Making the decision to pursue a career as a nurse is one that can lead to a long, fulfilling career in the world of healthcare. Nurses provide essential care and are a major part of the healthcare system as a whole. Without the dedication and hard work of nurses across the country, the healthcare system as it has come to would be unable to function properly.
This fact alone is reason enough to pursue a career in nursing. There are, however, a number of other aspects of such a path that are incredibly enticing to many aspiring healthcare professionals.
Not only is there a great deal of job security for nurses, a fact that shows no signs of changing any time soon, but the earning potential available to nurses is certainly a point in favor of such a career. This is particularly true for nurses who wish to go beyond the job of a registered nurse (RN) working in the traditional role.
In fact, there are a variety of career path options available to nurses today who are looking to either specialize in a specific area of medicine or even pursue leadership opportunities in the world of healthcare. Nurses who are just starting out in their careers fresh out of nursing school certainly have plenty of options to consider when it comes to their futures.
If you are currently working as an RN and are looking to explore the sort of options that are available to you for the future of your career, it is good to explore the different types of fields in which a nurse can work. Here are seven different types of roles that a nurse can pursue for you to consider as you look to make definitive decisions regarding your own career progression.
1. Family Nurse Practitioner
One role in nursing that is quickly growing in popularity for nurses across the country is that of the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP). This is a job that a nurse can pursue once they have earned at least a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. That being said, there has been a concerted push within the medical community to require FNPs to possess a minimum of a doctorate degree to practice.
The reasons behind this involve the type of work that an FNP does. Essentially, such nurses can practice without having to be under the direct supervision of a physician. FNPs are even granted license to prescribe medications, evaluate patients, and diagnose conditions in some cases.
This is all possible in this day and age due to the growing shortage of qualified physicians across the country. Without enough physicians to cater to an ever-aging population, FNPs step in to fill vital roles in healthcare.
While the path to becoming an FNP is a long and difficult one, it is entirely possible if this is something you are interested in for your own career. With options like an online degree program from Marymount University and flexible course scheduling, you can find yourself working as a fully qualified FNP before you know it.
2. Nurse Midwife
When it comes to pregnancy and healthcare, the norm in the United States has for the longest time been for expectant mothers to seek out their medical care from an OB-GYN. However, recent decades have seen a bit of a shift in this regard as more and more mothers are preferring the more holistic approach to prenatal healthcare, labor, and delivery offered by nurse-midwives.
The job of a nurse-midwife is to oversee the healthcare of an expectant mother and her baby, assist with the labor and delivery process, and ensure that both mother and baby are off to a healthy start after birth. As an advanced practice nurse, a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) can assume this role independently or as part of a birthing team that includes a physician.
To become a CNM, you will need to earn a BSN followed by an advanced degree in nurse-midwifery. You must then obtain the proper certification from the American Midwifery Certification Board.
One aspect of this nursing role that many find appealing is the projected job outlook. As more and more mothers prefer to have their prenatal healthcare overseen by a CNM, it is expected that there will be approximately 45% growth in this area of healthcare by 2030.
3. Critical Care Nurse
If you enjoy your role as an RN but are looking to specialize more in emergency care, then you might consider pursuing a career as a critical care nurse. This is a job that is similar to that of an RN, with the Exception that critical care nurses solely deal with patients in need of immediate emergency care.
As a critical care nurse, your job would be to tend to the wounds and injuries of those who have been in serious accidents. You might work in an emergency room in a hospital or at a certain type of outpatient clinic.
There is also a growing need for this type of nurse in the field of healthcare. It is expected that the job outlook for critical care nurses will increase by 16% at least over the next several years. With earning potential that is a bit higher in most places than that of an RN, using your skills as a nurse to work in the critical care setting could prove to be an ideal move in certain situations.
To become a critical care nurse, it is not required that you obtain any advanced degrees. You can pursue this career path if you hold an associate degree in nursing or a BSN. You would simply need to acquire any appropriate training for the job so that you would be equipped to treat patients in the critical care setting.
4. Geriatric Nurse
One area of nursing that possesses some of the highest growth outlooks of all is that of geriatric nursing. Geriatric nurses administer health care to older and elderly patients either in a hospital setting, a nursing home, or some other type of clinical setting.
