A career as a nurse is one of the most rewarding professions in the world! When considering this crucial field, it will take tremendous effort. It always pays to know what you are getting into, as earning an online graduate degree in the field of nursing can be difficult and time consuming.
This navigational guide can be a valuable resource for you to learn what nursing is all about, including the degree choices, possible career outlook, salary and statistics. There will be a discussion on the best schools that offer nursing degree programs and the specializations that you can take to further your education.
Knowing this information will help you succeed on your career path and find the fulfillment you have been looking for. After all, nursing as a job requires effort, commitment, and compassion. To fulfill your role, understanding this profession is imperative.
Nursing as a Degree
As an integral part of a patient’s health care journey, nursing is a highly specialized profession that evolves as our society’s needs change. Nurses are indispensable when it comes to safeguarding public health. Many describe it as a fusion between art and science, mainly because it requires the use of both heart and mind.
To be a nurse, one needs to be prepared for the often exhausting and complicated job of taking care of ill or injured persons and provide preventative health care to healthy people. They serve as frontline members of the health care delivery team, helping to save and improve lives.
In the U.S., nursing is one of the most trusted professions. According to statistics, they represent 3.9 million of the workforce. The employment for registered nurses is expected to grow faster than any other occupation, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found. Nursing is recorded among the top occupations in terms of job growth through 2026.
The qualifications to be a nurse can vary in many cases, but it usually involves studying for the course. It can be as short as attending a 1-year certificate program to earning a Ph.D., primarily depending on the specialization, which we will be discussing further.
If you are the type of person who has a strong science foundation and have an interest in coordinating care, developing relationships, leading change, and thinking about everything that has to do with maintaining and improving health, then you will find a nursing degree the most suitable as your college educational choice.
Before you proceed, you need to determine whether you have what it takes to tackle the field of nursing. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you have high ability in the sciences?
- Are you looking for a hands-on career and educational experience?
- Are you prepared to take on a career with high patient contact?
- Do you like teaching and being with people who are coping with health problems?
The field of nursing is primarily under the health care industry. This will allow you to work in a variety of settings, from hospitals and public health to school and administrative posts. Some nurses are also doing research and informatics.
While many are concerned about the academic portion of earning a nursing degree, it is quite surprising, not to mention encouraging, to find that the student-retention rate in many nursing programs is high. One study puts the percentage of students enrolled in bachelor’s-level nursing programs at 90%, which means that those who enroll to become registered nurses typically stay in school and push through against all the odds.
Nursing schools usually offer courses that can prepare aspiring students to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. Some of the coursework includes cell biology, clinical nursing skills, genetics, microbiology, nutrition, psychology, public health nursing, among other topics. Often broad and rigorous, nursing degree programs have a foundation in liberal arts, science, and an extensive range of nursing courses.
An ideal nursing school will offer not only an outstanding accredited curriculum taught by experienced faculty, but will also provide an excellent learning environment.
Types of Nursing Degrees
Most nursing degrees, whether at the certificate, associates, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate level, lead to opportunities of becoming a registered nurse. The degrees vary in difficulty, qualifications, and requirements. It is advisable for students to decide which programs will best suit their needs and goals before enrolling. Some programs can serve as the gateway to their nursing career. Others provide the steps for further education and more specialized training that can advance their career and provide higher salaries.
LPN or LVN Education Degree
If you want the quickest path to a nursing career, then taking degree programs for licensed practical nursing (LPN) or licensed vocation nursing (LVN) is the best choice. They can usually be completed within a year. This is especially useful for those who want a change of career and get into nursing. Often, students have work and other obligations which makes it hard for them to enroll in lengthier and more difficult degree programs. LPN and LVN programs are fast-paced, allowing students to learn the necessary skills and knowledge for a nursing job. Those who complete these programs are also eligible for licensure after they pass the state-administered nursing exam, the NCLEX-PN.
Associate Degree Programs
Associate degrees in nursing are some of the most popular options for those who want to be registered nurses. Also, they can take on entry-level staff nurse positions which offer more hands-on experience in the medical field. Many associate degree programs can be completed within two years. They are often offered in community colleges or vocational schools. Often, night and weekend courses are available; therefore, it is a viable option for those who are already working or are busy taking care of their family.
The typical courses for these degree programs include anatomy, microbiology, chemistry, nutrition, psychology, and many more.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
Most nursing facilities and centers prefer to hire students with BSN degrees. It generally provides the best opportunities in today’s current job market; however, there is a small catch. A bachelor of science in nursing can be more complex than lower level nursing degrees. For example, it usually takes four years to finish. The coursework is also more extensive and complicated, meaning you need to devote more time and effort to juggle the demands of classroom discussions and lab requirements. Its rewards are numerous though, including a higher chance of entering professional nursing practice and earning a higher degree. It is a prerequisite of most master’s degree programs in nursing.
Some of the core courses for a BSN degree include bioethics, fundamentals of microbiology, nursing research, and public health nursing, among many others.
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
If you need more specialized knowledge and skills, you must earn a master of science in nursing degree. It can be advanced clinical training or research. This program takes less time than a BSN degree, but it is more rigorous because of its advanced nature. Students have a narrower focus. Most master’s programs also require a thesis or project. Earning a MSN can help you move to the next level in your nursing career, in addition to, the rewards of reaping monetary benefits with higher salaries.
Doctorate Nursing Degree Programs
The highest level of education with a clinical focus that you can earn is the doctorate in nursing. This will lead to a career in advanced practice nursing. It has a great appeal for those who want to be qualified for health administration positions like that of a nursing executive. Those who aim to advance into clinical research and advanced clinical practice can also make use of this doctorate. Most doctoral degrees in nursing programs take four to six years to complete; therefore, if you are planning to earn this degree, you will need to be prepared for a demanding workload and extensive training. You will need plenty of determination and commitment.
Doctorate in nursing programs are usually paired up with nurse practitioner specialties like acute care, adult care, cardiology, dermatology, gerontology, nephrology, oncology, orthopedics, and pediatric care. They all require additional coursework and clinical hours for certification eligibility.
Although they are generally referred to as nurses, there are many layers to this occupation. Specializations allow you to focus on a particular type of nursing for a more meaningful career. Many nurses who have been in the profession for several years or more have gained considerable experiences that can refine their practice. Eventually, the thought of narrowing their skills to a specific aspect of nursing will cross their minds. Some take up certifications to demonstrate their experience and knowledge of a particular area of nursing.
The number one reason why specialization appeals to most nurses is the chance to hone their expertise. When they become certified in their chosen specialty, they can get promotions, receive higher compensations, and acquire greater responsibilities. To accomplish this, they will need to meet specific credentials, including education, experience, and exam criteria.
Many specializations in the field of nursing can be earned in several ways. Some registered nurses do not have to pursue an advanced practice degree. Instead, they can forge their career path through the American Nurses Credentialing Center. This is true in the case of medical-surgical nurses who are required to pass the certification by making sure that they can manage a patient on the medical-surgical unit, requiring them 2,000 hours of active nursing in the said specialty during the period of the last three years.
