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Advance Your Nursing Career with these Top Tips

When it comes to job security, there are few roles that offer the same level of consistency as nursing. There are massive nurse shortages around the country and so many exceptional options – especially the higher up the nursing chain you go. From working full-time, to working privately, to working freelance, there are multiple career models, workplaces, and industries that you can work in and so many different areas of medicine to specialize in.

It can feel more straightforward when you work towards your RN credential. You need to earn your BSN and are taught all that you need to know. Due to the nursing shortage, you are almost guaranteed to find a job within a few months of earning your certification. You may change jobs and adapt based on work/life balance and working conditions, but you don’t have to ever worry about putting in time or effort that you may come to regret later.

While you will never necessarily regret the specialization you choose, you may find that you want to change tracks. Similarly, there will be instances where you will want to develop your experience and knowledge further.

Knowing how to both navigate the higher education world of nursing and also how to look within yourself to discover your passions within nursing and healthcare, are both key tools you will need to advance your career with confidence.

Advancing Your Career within Nursing

In order to open up the largest number of possibilities for your future, you are first going to want to understand what you want out of your nursing career within healthcare. Specializing doesn’t mean you put yourself in a box; it simply expands your credentials. Becoming a nurse practitioner, for example, can make you eligible to work in highly advanced roles both within and outside of healthcare. FNPs can even open and manage their own practice in many states.

It can feel tempting to rush through your education. Trying to get through your education when you are young and theoretically have more energy sounds like a great idea until you realize that you may not yet have a clear idea of what you want out of your career.

Giving yourself time to explore and learn more about yourself and nursing as a whole can help you confidently move forward with your career. Work as an RN in departments, workplaces, and on units that interest you. See first-hand whether you like it or not and what pace is the right fit for you personally.

You can always change and adapt, but so long as you find something that interests you and touches on what you are passionate about, you can find a great direction to get started.

Earning Your MSN

Taking the time to explore the different areas of medicine and the type of work that you are interested in will make it easy to find the right MSN (and, therefore, the right specialization). Though there aren’t accelerated MSN options, you may find that an integrated degree that allows you to earn both your MSN and also your doctorate can be the perfect option to suit your goals.

Regardless of whether you tackle just your MSN or go for an integrated option, you will need to make sure that the degree in question will allow you to work in the right role. You can, of course, keep your options open and become a general nurse practitioner and then specialize later on with a post-master’s certification.

When to Go for a Doctorate

The highest level of education that you can earn within nursing is a doctorate. The most popular of all the options is the DNP, which prepares you for leadership roles in a variety of settings. Not only will you advance your capabilities as a nurse practitioner with a DNP, but you will also stand out from other candidates, making you the preferred option for roles that have limited staffing, like directors.

APRNs are also being used more commonly to offset the shortage of physicians in certain fields. One of the most famous examples is how APRN-FNPs are being used to help with the primary care physician shortage.

More states are opening up and expanding the powers offered to FNPs, but what you may find is that to practice autonomously in your state, you won’t need just an MSN but a DNP.

The good news is that there you can earn an MSN to DNP online from a top university, and for less than you think. You can even transfer over clinical hours to reduce the requirement from 1000 clinical hours to 500, putting you even closer to your dreams of earning a DNP and being a doctorate-holding nurse.

When to Go for a Post-Master’s Certificate

Post-Master’s certificates allow you to specialize in a new role. It takes less time to complete a post-master’s certificate than it does to tackle a new MSN entirely because it is designed specifically for those who already have an MSN under their belt.

There are many reasons why you may want to certify in a new field or role. Perhaps your state has recently increased the autonomy of FNPs and now allows them to open up their own practice. Being a business owner and a nurse can be an opportunity too good to pass up, at which point you will want to become certified to work as an FNP with a post-master’s certificate.

Exploring Your Job Opportunities Outside of Healthcare

There are so many incredible ways that you can take your nursing education outside of the healthcare sector. You can technically work wherever there are people. In fact, the only reason you cannot work in whatever setting you so choose is due to budget and logistics.

What this means, however, is that you can work in many sectors. Work in entertainment on either the medical team or on the health and safety team. Work with sports teams and provide on-site medical care and preventative treatments. Work with research teams that travel around the world, or help with treatment development.

Nurses specialize in the human side of healthcare, and where they can work and what they can do is massive. Don’t feel bad about burnout out from caring for others, either. You can help even if you aren’t directly working with patients.

If you ever find yourself ready to leave nursing behind you but don’t know what to do next with your career, look outside of healthcare. You can earn an EdD and become ready to start educating the next generation of nurses. You can work in policy and help create legislation and recommendations that improve patient care and the work/life balance of nurses in your state or even across the country.

There are so many ways that you can take your nursing experience and education. The only thing holding you back, especially the further you take your credentials, is knowledge. You need to know your options, so explore all job options even if you aren’t looking so that you can get a better idea of what is available at all times.

How to Advance Your Career without Burning Out

Healthcare students and residents experience the highest levels of burnout. Not only do they have a demanding job to do, but they also have the stress of learning and the licensing exam to consider. This applies to those aiming to become doctors and also those in nursing looking to expand their careers by advancing their credentials.

The good news is that you do not have to burn yourself out at both ends to see your goals through. Instead, use these tips to better manage your energy and your stress so that you can advance your nursing career in a healthy, positive way:

Take Advantage of All the Tools at Your Disposal

One of the best ways to avoid burnout is to take advantage of the tools and resources that you have at your disposal. A great place to start is with your university. Use the student success advisor, ask for help and advice, and use all the available resources and services available to you to not only make it easier to tackle your nursing career and your education but to also further your career aspirations.

Don’t forget your own personal resources as well, from friends and family to the local services available near you, to even your workplace. Asking for help can do wonders towards making it easier and giving you more options to balance the study/work requirements without burning out.

Break Up Your Responsibilities and Make them Habit

When it comes to your degree, break up what you need to do. It can be very daunting and can cause a lot of anxiety to try to manage large chunks of extra work on top of your career work at once. Rather than do that, break up your study periods. Do a little bit at intervals throughout the day. Not only will this make it easier, but it will also help you learn and memorize better as well.

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