March 28, 2017 by Matt Krumrie
Becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or a Registered Nurse (RN) is a great accomplishment, and there are many good paying, traditional nursing career paths that both LPN’s and RN’s can pursue upon completion of their degree.
But there are even more opportunities for career advancement – along with increased salary, for registered nurses who pursue advanced nursing degrees. In fact – be sure to scroll down to the bottom of this article to see a comprehensive list detailing advanced nursing career paths – as well as a cool infographic detailing nursing careers by degree and pay.
The article 15 Highest Paying Nursing Jobs said: “To really thrive however, many RNs earn additional certifications, go for an advanced degree, and specialize in one particular area of nursing. This increases their earning potential by helping them qualify for positions at more prestigious hospitals. Some advanced practice RNs can even open their own clinics.”
Obtaining advanced nursing degrees is a challenge, but worth it for the nurse who aspires to continue to advance in their professional career.
“Advancing your nursing career from one level to the next can be an intimidating and time consuming endeavor, but in the end it’s worth it,” says Diann DeWitt, PhD, RN, CNE, chair of the Nursing program at Argosy University, Phoenix. “Highly educated and highly skilled nurses are able to exercise a higher level of autonomy, offer a greater degree of care to patients, and enjoy higher nursing salaries and a greater demand and satisfaction for their work.”
Once a nurse becomes an RN they can then focus on advanced degrees or specializing in an area of patient care, such as labor and delivery, pediatrics, or trauma (ER), points out Kerri Hines, MSN/Ed., RN, Department Chair for nursing at San Jacinto North Campus. San Jacinto College offers various nursing programs, including a Vocational Nursing (VN) Program, Registered Nursing (RN), and LVN – RN Transition Program. These programs provide an opportunity for students to have multiple pathways into a nursing career. The Vocational Nursing Program is a one-year program that prepares a graduate to work as a Vocational Nurse. Licensed Vocational Nurses work in hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics, home health, schools, and other health care facilities to provide basic care to patients.
“These specialty areas usually require a RN degree and keen assessment and clinical reasoning skills,” says Hines.
Registered nurses also work in clinic settings, where they must have the ability to multitask and oversee medical assistance, as well assist the nurse practitioner or physician. “The nurse must take on a leadership role,” adds Hines. “All of the above career opportunities require excellent communication skills and teamwork. Some settings require the nurse to work more independently than others. However, all nurses are part of a team.”
Nurses can also pursue nursing certifications, which allow nurses to demonstrate one’s knowledge and experience in a particular area, says DeWitt. Nursing certifications are available for registered nurses and advanced practice nurses depending on the program. In addition, current LPNs may be able to waive a portion of the RN program depending on their previous experience and the College or University admission requirements. Generally, transitioning from LPN to RN will involve taking general education courses, admission to and completing an accredited RN program and then registering for, and passing the NCLEX-RN examination.
No matter what area of study a registered nurse purses, compassion, professionalism and a caring attitude are trademark skills of nurses who find success and satisfaction in their work. “These skills also help inspire the motivation to pursue life-long learning, which is becoming increasingly important to the nursing profession,” says Dr. Michele Dickens, the online nursing program director for RN and RN to BSN degrees at Campbellsville University in Kentucky. “Learning new technologies and the ability to adapt to change is essential for long-term career success in the healthcare field.”
It’s a great time for nurses passionate about education, patient care and career advancement. Those who have some real world experience may be able to better understand the path they want to choose, and once they find that niche, the possibilities and opportunities are endless.
“Nursing, in my opinion, is the greatest profession to go into,” says Dr. Janet Mahoney, PhD., RN, APN-C, NEA-BC, Dean of the Marjorie K. Unterberg School of Nursing and Health Studies at Monmouth University. “Once a nurse has a firm foundation in nursing experiences and feels confident in his/her role as a nurse, the sky is the limit as far as career options go.”