There are also four specialties for advanced practice nurses as recognized by the Advanced Practice Nurse Consensus Model. It includes nurse anesthetist, nurse-midwife, clinical nurse specialist, and nurse practitioner.
Certified Post Anesthesia Nurse
This area of specialization requires nurses to master the caring of patients who have undergone surgery or other procedures that need the use of anesthesia. They must meet the psychological, behavioral, safety, and advocacy needs of patients who are still under the influence of anesthesia or who might still be dealing with its after effects.
Their duties include working with patients after surgery and treating the side effects of anesthesia. They must be able to work with ventilators, multi-drug drips, and other instruments that stay with patients who just got out of the operating room. While recovering from anesthesia, these patients are usually unstable and may fall ill easily.
Post-anesthesia nurses must display excellent assessment skills to deal with a patient’s changing status quickly and efficiently.
Advanced Public Health Nurse
This type of nursing practice employs a holistic view of health and wellness. It requires them to examine the way the segments of society interact with a health system, assess how individuals function in that health care framework and develop opportunities to improve care on a large scale. They mostly focus on the preventative side of medicine, including actions like disease screening campaigns and immunization administration to at-risk populations.
These type of nurses usually work in health departments, health insurance companies, and even home health agencies. The goal is to ensure the maintenance and care of the health of a large population. Their duties also include writing grants and determining policy.
Cardiac Nurse Practitioner
For those who want to be cardiac-vascular nurse practitioners, their responsibilities range from conducting cardiovascular assessments, working with physicians, and providing health education to patients and families. The evaluations include appraising patients for acute and chronic illness and managing those illnesses with medications and other treatments. The monitoring of results also falls under their responsibility.
The patient population that cardio-vascular nurses deal with include those who experience high cholesterol, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and arrhythmias. This type of nursing can be in a variety of settings, from private practice cardiology clinics to acute-care hospitals.
Gastroenterology Registered Nurse
Those who want to specialize in caring for patients with gastrointestinal diseases can become a certified gastroenterology nurse. Their duties include taking patient histories, telephone triage, patient education, and maintenance of tools used for procedures. They are responsible for the caring of patients undergoing endoscopy or colonoscopy. They will assess and prepare patients for the procedure, administer medication before the treatment, and monitor the patient’s vital signs while the process is in progress. It is also their job to check the patient’s condition and assess if there are side effects after the procedure.
Another specialization that you can consider is the discipline within health informatics. Informatics nurses are responsible for assisting with the implementation of computer applications in hospitals, nursing homes, doctor offices, and other healthcare settings. They are also assigned to analyze and interpret data regarding patients, nurses, and information systems that can help improve nursing services. They will use computer and information technology tools to design, develop, select, test, and implement informatics solutions and data structures.
Because the amount of data collected during nursing practices has continuously increased over the last few years, the demand for informatics courses is also growing.
With the freedom to work in a variety of venues, medical-surgical nurses usually take care of a high load of patients, coordinating their attention throughout the day. Their tasks include assessment, time management, documentation, and careful care planning. They must juggle multiple responsibilities; whether they work in hospitals, clinics, home health care agencies, HMOs, ambulatory care units, surgical centers, or universities.
Nurses who want to specialize in neuroscience must be prepared to take care of patients who suffer from issues stemming from the brain, spinal cord, and other parts of the nervous system. They are the ones who assess, treat, and monitor patients in hospitals, clinics, and even in physician offices. Their patients range from those who suffer from stroke, traumatic brain injuries, intracranial bleeding, paraplegia, quadriplegia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and dementia.
Their primary job is to meet the physiological, behavioral, cognitive, and safety needs of patients. They will administer tests and medicine and monitor neurological activity as well as oversee post-operative recovery and keep accurate patient records.
Oncology Nurse Practitioner
Working closely with physicians, surgeons, and palliative caregivers, oncology nurses care for cancer patients and help them through all the treatment stages. They are responsible for prescribing medications and treatments and making diagnoses. They are also expected to offer psychosocial support for patients and their families. Some oncology nurses offer preventative care and educational programs on cancer.
Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner
Patients with musculoskeletal conditions are cared for by orthopedic nurse practitioners. Their duties include prescribing medications for the pain of a broken bone and analyzing x-rays of hip replacement. They are also expected to conduct physical exams, take their detailed histories, prescribe tests and treatments, and analyze them. They work with physicians and nursing staff to coordinate a patient’s care, overseeing their needs from the time of injury to discharge.
Online vs. Brick and Mortar Nursing Degrees
Traditionally, nursing degrees are earned in brick-and-mortar schools where theoretical and practical knowledge is taught. With the advent of technology and the internet, it has become easier for students who want to become nurses to achieve their dream career. There are now schools that offer degree programs online. The choice, ultimately, lies on the needs of the student and their circumstances.
Most bachelor of nursing degrees require clinical skills essential for effective delivery of patient care, which means they cannot be taken entirely online. You can expect to attend lab practicums, nursing simulations, and clinical rotations, which will require your physical presence.
Before choosing which one will suit you best, it is essential to consider several factors: previous education and experience, age, finances, salary, and location. It also enables you to take note of the school’s accreditations from the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
Brick-and-Mortar Nursing Programs
The traditional path to earning a BSN is designed for students who may and may not have received the degree beforehand. Most of them are offered full-time and includes classroom education, clinical simulation, and clinical practice as part of the curriculum. Interested students must submit their application form and other requirements before the stated deadline.
Earning a nursing degree is most suitable for students who can devote their time to studying, although online programs allow students the opportunity to balance several responsibilities while completing their nursing education. Once students have completed the degree, they are expected to achieve the following outcomes:
- Display novice, professional nursing leadership qualities integral in promoting quality and safe care,
- Engage in effective communication and collaboration across interdisciplinary teams in a variety of contexts. Nurses, after all, work with different physicians, surgeons, and nursing staff,
- Provide socially just, ethical, and inclusive care to diverse populations across the continuum of care,
- Reference relevant theoretical frameworks to help improve patient and population health outcomes in different settings.
Online Nursing Programs
Most online nursing programs are in a hybrid format. The non-clinical portion of nursing coursework can be completed online, while clinical requirements are arranged at a medical facility, usually within a close distance to your home.
Online learning is hosted on a school’s website where the instructors can post their lecture materials and assignments. There are often bulletin boards and a discussion forum where students can post comments and ask questions. Some online programs have a designated time for a nursing degree chat session, depending on the instructor. Students are generally given ample freedom to log in and work at their own time and pace, which makes an online degree in nursing valuable for those who need to juggle their job and education. While many online classes offer written coursework instead of traditional examinations, there are also cases where proctored tests are offered online.
There are online degrees that oblige students to spend a few days or weeks on campus, but many do not require residency.
