When it comes to roles that have been around since the dawn of humanity, nursing is certainly one of the top ones. Nurses, physicians, and healthcare workers have been around in one form or another for millennia, but the nurse position as we know it today is exceptionally new. Nurse education, for example, only began in the late 1800s.
The first nursing school was set up by the infamous Florence Nightingale and Mrs Wardroper in 1860. It would be another 13 years before the first school of nursing opened up in the United States, and even then, nursing education was far from standardized or universal. The first UK-based school was in London, and the first US school was in New York City.
What nurses were trained in was also limited. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1960s and 1970s that nurses really started to be accepted into specialized positions. Before then, especially before WWI, nursing was an unregulated title. Afterward, the big shift began, and finally, nurses as we know them today started to take shape around and during WWII.
Overall, nursing is incredibly new. There certainly wasn’t the opportunity to specialize in primary care, as an aesthetician, and more. Today, many APRNs are being used to offset the shortage of physicians, and many top nurses have around ten years of education under their belts and more years of practical experience.
Nurses cover care with a patient focus. This focus can be entirely holistic, or it can be done with science and medicine in mind. With these advanced roles, nurses can truly customize their careers and build something great for themselves.
It isn’t easy, however. While doctors and physicians spend a long time before they start working, training, and educating themselves, many nurses work and learn at the same time. This can make getting into nursing and moving up into APRN and DNP status more accessible, but that doesn’t mean that the juggle won’t be a struggle on its own.
You owe it to yourself to find a nursing position that you love. You deserve to work as a nurse and get a salary that properly reflects your skillset.
Working as a CNA, LNP, or RN is important, but just as with anything, you will want to move on eventually. When you have reached the place where you are ready to move up to the next stage of your nursing career, check this guide for advice, tips, and suggestions on how to transform your nursing career for the better.
How to Explore Your Interests in Nursing
Moving up in nursing means specializing. You may generally specialize, for example, in a primary care setting or family care setting, but at the end of the day, you will be working towards a special qualification that requires its own degree or postgraduate certificate.
This specialization does mean you box yourself into a specific role. You can always expand your qualifications later on with a postgraduate certificate, but this is extra money and extra time. You are always better off exploring your interests and learning more about what you want from your career before you choose your MSN or another degree.
If you are an RN, this can be as simple as working in different departments and as part of various teams. If you can show that you worked in the specialization you want to study toward, you may even find it easier to be accepted in the highly competitive programs available today. In other cases, you may need to work in certain teams in order to be accepted at all.
Many midwife programs, for example, require their applicants to have worked either under a doula or APRN midwife or as part of a mother-baby team.
Shadowing and working in other departments aren’t the only ways that you can and should explore your interests and passions within nursing. Try to find work in different work environments. You may be bored to tears working in a clinic or another slower-paced environment, and similarly, you may find working in hospitals burn you out too fast and cause too much stress.
Finding the working pace and schedule that helps you lead a healthy, fulfilled work/life balance is just as important as knowing what specialization interests you the most.
Only once you are convinced and committed to a certain role should you then find the program that will train you and prepare you.
Advancing Your Nursing Career with Further Specialization
One of the best ways to transform your nursing career is to further your training and specialize in a specific role. When it comes to choosing the exact role in question, you should always do soul-searching, but more than that, you need to really read up on what those roles do in your state.
Take Family Nurse Practitioners. In some states, they have limited privileges and are highly trained nurses that must work under primary care physicians. In other states, they can write prescriptions and even open their own clinics. Whether you want to become an FNP will depend on more than just an interest in primary care but also on what you can do with that role where you live.
You can, of course, move. The eNLC is a multi-state agreement that allows nurses from most states to move and transfer their nursing licenses with minimal fuss. If you want a role within a certain state and it is easy to move, then you can and should make that transition before you start your degree.
Choosing the Right Education Approach
Choosing a specialization and finding a program is just the first step. You will also want to explore the options that allow you to earn your certification sooner and for less. If you currently hold an Associate’s Degree in Nursing, for example, know that you don’t have to first earn your BSN before you can specialize with an MSN.