For example, Forensic nurses are critical resources for anti-violence efforts. Forensic nurses collect evidence and give testimony that can be used in a court of law to apprehend or prosecute perpetrators who commit violent and abusive acts. If a nurse is interested in clinical practice, the Nurse Practitioner and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degrees will give them the skills to be experts in the field. Monmouth offers Forensic Nursing, Nurse Practitioner and DNP programs, but not all colleges and universities do; so any nurse looking to specialize, needs to thoroughly research their educational options. Advanced degrees prepare nurses to apply evidence-based findings to their clinical practice. DNP nurses practice at the highest educational level and have an equal place at the table with other doctoral level professionals.
Below, we highlight a variety of nursing career paths one can pursue with advanced nursing degrees:
Health Informatics Technology: With the ever-growing integration of information technology in hospitals and other patient care facilities (including the advent of the Affordable Care Act requirement for electronic health records), this field continues to expand, says Dr. Kim Hudson-Gallogly, head of the University of North Georgia’s Department of Nursing. UNG has developed courses and degree options that can augment the traditional nursing degree and provide skills to meet the demands of the technology boom. Besides the nursing education needed for this pathway, it is essential that the nurse have extensive information technology course work to help the nurse manage data and processes associated with health informatics. To that end, nurses or students interested in this career path would do well to gain a good deal of experience in computer science. To market yourself effectively, hospitals and other care facilities will want to know how your skills can help them manage and process patient data. “Employers will be especially interested if you can showcase innovative software or programming talents that will make their other departments and employees more efficient at their own work,” says Hudson-Gallogly.
Clinical Trials Research: This field has become even more important as the push for research has increased across all patient care facilities, says Hudson-Gallogly. In this position, nurses study medical strategies, treatments and devices, and ascertain whether they are safe and effective for humans. A successful clinical trial typically reveals that the strategy or device in question either improves patient outcomes, offers no benefit, or causes harm. Registered professional nurses meet part of the requirements for this role with their extensive patient care experience, decision-making skills, and organizational skills, which are all essential abilities for the research nurse. However, nurses in this field will study more extensively in the hard sciences than their practice-based counterparts, as they will need to be exceedingly proficient in the scientific processes behind testing new treatments and devices. UNG is currently in the process of developing a clinical trials research degree for health care professionals that will launch in 2018.
Operating Room Nurses (or perioperative nurses): These nurses require a specialized skill set that includes being extremely organized, possessing a strong problem-solving ability, and being technologically savvy. While this pathway requires licensing as a registered professional nurse, it is so highly specialized that it is difficult to recruit and retain qualified applicants. As a result, there is a shortage of these nurses, says Hudson-Gallogly. Operating room nurses have the serious responsibility of planning for and supporting successful operations and surgeries, which includes a great deal — accurate and thorough patient assessment, detailed diagnoses, operating room suite planning, timely intervention when a an issue is identified, and vigilant evaluation once the patient has undergone a procedure are all critical functions of this nursing role. UNG has developed an introductory course to generate interest in this field in an effort to meet the needs and demands of the hospitals and ambulatory surgical sites. In 2018, UNG will launch a certificate that will prepare the nurse to be better prepared and more successful in this field, said Hudson-Gallogly.
Home Care Nursing: A home care nurse can provide intermittent care to home bound patients (visiting nurse) or provide around the clock care to patients requiring skilled nursing care. “Registered nurses need the skills to assess not just the patient, but the home care environment to ensure that the patient is receiving adequate care,” says Dr. Patricia Burke of Touro College School of Health Sciences Department of Nursing. The home care nurse needs to work independently and make clinical decisions coordinating care with other health care professionals (social worker, occupational and physical therapy) and providing comprehensive reports to the physician and insurance companies. One of the benefits of home care nursing is the flexibility and the ability to arrange visits to meet the nurses’ preferences. For instance, the nurse can arrange to conduct visits while their children are in school. Weekends and holidays are usually covered by per diem or on-call nurse, another added bonus.
