Nursing is one of the most important professions around the world. Without nurses, the healthcare system would not be able to provide patients with the standard of care that they currently enjoy. Whether you are currently in a career as a registered nurse or want to become a nurse in the future, one of the best things about choosing this career path is the many opportunities that you will have for progression and advancement in your line of work. Nurses have more options than most other professional careers when it comes to climbing the career ladder, and a master’s degree in nursing can lead to several opportunities both in continuing to offer bedside patient care and in administrative, leadership and educational roles. Here are some of the career opportunities that you can enjoy with an advanced nursing degree.
One of the most high-demand nursing career roles right now is the nurse practitioner. With a shortage of both nurses and primary care physicians across the US, good nurse practitioners are helping to close the gap and are acting as primary care practitioners for many patients. In many states, nurse practitioners are able to diagnose patients, prescribe medication, and refer patients for additional treatment without the need for permission from a doctor, since they have full practice authority. Nurse practitioners in these states are able to run their own clinics and healthcare facilities, and they are in particular high demand in rural areas that have been hit the hardest by the healthcare professional shortage. You will usually need a master’s degree in nursing to become a nurse practitioner, followed by a specialist nurse practitioner degree program.
Academics is an area of nursing that is in serious need of professionals. In fact, the shortage of academic nurses is one of the biggest contributors to the overall nursing shortage in the US, with colleges and nursing schools turning away tens of thousands of qualified applicants on a yearly basis simply because they do not have the teaching staff available. Online DNP leadership programs from Baylor University are a highly advanced type of nursing degree that you can use to get into nurse education. This is a highly respected career where you can make a serious difference to the field and healthcare in general by influencing the next generation of nurses.
Nurse Management and Leadership
Every team of nurses needs somebody who can lead the team and ensure that patient care is managed well. If you are the type of person who enjoys leading a team, working together with people and being responsible for big decisions, a career in nurse leadership or management could be ideal for you. From this position, you will be spending less time at the bedside of patients and instead be tasked with managing teams of nurses and other healthcare professionals, who will provide the best standards of care to their patients under your guidance. Nurse managers and leaders are essential in a wide range of healthcare settings including hospitals, doctor’s offices, research clinics and more.
The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated an acute shortage of nurses that have a specialized skill-set. And the best part about the nursing career is that no matter what your interests are when it comes to nursing, there is an option to specialize in almost any area of the healthcare profession that you want. Getting a master’s degree or another advanced nursing degree allows you to focus more heavily on the parts of nursing that you are the most interested in and enjoy the most.
Choosing Your Advanced Nursing Degree
If you are currently working as a registered nurse and want to embark on an advanced degree program to improve your career prospects and take your career in the desired direction, there are several factors to keep in mind when choosing which advanced nursing degree program to enroll on. Some of the main things to think about include:
Type of Study
Today, more and more registered nurses are deciding to study for a master’s degree online. Online degree programs are often the best choice for registered nurses who want to continue working full-time while they are improving their education. Many online nursing degrees are highly flexible and will allow you to fit your degree study around your full-time nursing job and other commitments. On the other hand, if you feel that you might benefit from attending traditional classes but want to be able to continue working full-time while you study, a blended program where you can learn both online and on-campus might be an ideal option for you.
Type of Degree
There are several options to consider if you are a registered nurse looking to get an advanced degree in nursing. A master’s degree in nursing is usually the next step up if you have got a BSN; however, there are several different types to choose from, including master’s programs that are designed to help you get into a career as a family nurse practitioner, for example, or master’s programs that specialize in a certain area of nursing so that you can take your career in a specific direction.
If you are currently working as a registered nurse, employer support is another factor that’s worth considering before you embark on an advanced nursing degree program. Whether or not your employer can offer support and assistance with things like tuition or reducing your hours to help make it easier for you to study and work at the same time can make all the difference to your experience and your success. The good news is that with the demand for advanced nurses growing rapidly, more and more employers are putting support in place for registered nurses looking to better their careers.
If you’re currently working as a registered nurse, the high demand for advanced nurses means that there has never been a better time to consider getting an advanced degree in nursing and take advantage of the opportunities available for nursing career progression.