The fact of the matter is that a significant portion of the population is expected to reach retirement age and older over the course of the next decade. In addition, it is commonly known that an individual’s medical and healthcare needs increase as they get older. Both of these facts together mean that there will be an abundance of job opportunities for qualified geriatric nurses across the country.
Ultimately, the job of a geriatric nurse is a difficult and often emotionally charged one. However, it can be incredibly fulfilling and provide you with a sense of job security that other areas of healthcare simply cannot match.
To become a qualified geriatric nurse, you will first need to obtain your RN license after completing either an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree. After completing the appropriate training and certification, you will then have the ability to practice as a fully qualified geriatric nurse in a variety of healthcare settings.
5. Certified Nurse Anesthetist
As far as earning potential for nurses is concerned, the nursing role that tends to generate the highest income of all is that of the certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA). As a CRNA, you have the potential to earn upwards of $220,000 in some regions. While the median national salary of a CRNA currently stands at $190,000, some states offer a much higher average.
It should be noted, however, that the role of a CRNA is not one that should be pursued solely for the purpose of earning the most money. On the contrary, the job itself is incredibly demanding and specialized, and CRNAs definitely earn their worth.
The job of a CRNA entails administering anesthesia of varying kinds to patients who are about to undergo surgery or other clinical procedures. Because there are so many risks associated with anesthesia, a CRNA must be fully educated on all aspects of this sort of work.
Everything from proper dosage to potential warning signs of an allergic reaction must be seen to with each and every patient. A CRNA must not only prep patients for their anesthesia, but they also oversee aspects of post-operative care that pertain to anesthesia.
Because this work is so important in the healthcare setting and because so much can go wrong, a nurse wishing to become a CRNA will need to become an advanced practice nurse. This means that to obtain proper licensing as a CRNA, you must earn at least an MSN in this area and gain applicable experience in the field.
6. Mental Health Nurse
The field of mental health is one that has seen a great deal of much-deserved attention in recent decades. As a result, more and more research and clinical studies are being done on the subject of mental health as new information comes to light regarding the nature of this aspect of healthcare.
As a mental health nurse, you would work with patients suffering from a variety of mental health conditions. From stress and anxiety to clinical depression, there are a number of ways in which people are suffering regarding their mental health. Mental health nurses assist physicians with treating these and other mental health conditions.
It is becoming more socially accepted for people to seek out professional help for their mental health issues in this day and age. Because of this positive development in the way in which society views mental health, there are plenty of opportunities for fully qualified mental health nurses.
Mental health nurses must possess a BSN degree and an MSN degree in mental health. With the relevant type of experience in the right degrees, you can find yourself working in a field that is only developing, and that can make a significant difference in the lives of patients everywhere.
7. Nurse Educator
One nursing role that is rather unique regarding the manner in which your knowledge and experience as a nurse is put to use is that of a nurse educator. Therefore, there is always a need for experienced and qualified nurse educators to help mold the next generation of nurses.
Becoming a nurse educator is a great way to make even more use out of your years spent in the field. Furthermore, those looking to make a full-time career out of being a nurse educator stand to earn a decent income and assume prestigious positions at nursing schools across the country.
That being said, there is more than one option to consider if you are interested in helping to educate the nurses of tomorrow. For example, you might wish to work part-time teaching courses to nurses earning their two-year associate degree, or you might seek full-time employment at a four-year nursing school.
If you have built a career as a nurse in a particular specialization, you might even earn a master’s degree in education to seek a position at a higher institution level. In addition, you could potentially instruct other nurses who are looking to earn a master’s degree or even a doctoral degree.
Essentially, your experience and level of education should be proportionate to the level at which you wish to teach as a nurse educator. This career path can serve as an incredibly rewarding way to utilize your skills and knowledge as a nurse.
At the end of the day, there are even more options to consider when you are looking to find your specific path in the field of nursing. Nurses play vital roles throughout all levels of healthcare, and there are always positions available for qualified, passionate, and dedicated nurses looking to assume these various roles.
With the right level of education, and continually working on your professional skills, all the nursing opportunities that you could ever want in your career will be open to you. So take your time and give every opportunity that you are given a chance, even if it is not what you want to do – at least you’ve tried it.