A baccalaureate nursing degree is preferred but not required to become a home care nurse, however, at least one years’ experience as a nurse is required. For a specialty home care nurse, such as pediatrics, two years’ experience may be required. With home care nursing experience and a baccalaureate degree nurses can progress to coordinators of care, supervising home care nurses and ensuring that documentation of care meets regulatory standards.
Occupational Health Nurse: The occupational health nurse (OHN) needs basic assessment and education skills. The focus of the OHN is on the identification of workplace hazards, education regarding prevention and safety of employees, and preventive care. OHN’s also conducting employee risk assessment with management, compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations and training for industry specific safety issues. “A benefit of being an OHN is that the hours are regular with no weekend or holiday requirement,” says Burke.
Research Nurse: A research nurse can function at all levels of research from obtaining consent, collecting the data through analysis and dissemination. “Attention to detail is one of the most important skills needed for a research nurse,” says Burke. Research nurses can work in pharmaceutical, medical, or nursing intervention trials. This job requires excellent written and verbal communication skills, a knowledge of the research process and clinical expertise in the area studied. Most research nurses will work Monday through Friday, 9-5, with weekends and holidays off. If the research nurse is working for a pharmaceutical company their position may involve travel and evening seminars to disseminate findings. The minimum requirement for a research nurse is a baccalaureate degree, however a Masters is preferred.
As nurses further their education and gain experience, more formal leadership opportunities arise.
“New graduates must understand that healthcare and nursing is a dynamic area that is constantly changing,” says Hines. “The key to success is to be open-minded to new heath care trends and adopt a lifelong learning mindset. Additionally, the nurse must understand flexibility, as things are always constantly moving and changing to best meet the health care needs of the patients, their families, and the community.”
For a greater break down of nursing careers by degree and pay, check out this cool INFOGRAPHIC from Ashworth College:
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March 07, 2017 by Matt Krumrie
Compassion, patience. A willingness to help. A desire to continually learn. Those are all important traits of a successful nurse, say Dr. Kim Hudson-Gallogly, head of the University of North Georgia’s Department of Nursing.
“The medical field is constantly growing and changing,” says Hudson-Gallogly. And recent college grads pursuing a career in nursing or nursing jobs must be prepared to adapt now, and in their future. Especially when it comes to landing that entry-level nursing job.
Those pursuing entry-level nursing careers should “try and expose yourself to many different areas of nursing so that you can know where your interests truly lie,” says Hudson-Gallogly. “That way, you can have at least a couple of areas you would like to work in, in case your first choice is not available.”
According to the American Nursing Association “Nursing is the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, facilitation of healing, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, groups, communities, and populations.”
To succeed in a nursing career, college students and recent college grads pursuing nursing careers need excellent people skills with the ability to listen, observe, and communicate with others, says Rhonda Bell, Dean of Health Sciences at San Jacinto College North.
“A nurse is a team member in an ever changing dynamic health care system,” says Bell. “He or she must have the ability to work as a part of a multi-disciplinary team in order to achieve the best outcomes for the patient and family receiving care.”
Nursing can be a stressful career, says Bell. But also rewarding. A nurse must be able to manage stress and deal with emotional situations, as well be flexible and adaptable on short notice. What it comes down to is, a nurse must have a passion for caring for others, says Bell.
Nurses are taught to be unbiased and non-judgmental when caring for all cultures, ethnicities, socio-economic groups, genders and age groups, says Dr. Janet Mahoney, Dean of the Marjorie K. Unterberg School of Nursing and Health Studies at Monmouth University.
“The profession is guided by the code of ethics,” says Mahoney. “Nursing is a highly respected profession and one that the public highly regards as one of the most trustworthy.”
Nurses portray calmness in a sea of chaos, adds Mahoney. As new nurses join the field, they quickly learn how to multitask and delegate appropriately. Each patient’s care experience brings nurses to a new level of knowledge, competency, and confidence. Each experience builds on the other to form a firm foundation.
What are some other skills and traits of a successful nurse? What does it take for current college students and recent college grads to succeed in a nursing career? Nursing industry educators and leaders provide these 10 secrets to success for recent college grads pursuing nursing careers: