How to Progress Your Career in Nursing- A Guide

Though it is not always necessary to have clear-cut goals for your career, it does wonders for your efforts if you know the general vicinity of where you want to end up. When you know this, you can make the right decisions both in your career and in your personal life to help you achieve your goals.

In most professions, this is still very subjective, but if you work in healthcare (particularly as a physician or a nurse), then your way forward is rather simple. You still have plenty of options and opportunities to customize your career, both in terms of what you do and where you do it, but because of the sheer amount of training necessary, it is a good idea to be confident in your career choices from the outset.

This guide will help you to track where you want to go in your nursing career and see your goals successfully attained. Just remember to take your time, mind your health and wellbeing, and never give up:

Know Your Options

The most important part of starting a new career is to know your options. It is not always easy, especially if your career is new or subjective, but in careers like nursing, your choices are all available on the table. You cannot start a new nursing role because the state and the government need to ratify that role first. It does put some constrictions, but many would admit knowing all their options makes it much easier to find their place. You can always customize your career in small ways but knowing the roles available at the apex of your career can help keep your efforts focused.

APRN Specializations

Online nursing programs make it easy to specialize and further your career, but they are only easy because it does not take much guesswork. You complete so many online nursing programs, and you will become an APRN. You choose the online nursing programs that will allow you to specialize in the field that is of most interest to you and work steadily through your courses until you graduate.

It is not easy to pursue a degree while working, but when you know the reward at the end of your efforts is tangible and very within your grasp, you can stay dedicated. There is not a question of whether your degree will help you get a great new job with online nursing programs because it will. There are no ifs ands or buts involved. You work to complete your BSN and MSN online nursing programs, and you will then qualify to become an RN and then an APRN, respectively.

There is such a lack of nurses that there will always be open positions available to you. You may need to relocate to a different hospital, and there might be a bit of competition for a highly paid job at a well-regarded clinic, but at the end of the day, you will be able to find and secure a job with your new qualification.

The population is expanding, and nursing is behind. Nurses also happen to be the very backbone of the healthcare industry, so it is one of the most secure, sensible careers to get into. If you care about others and are a caretaker at heart, there is no better position available.

There are many, many individual types of APRNs, and you can always tweak your position later on. That is why for now, it is not a matter of what individual role you want to work in, but what specialization is of most interest to you now. Know this, and you can keep your career trajectory clear-cut and direct:

Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners are the most common option because their field is so big. You often choose a specific field or demographic to specialize in. You can go from being a family nurse practitioner to an oncology nurse. It depends entirely on whether you are interested in helping with a specific group or with a specific type of disease. There is no right, or wrong answers here, so do not worry. You will be helping people in desperate need of your care regardless of which of the online nursing programs and specializations you choose.

Nurse Midwife

Midwives are gaining in popularity throughout the United States and around the world. More soon-to-be-parents want the comfort of their own home and the comfort of a consistent face to help them with their delivery.

Clinical Care Nurse

Clinical care nurses work more in the administrative side of care and are essential to improve the quality of care that all patients receive. They also work to help improve the quality of life for their fellow nursing staff. You would find them in more managerial roles in hospitals, clinics, and care homes.

Nurse Anesthetist

As stated before, there are many individual roles. Those roles, however, are easy to get into once you are in the right general umbrella. In some cases, you may know what you want and can direct yourself immediately into the role you want, for example, as a family nurse practitioner. In other instances, you may work to become a clinical care nurse in a specific field and then work towards further certifications to shift your position into the niche you are most interested in.

Where You Can Work

It is not just the specializations that you need to think about. Nursing can allow you to work almost anywhere and in almost every industry. Yes, the businesses that can afford to keep an on-site nurse are mostly large, international corporations, but if they feel that it is in their best interest to have a nurse on staff, there is an opportunity available.

However, when it comes to these positions outside of the healthcare setting, you will have better luck if you focus your career either by concentrating on gerontology or as a family nurse practitioner. Mental health nurses can also have a wide range of applications and may find more positions in non-medical industries.