Financing Your Nursing Education
Tertiary education is usually expensive, including nursing degree program. Costs can be exorbitant; from tuition to books.
For traditional LPN/LVN training, the tuition and other expenses can range from $5,000 to $25,000 for public college and can reach as much as $40,000 for private schools throughout the program. Associate degree programs are around $6,000 to $40,000 for public schools and $30,000 to $100,000 for private institutions.
BSN courses are even more expensive, with tuition fees and other expenses costing from $40,000 to $200,000.
Tuitions for online nursing degrees are often calculated per credit. The average is between $50 to $1,639. The credit units differ between the type of degree programs and schools. Most states give discounts to students who reside within the state.
Looking at the figures can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there are ways to finance your nursing education without giving up in despair.
A great way to fund your education, scholarships provide debt-free financing. Some are even generous enough to cover the cost of books and leave some for housing. They can vary, however, and will suit different needs.
Some are designed for specific ethnicities, genders, or even the varying levels of financial needs. For example, some scholarships can only apply to male students, like Alexander Graham Bell Foundation College Scholarship Award and The American Assembly for Men in Nursing Foundation Scholarships for Men. Other scholarships are geared towards African American nursing students alone, such as the Barbara Rhomberg Excellence in Nursing Scholarship and NBNA Scholarship Programs.
Scholarships can also differ from state to state and even from colleges to universities.
The government offers financial assistance to students who cannot afford to send themselves to school. The FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid program is designed to financially assist students who need loans to attend college. Unlike scholarships, however, financial aid loans need to be repaid, including the interest. The packages can also differ, depending on how much you can pay and how much assistance you need.
There are available grants for students in particular schools. Always check with your school for such aids that can meet your financial needs. You need to send an application if you are eligible. Still, they may not cover the full tuition cost, but they can significantly cut down the upfront fee requirement.
Nursing Career Pathways, Information, and Outlook
A versatile field, nursing offers a wealth of career paths for students who have earned their degree. Some nurses are directly involved with the patients, performing clinical procedures like administering medications, starting IV lines, and caring for wounds. They can also act as patient care coordinators, educators, and advocates. Many nurses take on specializations in the later stages of their career, as this can present more opportunities to improve their positions and compensations.
Their specialty drives the tasks they perform. Licensed practical nurses, for example, provide primary care. Their responsibilities might include feeding or bathing patients, monitoring their vitals, and checking and applying bandages. Registered nurses, on the other hand, serves the function of patient care. They closely work with physicians and communicate with the patients and their families. They can also go on to become specialized nurses, in the field of oncology, geriatrics, neurology, and other critical health disciplines.
Although their work settings are usually in hospitals, nurses can also serve in schools, private clinics, nursing homes, placement agencies, prisons, companies, and even military bases. Most nurses spend a lot of time on their feet and can sometimes cover long working hours, especially if they are working in hospitals where they need to provide around-the-clock care. They can even work on long weekends and holidays. The usual shift for many nurses can range from 10 to 12 hours a day, three to four days a week.
Some of the most in-demand nurses are nurse midwives, travel nurses, case management nurses, forensic nurses, informatics nurse specialists, and nurse anesthetics.
Informatics nurses can receive a median salary of $82,710 annually. Nurse midwives, on the other hand, can receive as much as $96,970 per year. In terms of the places where they are employed, nurses who work in the government earn $75,000 a year, while those who choose to serve in hospitals have an annual median salary of $73,070 annually.
Salary can also differ depending on the state in which your are employed. Nurses in California enjoy the highest pay rate with the annual salary of $102,700. Also, California employs the most nurses with 282,290 in employment.
As of 2016, there were 2,955,200 registered nurses in the U.S. with a median annual salary of $71,730.
10 Common Nurse Occupations
General Nurse Practitioner
Salary: $113,930 per year
Education Requirement: Aspiring Nurse Practitioners must first earn a bachelor’s degree in Nursing or a similar program. Entering an undergraduate program after high school is the best route into becoming a nurse practitioner but some nurses with an RN credential complete an RN-BSN bridge program to earn their baccalaureate degree. Students then, earn their license by passing an exam known as the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is must then be completed. These post-graduate studies typically require students to participate in clinical rotations that last 700-800 hours. After earning post-graduate degree, a certification must then be obtained.
Candidates with non-BSN degree may take a BSN-to-MSN fast track program where intensive coursework and clinical experience are completed in a year. Then, the student moves on MSN completing the usual 1-3 years.
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
Salary: $113,930 per year
Education Requirement: The first step into becoming a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) is to earn an RN credential (from NCLEX-RN). This is possible after completing either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Prospective CRNA must have finished a year of working in an acute care setting and proceed to Critical Care Registered Nurse certification as this is encouraged by most of nursing schools and institutions. You can then earn a Master’s degree in Nurse Anesthesia. The Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COACRNA) provides a complete list of approved and accredited schools for Nurse Anesthesia programs. After completing such program, candidates must pass the National Certification Examination (NCE) from the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA). Finally, nurse anesthetists must recertify every two years.
Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)
Salary: $117,292 per year
Education Requirement: To become a psychiatric nurse practitioner, one must obtain a master’s degree in nursing, as an RN. Some schools require a few years of clinical experience before enrolling but some schools allow students to work during the program. Clinical experience in mental health institutions is a plus. You will then have to work supervised clinical practice before qualifying for certifications. Certifications are not required but are highly recommended. You can earn them from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).
Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
Salary: $113,930 per year
Education Requirement: This occupation requires a master’s degree in Nursing with a specialization Nurse Midwifery. Registered nurses are eligible to pursue an MSN. Before entering into the nurse midwifery program, candidates have to confirm accreditation o such program with the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME). After earning the degree, graduates become eligible for the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) exam.
Salary: $74,973 per year
Education Requirement: Requirements are subject to the state employment. Some school nurses hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing and are registered nurses. Most schools require school nurses to have a few years of clinical experience as this helps nurses in critical decision making and in acquiring knowledge needed to work independently. Some states may also require a master’s degree. Depending on the school, a school nurse may need to obtain certification prior to employment or once hired. The National Board for Certification of School Nurses (NBCSN) provides this certification.
Critical Care Nurse
Salary: $69,270 per year
Education Requirement: Education requirements may be a diploma, an associate’s, or bachelor’s degree in Nursing program. You also need to be a registered nurse in order to work in the Critical Care Unit (CCU). While certification or licensing requirement varies by state or may not be required, it gives you additional learning opportunity and helps you advance your career. This is available through the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN).
ER – Nurse
Salary: $74,973 per year
Education Requirement: Education requirements for Emergency Room Nurse is similar to other RN occupations. Candidates may complete a three-year diploma, a two-yea associate’s degree or a four-year bachelor’s degree in nursing program from an accredited school or institution. Licensure from NCLEX is necessary. A certification is not required but registered nurses may take it to enhance employment opportunities. You may obtain your certification from The Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN).