How? You apply for an RN to Nurse Practitioner MSN program designed for AND-holding RNs. This type of degree works by acting as a pass-through BSN. This means you earn the credits that will allow you to graduate with a BSN as well as the MSN program all at once. Combining your degree needs like this can help you graduate up to seven months sooner and for less than going for the traditional approach.
When it comes to these unique opportunities, know that they are not available for every specialization. This ADN to MSN program only offers three concentrations at the moment. You can specialize as a Family Nurse Practitioner, in Adult-Gerontology Primary Care, or in Psychiatric/Mental Health.
Other Ways that You Can Transform Your Nursing Career
Advancing your career is one of the best ways to transform your career. You graduate and can immediately apply for APRN roles the moment you have your new licenses. If you want more ideas on how you can transform your nursing career both within and outside of healthcare, the top tips for you include:
- Find a New Working Environment
If you are in desperate need of a change and cannot wait to graduate and get started in a whole new role, then try changing working environments.
Some thrive in hospitals. Others burn out so fast that they may consider pulling out of nursing entirely. Don’t give up your degree or your passion for helping others. There are so many different open roles and so much need for qualified nurses that you are practically guaranteed to find the perfect working environment for you.
- Explore Career Options in Healthcare
Working as a specialist is an obvious way where you can transform your career within healthcare, but that isn’t the only way forward. You can move out of primary care into leadership, for example, and lead the nurses of a hospital or even region. You can alternatively work to earn an EdD or PhD and start working as a nurse educator.
There are so many ways that you can specialize, customize, and really make your nursing career your own. To find the right option for you, start with research and ask around to see what is available and what appeals most to you.
- Explore the Career Options Out of Healthcare
There are so many ways that you can take your career outside of healthcare. If you want to work with patients, then you can work privately. Many professionals work as expert carers for those with large budgets and no interest in being relocated to a nursing home. You can also work as part of private health and safety teams.
You can work as a set nurse or health consultant. You can work in policymaking or research. You can be part of the health and safety team for the biggest events and concerts, or you can work on your own as a school nurse.
There are so many excellent options for you as a nurse that do not involve traditional healthcare providers. There is a lack of open positions, however, so continuing training and working your way up and building a network are going to be important for your career.
- Consider Starting Your Own Business
Many nurses can actually open their own businesses. You can do this privately, for example, if you want to start a wellness brand that really emphasizes your nursing experience. You can also do it within the medical sector. FNPs can start their own clinics, midwives can often manage their own patients, and so on. What you can do when it comes to starting your own business will be highly regulated by the government. To avoid stepping on any toes, always hire an expert when you set up your business so that you can ensure you are operating within legal bounds.
- Move to a New Town or State
Finding where you feel at home is very important for your quality of life. If you feel isolated and hate living in a city, then moving out to a smaller community can be just what you need to enrich your social life and even enjoy a more affordable quality of life.
Although there is a lot of talk about decentralizing healthcare, you do need to be careful when it comes to work opportunities. To see if there is work where you want to move to, check local listings and see what telehealth opportunities there are available that would allow you to work remotely or as distanced as possible.
- Take Your Nursing Experience on the Road
If you want to get out there and see the world but feel tethered to your hospital, then it is time to head off on your own. One of the best ways for adventuring nurses to get out there is to work as a travel nurse. Travel nurses are hired for the day or week, depending on what an understaffed hospital or clinic needs.
You won’t have as consistent work this way, but in return, you tend to earn more and have a lot more control over your schedule and, most importantly, where you live and what you see. If you have a multi-state nurse license, then you can live and travel slowly across the country.
You may even be able to work internationally and see the world while providing key healthcare services. You can work for a non-profit, can work on a research expedition and more.
How you work will depend on the rules and regulations of the places where you go. The good news is that, for the most part, these considerations will be handled by your employing organization.
The Importance of Managing Stress and Your Mental Health
Burnout and chronic stress are two of the most severe concerns facing nurses today. Adapting and moving towards a goal can immediately help you stay focused and can reduce stress overall, but it isn’t going to be enough to fix everything.
Prioritize your health, your stress management, and your mental health starting today, and then plot out your future.