed and update their education to demonstrate their responsibilities effectively. You can take maximum advantages from the nursing industry’s new opportunities and roles by pursuing a nursing career with a lifelong learner perspective. Continue to enrich yourself with education courses every two years. Get a professional certification if you decide to specialize in a specific nursing area. If you wish to have an extensive and across-the-board career, having a master’s degree will qualify you as a nurse practitioner, certified nurse-midwife, clinical nurse specialist, nurse practitioner, and certified nurse anesthetist.
Step 4 – Nursing Specialty
You don’t have to choose the nursing specialty right away. After graduation and clearing the NCLEX exam, nurses can opt for some of the popular nursing specialties. In Neonatal Nursing, the nurses work with patients before and after giving birth. These nurses work in a neonatal unit. You can also get a specialty in Nurse Midwife. Your job description will be to guide patients through the process of pregnancy and delivery. Nurses working in this branch are always in high demand and very well compensated. If you plan to opt for advanced certifications and degrees, Clinical Nursing can be your best decision. You get to oversee the tasks performed by other nurses—another high in-demand specialty in Critical Care Nursing, where nurses work in trauma and critical care units.
Step 5 – Change Career Within Nursing
Nurses often opt for a career change within nursing after years of bedside care. Specializing in midwifery would be a good change after earning a master’s degree. You can opt for certifications as they require less time. However, if you enjoy guiding the nurses at work, you can switch to being a nurse educator. Several universities and colleges hire nurses to teach nursing courses. You will be required to hold a master’s or doctorate for this position. If you have the temperament of research, a Doctor of Nursing Science or Doctor of Nursing Philosophy will qualify you to excel in medical research. Your work in research can revolutionize the nursing profession.
Step 6 – Accelerating the Academic Track
If you have a finance degree but wish to pursue nursing as a career, here is good news. It is possible by all means. Many people give up on their non-nursing careers due to salary, job dissatisfaction, or other reasons; they go back to school to get a bachelor’s degree in nursing. But if you are short on money and time and not ready to invest another four years of life in school, then Accelerated Bachelors in Science of Nursing is here to help.
It helps students with bachelor’s degrees in other fields. Accelerated BSN students aren’t required to take general education courses, but they have to complete math and science prerequisites. The accelerated program focuses on nursing skills only for usually 18 months. After graduating from this program, students have to take the NCLEX-RN exam.
Nursing is financially rewarding, but it is a personally satisfying career as you get to help people. You will meet different people with different stories. Caring for people and making their lives easier is very rewarding for everyone. Whether you are switching from another career to nursing or thinking of a specialty in nursing, the career path offers ample opportunities. You will witness increasing opportunities in the next 10 to 15 years. So plan, think through the mentioned options and select what seems to fit best.
Have you considered a nursing career?
Share your thoughts and comments with us.