Here are just a few examples of where you can work:

In a Healthcare Setting

nursing-nurse-blood-pressure-hypertension.jpgThe most obvious location is within healthcare. There are hospitals, clinics, satellite clinics, and of course, emergency roles that will allow you to put your skills to work with the greatest number of patients. You can choose the level of work and the intensity as well, just by locating to a new position.

If the state you are in is part of the eNLC (Nurse Licensure Compact), your options are even greater in terms of where you can work, as you do not need to retake the nurse licensing exam when you move.

This means that if you do not mesh well with a busy city hospital, you can either relocate to a clinic or move further out into a rural area. Small hospitals and clinics are often understaffed because the money is in the big cities. This means that those living in rural areas are receiving a consistently lower standard of care. This may be because they do not live near qualified individuals or live too far away to visit a clinic or hospital when they otherwise would need to.

In Telehealth

You do not need to move necessarily, either. There are many new roles in telehealth, especially as 5G starts to roll out properly. The combination of new technologies and the importance of telehealth in 2020 and beyond means that there are many new possibilities for nurses to reach many patients. These patients are those that have typically fallen in the cracks beforehand as well. You can provide greater levels of care, all without seeing them in person.

As a Location Nurse

A school nurse, a university nurse, or another other on-site nurse allows you to care for patients in a clinic-like location, and only rather than have patients come to you, you are already on location. Your work will come in particular use in education settings. Some students do not have equal access to healthcare at home, so their only interaction with a healthcare official is you.

As a Nurse Educator

Nurse educators are highly qualified nurses who have gone beyond the standard number of online nursing programs. They are APRNs with an Ed.D. who have decided to retire from the front lines, so-to-speak, to work on training and educate the next generation of nurses.

There is already a shortage of RNs in the United States, and a further million are expected to retire by the end of the decade. We need to increase the number of new nurses, but the biggest stopgap to this is a lack of qualified educators.

In Entertainment, Events, and Sports

The entertainment, events, and sports industries all require on-site medical staff. If you have always loved movies and wanted to be a part of that world, you can be a nurse. Stunts must be monitored by health staff, and nurses and doctors need to be on standby. Events require the same safety measures, as do professional sports. You can work in a field you love, doing incredible work all at the same time.

Never feel that just because you work on a movie set or in the medical tent at a big concert that you are not doing all you can for people. Your work is just as critical, and so long as you love what you do, you have every right to continue living your dream.

What Happens if You Change Your Mind?

What if you went through all the online nursing programs, all that effort, and decided that the specialization you chose just wasn’t for you? This is a fear that many people have when it comes to finally decide where and how they intend to get there. In nursing, it can be very daunting. Online nursing programs take years to complete, and if you go through all that and end up not wanting to do that line of work? What then?

You have two options.

Use Your Current Education to Short-Cut Future Options

It is important to remember that you are working towards an MSN when you choose online nursing programs. This MSN is universal, which means if you want to switch positions, you can do so. You will need to go back to your education, yes, but you will not be starting from scratch. You can instead focus on the courses that would allow you to specialize in this new area.

Certifications and Further Training

Sometimes you do not need to go back directly to a university. There are certifications and further training opportunities that will allow you to direct your career where you want it. You just need to keep your eyes open.

Remember: To Succeed You Need a Strong Support System

If you want to succeed as a nurse, you need a strong support system. Staying healthy and well is a great way to maintain the energy you need to learn and work as a nurse, yes, but how do you intend to do that all on your own? You need friends, you need family, and you need your co-workers. It can be something as small as having someone else make you dinner once in a while, all the way to having a friend to cry on when things get too much.

Emotional support, wherever you can find it, is how you will progress your career in nursing. Seeking out help and relying emotionally on others is not a weakness. Compassion fatigue and mental illness amongst first responders and nurses alike is very, very high. Put yourself first in all situations because if you are not at your best, your patients will suffer as a result anyway.

You can do it. You can see through every goal and achieve your dreams. Yes, you will need to complete online nursing programs to get there, but you can juggle it with the right support system and be a success.

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Last Updated on February 18, 2021 by Marie Benz MD FAAD