Working in the field of nursing is a fantastic career, with many career benefits including pay and advancement. If you have just completed your nursing degree, or you have been a nurse for a while, you may be wondering where to go next. Nowadays, there are so many different courses and ways to advance your nursing career, from becoming a nurse-midwife to a nurse practitioner. Below is everything you need to know before advancing your nursing career.
What Do You Enjoy?
When first looking to advance your career, you need to delve a little deeper. With so many options out there, knowing what you truly enjoy about your job role or what specialty you would love to work in will help you make a choice when it comes to courses. With nursing, there is an option for everyone and if you are passionate about a particular subject, you are more likely to gain job satisfaction.
Think about the placements you have been on and where you wanted to learn more. Consider if you like your current place of work or whether you want to branch out. Perhaps you want more responsibility; if so, a nurse practitioner or doctor of nursing practice (DNP) is probably a suitable career for you.
When choosing to advance any career, universities and colleges will look at the experience you already have. This can also help you make a decision as to whether now is the right time, or whether you want a few more years’ experience under your belt. If you have only just qualified as a registered nurse (RN), you don’t want to be jumping straight into a master’s degree before you’ve truly had time to settle in, and gain confidence and valuable experience.
Many places of study will want you to have been nursing for at least a few years before advancing your career. Those extra years of experience will build your confidence and offer an insight into who you are as a nurse and what you truly want to do going forward.
Once you are ready to advance your nursing career, you should have a look at some courses that are available to you. If you haven’t gained a master’s degree yet, this is the place to start. There are different levels of master’s degrees, depending on how you studied to become an RN. If you don’t have a bachelors, there are bridge programs available too.
You can also choose to study certain specializations, such as a clinical nurse specialist or a nurse practitioner. If you have already gained your master’s degree, there is no need to stop there if you want to carry on advancing your career. You can also study for a DNP, which is a doctor of nursing practice. This is the highest level of education you can achieve as a nurse and you will have many responsibilities similar to that of a doctor.
Study and Work Balance
You must be ready to put in the work and study when choosing to advance your career. This means being able to make the time around your already busy work-life schedule. Some nursing jobs can be very supportive when you are studying for a degree, especially if you are going to work with them once you qualify. If studying and working seems like too much, you may want to cut down to part-time hours so that you can fit everything in.
Depending on where you study and what degree you go for, you may have to do placements, which means you may not be able to work at the same time. Studying and working can be a lot, so saving up to take some time away or cut down your hours might be a good idea if you have other commitments.
Choosing a Place to Study
Once you have chosen what you want to study, it is time to have a look at different universities. If there isn’t a university near you, or they don’t offer the course you want, you may want to consider studying online. Baylor University has a range of DNP programs online, which means you can study no matter what state you are in. This is great if you don’t want to move or travel to go to university. Not only this, but studying online gives you more flexibility and the chance to work around other commitments.
If there is a US state you want to work or live in, it may be worth checking for places to study near there. That way, when you finish your degree, you will know the area, and you’ll get a feel for the jobs around the area, and all the required licenses to start working right away.
Paying for Your Studies
A big question on every nurse’s lips when thinking of career advancement, is money. Getting another degree or qualification can be costly and if you don’t have the money to pay upfront, you may be worried about carrying that student debt around with you. As nursing is such as sought-after job role and with such a shortage of nurses across the US, there are many amazing opportunities to get money back from your nursing studies.
If your employer is behind your studies, they may even offer to support you by paying some of the bill. Some options for paying for your studies includes grants, scholarships, refinancing old loans, or taking out a private or federal loan.
Getting Help and Support
Advancing your nursing career is not going to be an easy thing. You need help and support from your job, family, your partner, and friends. Having this support can help if you are feeling run down or stressed, or if you have an important deadline and need help taking care of the kids. Speak to your employer before starting any course, to see what they can put in place. They may be able to offer some study leave. Reach out and let people know when you are burning out, as this won’t do any good for yourself, or your patients.
When advancing your nursing career, consider what you enjoy and where you would like to study. Make sure you have the experience and know how you are going to fund your course. Get help and support from others to help you through your degree. Best of luck!