When you first entered nursing school, it is very likely that your efforts were focused on simply getting through your classes and clinicals so that you could successfully apply to become a registered nurse (RN). Entering the workforce as a fully qualified RN would have granted you new insight into what the work actually entails when you have the ability to practice to the full extent that you had always hoped.
However, many nurses find throughout their time works as RNs that they feel called or drawn towards a particular area of medicine. These days, there are a great many options that nurses can consider when it comes to career advancement and the various opportunities that they can pursue.
With so many options to consider, however, you might be struggling to find what area of nursing or even advanced practice nursing is right for you. There are a variety of factors to consider, from salary range to job security. Furthermore, you want to work in the area of medicine and nursing that is the most fulfilling and rewarding for you.
If you are hoping to pursue a specific area of nursing but aren’t yet sure what area that should be, here are a few things that you should take into account that can help you to make your decision.
Level of Education
As with most professions in the field of medicine, the various areas of nursing that you can consider will be associated with certain degrees and certifications that you must acquire. This is due to the fact that so many areas of nursing are highly specialized and require specific training and knowledge.
If you have already earned your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and have worked for a few years as an RN in the field, you should be able to qualify for any sort of master’s degree program that would be applicable to the specialization that you would like to pursue. However, if you became an RN via an associate degree program, you should look to complete your BSN before you take any other significant steps.
The various types of nursing degrees that you can pursue once you have your BSN completed will vary in length and difficulty. For instance, if you wish to become a family nurse practitioner (FNP), the route that you will take will most likely span the length of about six to eight years. Some programs are designed to be a bit more expedited, though, and you can most likely save yourself some time by enrolling in an online degree program like the ones offered at Carson-Newman.
On the other hand, there are some specializations that only require a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree that can be completed in about 18 months. Essentially, you will want to consider the amount of time that it will take for you to become fully qualified and certified in the area of nursing that you would like to pursue so that you can ascertain if it is something you are willing to dedicate the appropriate amount of time to.
Your Professional Strengths
Another thing that you should take into account as you are searching for the right area of nursing to pursue is what you bring to the table from a professional standpoint. Some nurses possess certain professional strengths that naturally gear them towards certain roles in nursing.
For instance, if you are a strong leader and have excellent communication skills, a career as a family nurse practitioner can be worth considering. In such a role, you would find yourself acting pretty much as a physician would in the family care setting. You might be evaluating, diagnosing, and treating your own patients and running your own staff.
Strong leadership skills can also come in handy if you wish to work for the administrative side of nursing. Managing RNs and other staff as well as overseeing certain aspects of running a clinic or hospital is no small task. However, if you are naturally a strong leader, this is certainly an area of nursing that is worth considering for your own career path.
Those who have a passion for patient advocacy might even wish to take their talents outside of the clinical setting and work in the policy development side of medicine. There is a growing need for experienced and caring nurses to speak on behalf of patients in such roles like these.
As with any career move that you might wish to make, it is important to consider some other more practical matters as well. For instance, if the area of nursing that you would like to pursue is going to take several more years of schooling in order for you to become fully qualified, can you continue to support yourself and maintain your current job as an RN at the same time?
Furthermore, there is always the matter of salary to consider. While the salary of an RN is nothing to scoff at, it is widely known that pursuing advanced degrees and certifications can bring you into a much higher salary bracket. That being said, it is important to look at such numbers as they apply specifically to the state in which you practice as opposed to national averages.
For instance, the job of a certified nurse anesthetist (CRNA) is known for being the position that tends to pay nurses the highest of salaries. With a national average of around $165,000 per year, it is no wonder that many nurses consider this path. However, when you look at the salary breakdown by state, you see that there is a bit of a difference.
CRNAs working in Montana tend to make the most, with that state’s average being around $240,000 per year. CRNAs in Arizona make the least on average, with a salary of around $144,000 per year. While that number is still quite enticing, you should certainly weigh your expectations against the numbers that are applicable to your situation.