Nursing as a profession is arguably one of the most rewarding career paths you can ever take. It offers tons of opportunities for your personal and professional growth. At the same time, it is a field that is always changing as new research, technologies, and treatment methods emerge almost every day. Thus, nursing offers a plethora of career opportunities and specializations for you to choose from.
If you’re someone who is interested in nursing as a profession, here’s the complete guide on how you can best pursue this both as a career and as a passion.
Explore the Various Types of Nursing Degrees
One of the most important steps in planning a career in nursing is to explore the various types of nursing degrees. These degrees can range from diplomas to doctorates. Based on your career goals, you have to decide which type of nursing degree you want to pursue.
An Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is a two-year program that will prepare you for entry-level nursing jobs. ADN programs mainly focus on basic nursing concepts, including patient care and communication skills.
Then there’s the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree which is a four-year program. It provides you with a comprehensive education in nursing. These programs deal with basic nursing skills along with other soft skills you need for the profession, including leadership, research, and critical thinking.
A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN degree is another two-year program that will help you work on various advanced skills. These programs focus on specialized areas of nursing, which include nursing education, nursing administration, and clinical nurse specialization.
Lastly, there’s the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. This doctoral degree will provide you with the highest level of nursing education and prepare you for advanced practice roles. Apart from an in-person program, you can also opt for an online Doctor of Nursing Practice program where you’ll get the same training and develop the same skills necessary for taking on nursing leadership roles. This doctoral program is of utmost importance if you want to reach the top of the ladder when it comes to nursing practice.
Whether you’re pursuing an MSN degree to expand your career opportunities or to delve deeper into a specific nursing field, it’s worth considering the benefits of obtaining licensure in the 39 compact nursing states. Having a compact nursing license can open doors to practicing in multiple states, providing you with a wider range of job prospects and the flexibility to explore different healthcare settings across these participating states.
Research the Various Types of Nursing Specialties
Once you know the various nursing degrees and know which ones you want to explore, it’s time to do some digging into the various specializations this profession has to offer.
As a nursing professional, you can always offer your services in all available sectors. However, you must specialize in a particular area to climb the ranks. For that, you need to acquire specialized knowledge in that field.
Some of the most sought-after nursing specializations include the following.
- Pediatric Nursing: Here, you have to provide nursing care to children and adolescents.
- Oncology Nursing: Oncology nurses provide care to patients who are dealing with cancer.
- Critical Care Nursing: In this specialization, you’ll be taught how to provide care for patients dealing with different types of life-threatening conditions.
- Psychiatric Nursing: As a psychiatric nurse, you will provide care to patients dealing with various kinds of mental health conditions.
The specializations vary greatly from one another. When it comes to choosing one, you must opt for whichever one you think promises the best growth opportunity for your career. At the same time, it’s also important to find something that you will be comfortable with. There’s no point in forcing yourself to specialize in an area just because it pays well or has greater chances of advancing your career as a nursing professional.
Gain Clinical Experience
Gaining clinical experience is one of the most vital parts of planning a career in nursing. You can gain clinical experience through internships, volunteer work, or even paid employment. Such an experience will provide you with hands-on training and experience in patient care. This is essential for developing all the necessary skills and knowledge required for you to progress in your career as a nursing professional.
Obtain Nursing Licensure
You have done your basic education, worked on your specialization, and have also gained clinical experience. Now it’s time to get your nursing license. This licensure is mandatory in all states of the U.S. It ensures that you, as a nurse, have met the education and competency requirements needed to provide safe and effective care to your patients.
The requirements for obtaining nursing licensure can vary from state to state, but they generally include:
- Completion of an approved nursing education program
- Passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN).
- Completing a personal and criminal background check
- Meeting any additional state-specific requirements
With that, you’re ready to enter the nursing profession. As you can tell by now, becoming a nurse is a gruesome and sometimes tedious process. However, if you put your back into it, you can achieve your goals with ease.