Renal Dialysis Unit – Staff Nurse
Salary: $69,270 per year
Education Requirement: The first step to becoming a Renal Dialysis Unit Nurse is to earn either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. After earning the degree, you should be certified by passing the NCEX-RN. Certification require would depend on the state. Registered nurses must complete at least 2,000 hours of clinical experience in nephrology nursing to be qualified for the Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission’s certified dialysis nurse exam.
Salary: $70,952 per year
Education Requirement: The minimum requirement for getting a job as a Charge Nurse is earning an RN licensure. This is possible after completing a diploma, an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in Nursing. RNs typically need 3-5 years of experience before they take the Charge Nurse position. Certifications may be needed for those charge nurses assigned in specialty areas.
Salary: $69,270 per year
Education Requirement: Although an associate’s degree in nursing is the basic requirement, having a bachelor’s degree in nursing has become increasingly important. Students must pass the NCLEX-RN exam before they can choose a specialization in Surgical Nursing. Aspiring Medical-Surgical Nurses must have 2 years of supervised experience preferably in an intensive care unit or recovery room.
30 Highest Paying Nursing Careers
Chief Nurse Anesthetists
The primary role of chief nurse anesthetists is to lead a team of nurses in charge of administering sedation to patients for surgical procedure. They have to manage as to which nurse anesthetist has to plan, arrange and secure the needed anesthesia and medical equipment. They may work in collaboration with other physicians, but they mostly are under the supervision of an Anesthesiologist. Preparing reports and compiling data pertaining to specific anesthesia, drugs, methods and patients reactions to them are also parts of his/her responsibilities. They have to ensure that their staff follows all protocols and procedures with a strict compliance with hospital or the healthcare facility. Together with their supervisory Anesthesiologist, they must be up to date and must follow government regulations and practices.
Chief Nurse Anesthetist Salary: $163,746 per year
ER – Head Nurses
Emergency head nurses oversees and supervises their designated ER staff and team by providing performance management, coaching, and performance recognition, assigning workload, and ensuring safe work practices, continuous communication and performance evaluation are well conducted according to the hospital policy. They have to oversee the overall high standard of care is provided to the patients by the ER staff. They must maintain appropriate infection control practices and provide a safe environment for patients and staff. Developing and implementing short- and long-term planning, unit policies and standards of nursing care are important duties they have as a leader. Most ER Head Nurses work on-call for 24 hour-shifts.
ER – Head Nurse Salary: $118,069 per year
Neonatal – Nurse Practitioners
Neonatal Nurse Practitioners are advanced practice nurse who are trained to work in acute and non-acute settings providing care for healthy, premature and sick newborns. Most of them are found working in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU). This means supervising and assisting with the treatment and delivery of infants. They address infant’s health issues and complications due to premature birth, genetic disorders, HIV infection, drug addictions and other abnormalities. Neonatal NPs design treatment plans and monitor specialized equipment for infants. They may also prescribe medications, conduct neonatal resuscitation and perform laboratory tests. Their job puts a great impact in lowering the percentage of morbidity and mortality rates of infants.
Neonatal – Nurse Practitioner Salary: $117,292 per year
Acute Care – Nurse Practitioners
Acute Care Nurse Practitioners work with advanced nursing practices with a specialization in caring for patients who are acutely ill or with brief but severe illnesses or injuries. They treat and diagnose medical conditions, order treatments and medications working in collaboration with physicians. They also manage and care for pre- and post- operative patients. Some acute care nurse practitioners open their own clinics and serve as primary health care providers. Acute care nurse practitioners are usually found in hospitals, doctor’s offices, nursing homes, operating rooms and emergency rooms.
Acute Care – Nurse Practitioner Salary: $117,292 per year
ER – Nurse Practitioners
Like any other nurse practitioners, Emergency Room Nurse Practitioners work with advanced nursing practice. They work in collaboration with physicians in busy emergency rooms or urgent care facilities. This fast-paced job involves paying immediate attention to the primary care of acutely ill or injured patients. They may order, interpret, and record results of clinical tests necessary to physician’s assessment/ documentation. They may also treat non-emergency medical conditions, perform procedures and make recommendations to therapeutic types of treatment. They are also advocates, researchers, consultants and educators engaged in public health emergency preparedness.
ER – Nurse Practitioner Salary: $117,292 per year
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners are advanced-practice nurses working to provide comprehensive mental health care and management to patients with psychiatric disorders, of all ages. They assess, diagnose, provide psychotherapy and prescribe medications. Utilizing theoretical, scientific and clinical knowledge is the key to becoming an effective Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. Their responsibility of diagnosing mental illness includes other measures like recording patient’s verbal history and performing physical and diagnostic tests. Treatment plan, prescription of medication, and administering psychotherapy then follow. They either treat patients individually or in group settings. Working environment includes private offices and clinics, residential treatment facilities, correctional facilities, and public health agencies. They may or may not be supervised by a physician.
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Salary: $117,292 per year
Certified Nurse Anesthetists
Certified nurse anesthetists are registered nurses with advanced practice of nursing who administer anesthesia and provide related care to patients in surgical, obstetrical and trauma care procedures. They also monitor patients throughout the surgery and in their recovery. They are tasked to ensure proper sedation, pain management, and patient recovery are well executed in collaboration with doctors and other health care providers. Since this involves a great risk to patient’s safety, extensive education and training are required. Other responsibilities include completing physical assessment of patient, requesting consultations, facilitating emergence from anesthesia, performing discharge services and conducting post-anesthesia evaluations.
Certified Nurse Anesthetist Salary: $113,930 per year
General Nurse Practitioner
General nurse practitioners are registered nurses with advanced training in nursing. They may be assigned to a specialized population of patients like children, adults, or elderly focusing on primary care. Primary care means providing general and preventative care, conducting check-ups, ordering lab tests, and treating illnesses. They perform all aspects of care including diagnosis, treatments and consultations. Duties include but are not limited to recording patient medical histories, administering diagnostic tests, educating and counseling patients and their family members about preventive health maintenance. These are all part of the holistic care of the nursing practice.
General Nurse Practitioner Salary: $113,930 per year
Certified Nurse Midwives
In addition to providing complete prenatal and post-natal care, Certified Nurse Midwives provide care and assistance to women from adolescence through the end of life. Their primary responsibility is to work closely with obstetricians and gynecologists in assisting women in all stages of pregnancy, childbirth and post-delivery. They perform gynecological and breast exams on patients, assist with births at hospitals, birthing centers, and home deliveries. They must be aware of any birth problems and reproduction issues as well. Ensuring a safe delivery and avoiding a caesarian section (or provide safe transport to surgical team) is the primary goal of certified nurse midwives. The only difference between certified midwives and certified nurse midwives is that certified midwives do not have the nursing background required by some hospitals and healthcare facilities. Certified Nurse Midwives may also work with male patients with reproductive health issues or sexually transmitted diseases.
Certified Nurse Midwife Salary: $113,930 per year
Obstetrics Head Nurses
Obstetrics Head Nurses develop, implement and evaluate nursing activities in the delivery room and birthing units. They have to delegate tasks and responsibilities to auxiliary and obstetrics staff nurses, oversee the preparation and maintenance of patient records, and ensure delivery of quality nursing care is provided to the patients and families. They are also in charge with inventory standards, supplies, medicine and equipment. Written reports and evaluation on obstetrics staff performance submitted to top management are also part of their responsibilities. This is a first level management of daily operations in the department. This position requires an extensive amount of experience in the related area.
Obstetrics – Head Nurse Salary: $99,910 per year
Home Health/ Home Care Nurse Practitioners
Another specialization as a nurse practitioner is the home health or home care nurse practitioner. They serve and provide primary health care to chronically ill patients in the home setting. They conduct assessment, diagnose a wide array of illnesses, disabilities and injuries, and order and provide treatment. They may also check bedridden patients and assess them for bed sores or muscle weakness. Patient education, referrals to community resources and coordination of services for the homebound are some of the other roles of home health nurse practitioners. The vast majority of home health nurse practitioners deal with adult or family nursing care. However, children diagnosed with cancer or serious illnesses often need home health care, so pediatric nurse practitioners perform home health care for them as well.
Home Health/ Home Care – Nurse Practitioner Salary: $92,267 per year
Clinical Research Nurses
Clinical Research Nurses play a vital role in new discoveries and breakthrough medical treatments in patient care. Their goal is to help patients live longer by studying diseases and disorders, and developing new treatment plans. They are tasked to compile, review and assess clinical data, screen and recruit subjects, and collaborate with consultants on the clinical project. Excellent communication skills are a must in being able to work with scientists, consultants, physicians, researchers and patients. These registered nurses must possess knowledge in medical and scientific terminology and are expected to have 1-2 years of clinical experience.
Clinical Research – Nurse Salary: $88,771 per year
Director of Nursing Education
The Director of Nursing Education is responsible for directing and designing administrative and instructional activities in the Nurse Education program. His/her responsibility extends to students, faculty, and the college administration. Their duties include management of department budget, overall education policies and procedures, maintenance and development of the program and program accreditations. He/she has to report to the top management on strategic decisions, collaborates with the Dean of Nurse Education in solving escalated issues in the department. Additionally, the Director of Nursing has to mentor staff and be an active member of regional and national organizations.
Director – Nursing Education Salary: $87,540 per year
Director of Nursing/ Nursing Director
The Director of Nursing has the authority, responsibility and accountability of organizing nursing operations and overseeing the nursing personnel. They are registered nurses who have the managerial capability. Some of his/her duties include supervising nursing staff, monitoring the department budgets, developing long- and short-term goals for the nursing department, coordinating with other medical staff and departments in maintaining hospital efficiency, and proactively developing employee relations and recognition programs. The Director of Nurse must possess the knowledge of current federal and state laws and regulations related to the nursing practice. He/she typically works inside an office daily and at times work overtime or on an “on-call” basis.
Director of Nursing Salary: $85,079 per year
ICU- Head Nurses
Intensive Care Unit Head Nurses direct and supervise nursing service activities for intensive care unit patients. They have to delegate tasks and responsibilities to auxiliary and intensive care unit staff nurses. They should properly orient staff about their roles and performance measures, collaborate with other supervisors and administration in promoting optimal quality of nursing care, maintains up-to-date records of drugs and other supplies, assess levels of performance of all staff in the unit and submit reports to the top management. ICU head nurses must possess a variety of skills to deal and cope with the fast-paced nature of their job.
ICU- Head Nurse Salary: $83,771 per year
Clinical Nursing Instructors
Clinical nursing instructors are also known as nurse educators. They teach patient care in classrooms, laboratories, and other clinical demonstration settings. Some of their responsibilities include planning, development and instruction of nursing courses. They must train students by delivering lectures, preparing course syllabi and handouts, organize student conferences and assignments. They also have to ensure that students are in compliance to all academic course programs. The need to collaborate with other colleagues help them revise and evaluate teaching contents and research issues. Participation in campus events, performing administrative duties, and providing professional consulting services to the government or any related industry are also part of the responsibilities of clinical nursing instructors.
Clinical Nursing Instructor Salary: $83,771 per year
ER – Nurses
Emergency Room Nurses work in critical care units and facilities to assist ER physicians and other medical technicians in caring for people in pain, with injuries or possible life-threatening trauma. These registered nurses specialize in quickly assessing and stabilizing various trauma and illnesses with decisive action and urgent treatment or care. Duties and responsibilities of ER Nurses may include managing patient check-in process, communicating with doctors and medical technicians on test results and treatment recommendations, assisting with insurance paperwork, and document medical history. Critical-thinking skills, attention to detail and being calm under pressure are some of the skills required for ER nurses.
ER – Nurse Salary: $74,973 per year
Originally, school nurses’ role was to do routine check-ups to students for illnesses and determine whether conditions need immediate treatment. In the present, this profession has evolved, and responsibilities have expanded. More schools require registered nurses to care for and manage students with chronic illnesses, mental health problems, learning disabilities and behavioral problems. School nurses provide direct care to students. Responsibilities may include assessment and treatment of students, communication with parents, identification of problems in the earliest stage, develop emergency plan to manage potential emergent events in school, conduct screenings and health checks, and coordinate with the principal and teachers on creating health education curriculum. They also play a vital role in the provision of school health services for children with special health needs and disabilities. Resources are quite limited so school nurses must know when a high level of care must be given to the child.
School Nurse Salary: $74,973 per year
Nursing Education Coordinators
Nursing education coordinators’ primary responsibility is to select education materials, schedule training and conference, and keep records of personnel. They may also identify and formulate clinical contracts for all clinical facilities, organize the orientation of students for new clinical instructors, check the preparedness of laboratory equipment, supplies and formulate budget recommendations. They also play a significant role in assisting and training faculty in conducting skills testing as needed. As registered nurses, they may be called upon to work for emergency medical assistance. Management, leadership, organizational research and strong interpersonal skills are essential to becoming a Nursing Education Coordinator.
Nursing Education Coordinator Salary: $72,552 per year
Charge nurses are deemed as leaders in specific shifts and departments of healthcare facilities, office, unit, or wards. These leaders are registered nurses responsible for ensuring that operations in the department run smoothly. They have several responsibilities depending on the nurse manager or head nurse. Directing the check-in process, transfers, discharge and general flow of patients, assigning staff to patients, providing guidance on administering care to patients with special needs, and monitoring the needs of patient and staff are some of the tasks and responsibilities of charge nurses. Overall, they have the same direct patient responsibilities with the nurses they supervise.
Charge Nurse Salary: $70,952 per year
Medical Surgical Nurses
Medical surgical nursing is one of the largest specialty areas in the nursing practice. It is also considered as the foundation for nursing practice. Most registered nurses start their careers as Medical-Surgical Nurses who specialize in the care of non-surgical and surgical patients. These nurses function by organizing and prioritizing complex multiple client assignment since medical-surgical patients have complex diagnoses with complex needs. They are responsible for performing assessments, interventions, providing treatments and keeping medical records. Adding to these responsibilities is communicating with other healthcare providers and patient’s families about the patient care.
Medical Surgical – Nurse Salary: $69,270 per year
Operating Room Nurses, also called Perioperative nurses are tasked to care for patients before, during and after surgery. Several job responsibilities of OR Nurses may include coordinating with other healthcare providers in assessing, planning and evaluating patient care plans, communicating with patient’s family, ensuring operating is performed on correct patient and appropriate procedure is carried out, educating patients on recovery methods, preparation of operation room, completing information files, and assisting patients with fears and anxieties about the surgery. These nurses spend a significant amount of time walking and standing with working hours that include days, nights, weekends, and holidays.
OR –Nurse Salary: $69,270 per year
Critical Care Unit Nurses
Critical Care Unit Nurses are trained to care for patients who are suffering from high risk of life-threatening health problems. Some of these nurses who have a sub-specialty in pediatric, neonatal or adult nursing may serve a particular population. This possible for most large medical centers. Small hospitals have critical care unit nurses that serve patients from different age groups. Responsibilities include assessment and planning on patient’s care plans, observing and recording vital signs, securing all medical equipment and ventilators are working properly, acting as patient advocate, maintaining patient records, and completing necessary paperwork before transfer.
Critical Care Unit Nurse Salary: $69,270 per year
Surgical First Assistants Nurses
Also called as Registered Nurse First Assistant (RNFA), surgical first assistant nurses work with surgeons in the operating room to provide direct patient care and assistance throughout the perioperative period. They have to exhibit skills in positioning skin preparation, providing wound or surgical site exposure, performing tissue dissection, providing hemostasis, and suturing. They also monitor patient’s vital signs and provides physicians alerts in case patients begin to struggle during the surgery. They have to document postoperative management, assist in discharging patients and counsel patients with postoperative care. This position requires extensive training and a certificate.
Surgical First Assistant – Staff Nurse Salary: $69,270 per year
Infection Control Nurses
Infection control nurses basically works to prevent the spread of infectious agents in a healthcare environment. They are responsible for gathering and analyzing infection data, implementation of a system-wide infection control program, monitoring and evaluating incidence of healthcare associated infections, and providing training and education not only to the staff but also to patient’s families. This position requires exceptional advanced skills and knowledge. They work as detectives investigating the source of or origin of a particular infectious agent and work with researchers or doctors in developing ways to treat such infection.
Infection Control – Staff Nurse Salary: $69,270 per year
Transplant Nurse Coordinators
The role of transplant nurse coordinators is crucial to patients care during all the stages of the transplant process. This process involves pre-transplant evaluation, waitlist management, transplant admission, discharge and post-transplant care. These registered nurses are responsible for planning and coordinating transplant services, soliciting organ donors, assists medical staff in the retrieval of organs, communicating with donor, patients and other healthcare members, scheduling of laboratory tests for organ donor and recipient, and counseling recipient and donor with fears and anxieties about the transplant process. You have to pass a transplant nurse certification before getting this position.
Transplant Nurse Coordinator Salary: $69,270 per year
Dialysis Unit Nurses
Registered nurses who care for patients suffering from acute and chronic renal failure and are under kidney dialysis treatment are called Dialysis Nurses. Like any other nurses, they provide care by the nursing process of assessment, planning, intervention, implementation and evaluation. Some of the dialysis nurses’ responsibilities include recording patient’s vital signs, preparing dialyzer, bloodlines and other dialysis equipment, ensuring correct medication is given to the patient, evaluating patient’s reaction to the dialysis treatment and medications, recording patient information, coordinating with other healthcare members in the unit and providing post-dialysis care and counseling to patients.
Dialysis Unit – Staff Nurse Salary: $69,270 per year
Oncology nurses are registered nurses who specialize in the care and treatment of patients with cancer. They work closely with patients and family members in educating them about cancer treatments. Generally, oncology nurses are responsible for administering of chemotherapy, assessing physical, mental and emotional health of patients, developing nutrition and care plan, coordinating with physicians, caregivers and other medical staff, and educating patients and their family members in helping them understand the treatment and its possible effects. Lastly, oncology nurses requires emotional stability in cases where they need to help patients deal with emotional distress or help families cope with death.
Oncology Nurse Salary: $69,270 per year
Phone Triage Nurses
Phone triage nurses provide care for patients through the phone. The help patients who are unable to go to the doctor’s office or the hospital. They have to carefully listen and assess patient’s needs and whether the patient needs to be transported to the hospital or not. They must be highly skilled at listening in order to do the job. Ability to interpret indications of distress like tone of voice and incomplete responses and knowing what questions help make a diagnosis of the patient’s situation. Phone triage nurses are responsible for assessing patients and reassessing them while they wait on the phone, initiating emergency treatment, sorting each patient into priority groups, recommendation of appropriate level of care and communication with other nurses and doctors on the patient’s status. Most of them work in a few different settings like triage service centers, hospitals, trauma centers, crisis hotlines, and doctor’s office.
Phone Triage – Staff Nurse Salary: $69,270 per year
PACU/Recovery Room Nurse
Post-anesthesia care unit or recovery room nurse care for patients who have undergone surgery. Some of the patients do not go straight to the hospital room or home, some have to stop and stay in the recovery room. This is where the job of PACU nurses comes in. They are often the first person that patients see or meet after the surgery. They have to ensure that patients who have gone under anesthesia safely wake up from it. This means observing and monitoring vital signs and level of consciousness. Some patients may feel or experience some side effects of the anesthesia resulting to difficulties in regaining consciousness. This will require full attention and expertise of PACU nurses. Simply put, PACU nurses are in charge of patient care once the operation is finished.
PACU Recovery Room – Staff Nurse Salary: $67,224 per year
Part-time Nursing Jobs
Part-time nursing instructors teach on short terms and to small class sizes. They typically work alternately during weekdays, weekends or in the evening. They may have the option to work only one semester at a time. Some of them assist in the coordination of academic subject matter of the nursing program and provide support to the director or senior instructor of Nursing.
Licensed Vocational Nurses
Licensed vocational nurses are also known as licensed practical nurses (LPN). They provide basic nursing care to patients and are under the supervision of a registered nursed and doctors. They may work nights, weekends and holidays. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, LPNs are paid $22.23 per hour and employment is likely to rise 12% in the next seven years.
Telehealth nurses monitor and report data via telehealth website. They gather information on patient assessment, collaborates with other healthcare professionals and reach patients with the use of computers, audio and visual accessories, and telephones. This occupation can be done anywhere with proper technology. They must possess a registered nurse license and meet competency standards of care.
Legal Nurse Consultants
Legal nurse consultants may work up to only 20 hours a week. Part-time jobs for legal nurse consultant are offered with an option of working from home. Employers may expect excellent writing and oral communication skills, demonstrated proficiency in medical analyses, and strong attention to detail to qualify for this position.
10 Unique Nursing Careers
Academic Nurse Writers
Academic nurse writers contribute to educational materials, articles, and books about nursing. This is an excellent position for nurses who have been in the industry for quite a long time and may want to shift their career direction. They must be able to write, edit and proofread technical materials for accuracy. Nursing writing jobs offer flexibility to work on your own pace and time. Earning may be based from the number of hours worked and completed work.
Nurse Claims Analysts
Nurse claims analysts are registered nurses that monitor liability claims, verify and update information on submitted claims, analyze various types of claims for an insurance company. They approve or deny the claims may be for home or auto accidents, medical insurance claims, long-term care admissions and more.
Legal Nurse Analysts
Legal nurse analysts are registered nurses who use their clinical experience, specialized knowledge and skills to analyze medical issues involved in legal cases and claims. Researching, organizing, problem-solving and educating others are all parts of legal nurse analyst’s tasks. They may appear in court and assist lawyers and paralegals that deal with medical malpractice or cases that need medical expertise.
Diabetes Management Nurses
Diabetes management nurses are registered nurses who provide assistance to patients on the management of diabetes. They have to educate patients and their families on the care and treatment for diabetes. They advise on prevention, medication and early detection of diabetes.
Technology plays a great role in the work of nurse informaticists and has become significant in healthcare settings. Nurse informaticists combine their specialties, nursing skills and data to create a system to improve patient care. They spend a great amount of time with computer systems. Skills in both nursing and technology are required to perform this type of job. Certification in Healthcare Information and Management Systems is available to help you advance in this career.
RN Health Coach
A nurse health coach are licensed practical nurses or registered nurses educate people to follow a healthy lifestyle. Their primary task is to teach people about wellness. They empower their patients and even colleagues to make choices that promote wellness and prevent diseases. They may work with chronically ill individuals, coaching group, or in a corporation. They hold seminars and conferences about general health and wellness.
Clinical Quality Improvement Manager
A clinical quality improvement manager focuses on the operational efficiency and consistency of programs in a healthcare facility. They have to review and revise policies and procedures, establish work plan metrics, analyze metrics relate to diagnoses, analyze performance quality, and provide feedback and improvement initiatives. Some clinical quality improvement managers may work closely with quality directors, IT personnel and healthcare informatics. At least five years of experience is expected to qualify for this job.
Doping Control Officers
Doping control officers, also known as testing managers, focus on promoting a drug-free sport and its related activities. They work with athletes and athletic commissions in implementing the anti-doping program. They are responsible for collecting urine and blood samples in accordance to WADA International Standard for Testing. They also have to review and implement testing related strategies, work closely with team members and assist with the management of cases, if needed. This job requires training and high confidentiality. They must not speak to the media about the doping control process or even communicate with athletes or divulge any confidential matters to third parties.
Utilization Review Nurses
Utilization review nurses are registered nurses who ensure that healthcare services are provided and administered with quality and within compliance. They are responsible for reviewing patient’s clinical information, monitoring the activities of clinical staff, evaluating patient’s current condition and providing medical recommendations to the doctors about their evaluation with the patient. They must also oversee that procedure are done with cost efficiency.
Forensic nurses go beyond their duties as nurses. Their duties typically involve working with law enforcement and the judicial system. They have various types of roles and responsibilities. They may care for victims of assault, sexual crimes, domestic and child abuse. They may also be asked to testify to court about the medical information of the patient they care for. They conduct forensic photography, collect evidence from the suspect and victim, and serve as a link between healthcare and legal systems.
Top Travel Nurse Careers
Flight Transport Nurses
Flight Transport Nurses are registered nurses that provide more service than the typical nurses. They often work to provide medical care to patients before and during transport to healthcare facilities. They must be highly trained and skilled to perform many tasks. These tasks may include performing pilot assistance as needed, delivering patient autonomously, monitoring patient records for smooth process of transfer and generally helping to assure that is safe and timely flight transport is executed by all the aircraft and healthcare staff involved.
Travel Nurse Stepdown General RN
Stepdown Units provide patient care to patients who are stable enough to transfer out of the critical care unit but still need more intensive monitoring than on medical-surgical wards/units. Nurses expect a heavy caseload in stepdown units. Newly graduates may take advantage of stepdown travel nursing if they want to work and explore great places. This is one great way to sharpen your skills. Travel nursing agencies let you enjoy several benefits and competitive salary.
Travel Nurse OR RN
Operating Room Travel Nurses may work as scrub nurse, circulating nurse, RN first assistant and OR director. According to Bureau of Labor and Statistics, median annual pay for registered nurses is $71,130 and specialty nurses can earn more than the average nurses. Travel nurses are on hourly pay based on annual salary range. Geographical location, scope of responsibility and availability may affect pay.
Travel Nurse ICU RN
Most facilities look for nurses with experience in the intensive and critical care units, critical care registered nurse certification and some may require post-graduate degrees. Some ICU travel nurse may serve in medical evacuations and be part of transport teams.
Travel ER RN
ER travel nurses typically work in emergency or triage areas of hospitals and healthcare facilities. Salary would depend on years of experience, geographic location and nursing credentials.
Labor and Delivery Travel Nurses
Labor and delivery travel nurses may be assigned to work in the maternity department of a healthcare facility or in a freestanding birth center. They may also cross train and work in all related areas of labor and delivery. Salary may vary depending on factors such as experience, geographic area you’re working in and certifications you hold.
Home Health Travel Nurse
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were about 4.5 million patients who receive home health care. This means demand for home health care nurses have also increased. Home health nursing has several benefits. It lowers healthcare cost, offers flexibility and work independence. Nurses can take time as long as needed to provide patient care and comparable salary is given with home health nursing.
Dialysis Travel Nurses
Dialysis Travel Nurse have to work with patients of all ages. They are typically paid an hourly compensation through their travel nursing agency rather than getting paid direct from the healthcare facility. Travel nurse perks such as bonuses, paid housing and travel reimbursements, and education assistance are all available for dialysis travel nurse.
Cardiac Cath Lab Travel Nurses
Cardiac catheterization is a procedure of inserting a catheter into a chamber or vessel of a heart. Cardiac cath lab nurses assist doctors in performing this procedure. This nursing specialty lets you discover and work with the latest technology in cardiac care. Cardiac cath lab travel nurse may work for an on-call but have the freedom to choose when to start and where they want to work.
Why should I earn a nursing degree?
Many students take up a nursing degree to be better positioned to lead the charge on holistic, preventative care, not just to fulfill their passion for providing health care and pursuing their interest in science. Not all nurses have followed the traditional path of earning a BSN. Some started with LPN training, while others earned associate degrees. But just like any other profession, earning as many credentials as you can will give you many more opportunities for advancement.
