What Degrees Will You Need to Reach Your Nursing Career Goals?

What Degrees Will You Need to Reach Your Nursing Career Goals?

Nursing has always been an essential, trusted and well-respected career. In light of the Covid-19 pandemic and many nurses seeking retirement, nursing education have become an even more critical part of the healthcare system to train new nurses to fulfill this urgent gap in the healthcare system.

Nurses are more than just healthcare workers; they provide care and treatment for sick patients while providing support for patients and family members during challenging times.

As the nursing industry evolves, there has become a greater demand for healthcare services due to an aging population and shifting technologies. With the need for hospitals and other organizations to maintain the best care for patients, nursing has also become a highly sought-after role in an in-demand field.

“From an educational standpoint, nursing has seen a demand for BSN educated nurses as the minimum entry into the professional degree,” said Nick Carte, PhD, AGNP-C, APRN and faculty lead in the nursing program at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). “Nursing continues to be the highest and most respected profession because nurses adapt to change and the environment they need to work in.”

Your first step is to decide your career goals within the nursing field, as different degrees are required for different nursing types. Once you know where your goals lie, you can begin your degree program.

While nursing requirements vary state by state, you will need to complete either an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) at a minimum. During your BSN, you will explore healthcare management, ethics in healthcare, leadership, and more.

If you choose to advance your nursing degree from there, you can go on to complete your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).

During your MSN, you can choose to focus your degree on a more specialized career.

Some examples are:

  • MSN – Family Nurse Practitioner
  • MSN – Healthcare Quality and Safety
  • MSN – Nurse Leadership
  • MSN – Nursing Education
  • MSN – Population Health

What is the Best Career in Nursing?

There is no one job in the nursing field that is the best, but one position may be the best for you. Many nursing professions extend outside of a traditional hospital experience. For example, many nurses work in family practices or clinics, home healthcare services,

Before beginning your nursing career or nursing education, create goals for yourself and do your research to explore all your options. Ensure you learn about what it’s like to be a nurse in your desired role to know if it is the right fit for you.

Some popular nursing positions include:

  • Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA): A CNA works as a part of the healthcare team under the supervision of a registered nurse. They provide basic care from motoring vitals to cleaning, bathing, and caring for patients. The education requirement is often a state-approved education program with on-the-training required. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports, in 2021 the median salary of a CNA was $30,290, and as a projected job growth of 8% through the year 2030.
  • Registered Nurse (RN): As an RN, you will assess patients, administer medications and treatments, provide emotional support to patients and their families, and more. The education required to become a nurse is typically an ADN or a BSN from an accredited university. In 2021 the median salary for an RN was $77,600, with a 9% projected job growth from 2020 to 2030, according to BLS.
  • Nurse Practitioners: A nurse practitioner’s role is to serve as a primary care provider to deliver nursing services to patients. They manage a patient’s health and discuss ways to incorporate a healthier lifestyle where necessary. Most nurse practitioners hold at least a master’s degree in a nursing program. According to BLS, in 2021 nurse practitioners earned a median salary of $120,680 and the field is expected to grow by 52% through 2030, which is a much faster average than most occupations in the field.
  • Nurse Educators: Nurse educators are mentors and teachers who work in nursing schools and teaching hospitals to prepare the next generation of nurses through their own skills and knowledge. While the pay for a nurse educator can vary depending upon your certification, skills and the number of years in your profession, the average salary for a nurse educator in 2022 is $103,448, according to Salary.com.”As long as we maintain the profession of nursing, we will need highly capable educators to provide new education, as well as ongoing education, to nurses everywhere,” said Kimberly Gibbons, DNP, CNM, RN, CNL, CNE, a clinical faculty member in the nursing program at SNHU.

Many nursing specialties are in high demand as the pandemic created a need for more professional, clinically skilled nurses in hospitals and medical centers.

There are many nursing jobs for you to consider and it’s a field that will always be needed. We saw this more than ever over the past couple of years.

“Nurses stepped up and we cemented our place in healthcare,” said Carte.

Boredom: “not something nurses find…”

A day in the life of a nurse depends upon the type of nursing role you choose to build a career in. Even in your specific role, your days may look different as you work with various patients who have different needs.

“I believe boredom is not something nurses find,” said Gibbons.

For Gibbons, who worked as a nurse-midwife at the beginning of her career, days were filled with taking care of women and families in outpatient offices, along with hospital rounds and round-the-clock care for patients giving birth or with medical concerns.

Her days look much different now. Having spent over three decades in nursing and completing several degrees, Gibbons now works remotely as a nurse educator teaching master’s students.

While Gibbons’ day to day has changed working in her various roles, her days have always looked different from Carte’s, who works as a nurse practitioner at a family practice, providing care for those with acute and chronic illnesses.

A day in the life as a nurse will be different for everyone depending upon your job. Still, no matter your job, your role will include communication, organization, critical thinking, and compassion and provide opportunities to contribute to healthcare and improve the lives of others.

“My day begins with the understanding that I can make a difference in someone’s life and work to keep my passion alive through the rewards of positive health outcomes seen with many of my patients,” said Carte.

Is a Nursing Degree Worth It?

There are several pathways you can take to become a nurse. With different nursing degrees, certifications, and licensures available to you, achieving your nursing degree can benefit you and your career growth.

Earning your bachelor’s degree will help to open new doors for your career. For example, if your goal is to become a labor and delivery nurse, you will need to have achieved your ASN or your BSN to gain the proper knowledge for your career.

Your bachelor’s degree is also essential in advancing your career as it prepares you for your master’s. In addition, a master’s is necessary for certain positions. For example, if you hope to take your career further and become a nurse educator, you will need at least an MSN degree.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), about 41% of employers require at least a BSN for new hires, while over 77% of employers prefer to hire BSN graduates.

The AACN also found during a 2021 survey that 76% of BSN students and 75% of MSN found employment by the time they graduated.

Nursing is a complex field that grows every year. There will never be one path best to become a nurse with many job opportunities for you to explore.

Your nursing degree will provide you with the knowledge and skills necessary to provide the best care for your patients and prepare you for whatever nursing career path you decide is the right fit for you.

“Take the risk to go back to school and learn new skills if the skills you currently have are not leading you to work that is gratifying,” Gibbons said. “No one can ever take your education away, so it is truly the path to gain new opportunities,” said Gibbons.

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