Discover a nursing career path

that is all about you.  What do you want to do and where do you want to go?

There is not really a predetermined path so you need to build one.

This will give you some insight and help you on your way.

A nursing career path is now, more than ever, a self directed opportunity.  Some people achieve just the beginning steps and are satisfied, others strive to more advanced levels throughout their career.  Find out what the various types of nurses are, some examples of specialties and how to begin constructing your career path.

Types of Nurses:
In talking about the various types of nurses, we will focus primary on level of education as it pertains to the level and direction of the nursing career path.  There is much more that can be said about each of these types/levels of nursing and we will provide that information in posts on this site.  But for now here are some  brief explanations to consider.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
Many nurses start out the nursing career path as a licensed practical nurse, also called a licensed vocational nurse.  Usually the LPN has about a year of schooling from a technical college or community college.  As an LPN you will work under the direction of doctors, nurse practitioners and registered nurses.

Registered Nurse (RN)
The registered nurse has 3 general education levels.  You may get an associates degree (ADN) , usually 2-3 years of education, and then sit for the exam (NCLEX).  If you pass, then you are a registered nurse.  This path is common as it is the fastest way to become a nurse and you get into the industry quickly.  Also, some employers will pay for you to get more education.

The bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) is the next level of education.  You can go straight into a BSN and by pass the ADN stage, or you can continue on to the BSN after you have completed an ADN.    Usually the BSN takes about 4 total years and is generally (but not always) required if you are looking to advance your career into management positions.  Although ADNs will get more experience in practical knowledge quicker than a BSN, the level of education in critical thinking and theory tends to be greater for the BSN.  Shortly after entering the healthcare industry the BSN will get the required practical knowledge to advance their nursing career path.

An RN that has a BSN may get an advanced degree, the master’s of science in nursing (MSN).  This is the doorway that leads to upper management and to the level of nurse anesthetists, clinical nurse specialists, nurse-midwives, or nurse practitioners.

With an advanced education usually comes

a higher average salary.

Nurse Anesthetists
A nurse anesthetist is involved before, during and after surgery and related care for the purpose of providing anesthesia.  Pain management is also a primary task.  You will have to take additional acute pain management education of about 2-3 years, thus getting an MSN.  After your degree, you will be eligible to sit for the certification exam.

Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS)
There are many specialties that are available to the CNS and most usually entail direct patient care and/or expert consultation.    Administration, research, case management, education are some other areas in which a CNS will find their role.  As a CNS, you will be not be a generalist.  You will be highly focused in one area of the healthcare industry.  You will be setting standards, solving problems, trying to prevent problems and be an expert in your specialty.

These nurses mostly provide care to women for family planning, obstetrical and gynecologic treatment, and neonatal care.  You responsibilities live in the realm of Caring for mothers before and after birth, participating in the delivery of the baby, examining the mother and baby to ensure health, and maintain records about both the mother and baby.

Nurse Practitioner (NP)
This nursing career path is based in providing primary care as well as specialty care.  In most cases, the NP works in a practice under the supervision of a physician, although there are some places that they have their own practice.  Often you will be doing examinations of patients, you are able to prescribe medication and therapeutic treatment.

Once you are a nurse, you still have many choices of where to lead your nursing career path.

Specialties are the spice of life.  Really there are so many types of specialties in nursing, you just have to be able to find something that fits your interests.  Some of the more popular ones are listed below but there are so many more.  And, as you continue along your nursing career path, don’t be afraid to pursue other specialties.  Times change, people’s interest change, the quest for knowledge beckons, be flexible.

•    Education
•    Public Health
•    Forensics
•    Elderly Care
•    Administrator
•    Obstetrics
•    Psychology
•    Informatics

Ok, so how do you get there?

Determine an ultimate goal- Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 20 years?  What interests you today?  Will it be interesting to you in a decade?  Do you have the dedication to achieve your goal?

Consider a preferred location- Where do you want to work? In a hospital, health clinics, maybe schools, what about  home health care?  Does that align with your career goals?  Is there a certain place your specialty is most often found?  If you are an emergency nurse, well obviously, you are most likely going to find yourself in a hospital.

Determine an appropriate nursing education-LPN, RN-ADN, RN-BSN, RN-MSN, NP or other advanced practitioner.

Estimate how much Time-How long will it take you?  Can you wait that long?  You must think about the time required for education, the years of practical experience you may need to move to the next level, etc.

Can you survive costs-This can be a big issue.  Education costs.  Some employers will pay for advanced education, so that might affect which nursing career path you take.  You may have to take a small step at a time to be able to afford it.  You can get financial aid or other funding, but sometimes there are time considerations here.  Will you be working while in school?  Take this in careful consideration.  It has been shown that those who work more than 20 hours a week while in nursing school have a great percentage of failure.

What is your nursing career path?