Some nurses are already working, but they go back to the classroom at their own pace, seeking to further their education and earn a specialization. Having a degree means you can apply for promotions and gain more significant compensation. A nursing degree can improve your marketability as more and more hospitals require nurses to hold a bachelor’s degree, even for entry-level positions alone.
Since healthcare is evolving along with society’s needs, learning about diseases and their complex processes can give you an edge over your competitors. The BSN degree teaches more than just clinical skills. They are also trained to practice critical thinking, leadership, case management, and health promotion.
Higher nursing education can also make a considerable difference in clinical outcomes, as nurses with BSN degrees contribute to lower mortality rates and moderate failure-to-rescue rates. These nurses often make proper diagnoses that lead to better patient outcomes.
Having this degree can help you become more attractive to future employers, especially for nurses needed in federal agencies, military, and health care foundations. Nurses who have earned their degrees can also enjoy a high level of job security and professional advancement. They are also open to pursuing a wide variety of career paths, such as critical care or administrative positions. A BSN degree can also let them practice in diverse healthcare settings.
In the future, nurses might be required to get their BSN degrees within five years of earning their diploma or associate degree. The nursing gap shortage might be a concern, but it is also vital for many health care institutions and facilities to ensure that the nurses they are hiring have higher levels of nursing education.
The magnet designation is awarded by the American Nurses Association and is highly coveted by many hospitals. One of the essential requirements to qualify for this distinguished accolade refers to the educational level of the nursing staff. It requires 48% of nurses to have a BSN or higher.
Who is best fit for the nursing degree?
If you have been thinking about earning a nursing degree, you must consider several factors that can make or break your dream. It is not enough that you are good at science and curious about working in healthcare. You should also have the passion and commitment to make a difference in a patient’s life.
People who are best suited for a nursing degree should be able to:
Nurses are known to see their fair share of blood. They are often tasked to draw blood, administer IV fluids, change dressings on wounds, and be present during procedures that involve blood, like that in delivery or surgery. If you are queasy, then you might have a hard time going through the clinical training requirements and perform your job well once you are registered as a nurse.
The duties of a nurse are not only confined to clinical procedures. Often, they are also required to listen carefully to their patient’s complaints to avoid missing important factors leading to a diagnosis or complication, which can lead to better patient outcomes. They need to listen and address their patient’s questions and concerns as advocates of health care.
Work Long Hours on Your Feet
It is no secret that nursing is a physically demanding job that requires you to lift and turn patients, hustling back and forth between patient rooms and from bed to bed. They spend the majority of their shifts on their feet, and this can be physically taxing. To be a nurse, you should be prepared to stand and walk for hours.
Empathize with Others
Empathy is a needed trait in nurses. They do not only need to consider their patients but also their colleagues when making decisions and taking actions.
Nurses often receive pertinent information from their patients, ranging from chronic symptoms to complicated medical histories. Nurses should not only listen to their patients, but also comprehend and analyze their concerns. Extensive knowledge about their conditions, minor or major, can be the difference between life and death.
Nurses should be naturally sensitive and alert when it comes to side effects of medication, undiagnosed disease, symptoms of worsening problems, and so much more. They should be able to have strong analytical skills that can help them determine the best course of action.
Good at Communicating
The job of a nurse is crucial in preserving life, but it is also prone to errors if nurses are not extremely careful. Their goal must always be to ensure the prevention of mistakes and to increase patient comfort and care. Therefore, they need strong communication skills to consult with their fellow medical professionals about their patients, both verbally and in writing.
What is required to be a registered nurse?
Earning a nursing degree is not the last requirement to becoming a nurse. Not all nurses are the same. Many nurses take different paths to work in the current field they are pursuing. A BSN graduate is not equivalent to a registered nurse.
To be clear, a registered nurse (RN) is a nursing professional who medically treats and provides educational and emotional support to patients and their families. Usually, registered nurses will have to administer medication, evaluate and monitor patients, as well as, maintain medical records.
To become an RN, you will be required to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Students with an Associate degree in Nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing are eligible to take the licensure exam.
Your degree choices can dictate the length of time that it takes for you to become a registered nurse. Since a BSN degree can take longer, it means you can only become an RN after four years. Becoming an RN is the destination, but earning a BSN degree can give you more leverage in the workplace.
The bottom line, however, requires registered nurses to begin with the right education. Once you have earned the required degree, take the NCLEX exam as administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). This test will determine your preparation for entry-level nursing positions. The exam covers a variety of topics, such as primary care and comfort, prevention and detection of diseases, coping and adaptation, and pharmacological therapies.
After passing the exam, you need to apply for RN licensure in the state where you are going to work. The requirements, fees, and the length of time it takes for you to obtain your license can differ from state to state.
Registered nurses are in demand in many institutions; therefore, there will be plenty of opportunities to choose from. Registered nurses seeking to raise their qualifications can either opt for a master’s degree or undergo training for specialized knowledge. They can also attend certification classes in the areas of critical care, acute care, or nursing management.
Is nursing a stressful job? What do nurses do?
As the life and soul of the healthcare profession, nurses play an integral role in providing care, comfort, and kindness to patients every day. It is an incredibly challenging job that demands hard work and dedication. It is certainly not a profession for the faint of heart. After all, nurses are subjected to terrible diseases and death from time to time; however, assisting in the healing of a patient can be most rewarding.
A nurse’s decision can mean the difference between life and death; therefore, they must be prepared and vigilant at all times. Nurses must have stellar memory skills, as a mistake in treatments or other clinical processes can be detrimental to the patient’s well-being. Attention to details is a must. Their minds must accommodate extensive knowledge about thousands of medications, specifically to their intended uses, classification, dosage, and adverse reactions.
Aside from clinical care, nurses also need to listen to their patients and comfort them in times of need. They are often tasked to calm worried families and help them understand the condition their loved ones are in. Routine days within the hospital setting are rare. Nurses are required to fulfill many responsibilities and tasks, prioritizing the ones that need the most attention.
Occasionally, nursing can be overwhelming, as some simply cannot take the excessive pressure and its demands. With that aside, nurses are also required to render long work hours, unlike a fixed, regular shift that most professions enjoy. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of nursing is being accountable for one’s actions, as there should always be extra precautions in place for every decision. Nurses must be prepared to witness suffering daily.
However, despite its many challenges, nursing is still a rewarding and fulfilling job that can give meaning to your own life. Confidence in your training will allow you to excel in providing the best possible care for your patients as you perform your daily duties. When you can help your patients recover, all while contributing to their better quality of life, you will feel the joy in doing this often difficult job.
Nurses have an array of responsibilities including:
- Observing and recording patient’s condition,
- Performing physical and diagnostic tests,
- Collecting patient health concerns and histories and analyzing them,
- Communicating with physicians, surgeons, and other healthcare professionals that you work with,
- Educating patients about treatment plans,
- Administering medications, wound care, and other treatment options,
- Interpreting patient information and making appropriate decisions,
- Conducting research and improving patient outcomes and healthcare processes.