As a professional career path that is in higher demand than ever before, nursing is an important role where a high level of education and experience is essential. Before qualifying as a registered nurse and getting their license to practice in their state, nursing students are often required to obtain a certain number of on-the-job experience hours, which they will usually do as part of their nursing degree. Whether you plan to get started with a career in nursing in the future or are already currently working as a registered nurse, it’s likely that you already know that this career path gives you plenty of options when it comes to climbing the career ladder and progressing in your chosen role.
When it comes to career advancement, there are several advanced degree program options to choose from. More and more registered nurses are choosing to get an advanced degree online since this is an option that is often more cost-effective and more flexible, allowing nurses to continue working full-time while taking steps to advance their careers. Today, there are advanced nursing degrees available to study online at every level including master’s degree programs, postgraduate certificates, and nursing degrees at the doctorate level. Here are some career options that registered nurses might consider working towards with an advanced degree.
The role of a nurse practitioner is one that is currently in very high demand. Nurse practitioners are advanced nurses with full practice authority in twenty states, which gives them permission to conduct many of the same roles as a primary care physician without the need for supervision. With fewer medical students deciding to go into primary care these days, nurse practitioners are needed to ensure that the shortage of primary care physicians is not having a negative impact on patients. To work as a nurse practitioner, you will need to achieve a minimum of a master’s degree in nursing. You can find online master’s degree programs and postgraduate certificates that are designed to prepare nurses for a role as a nurse practitioner. Family nurse practitioners tend to be the most likely to go into primary care, but there are several other specialty areas available including adult-gerontology, pediatrics, neonatal, oncology, psychiatric, and retail health.
Nurse Management and Leadership:
Healthcare professionals including nurses will always be in need of management and leadership professionals who will take charge of the team to manage and coordinate patient care. If you’re the type of person who enjoys leading a team and managing others, you might be interested in this type of nursing role. Nurse leaders and managers are responsible for the collective success of a healthcare professional team or a healthcare provider. In this role, you will be dealing with a variety of tasks including managing teams of nurses and other healthcare professionals, managing hospital departments, clinics, and various other healthcare environments to ensure that care standards are met and patients get the treatment and care that they need.
A master’s degree in nursing can qualify you to work as a nurse educator teaching students at the BSN level. If you want to teach advanced nursing students, you will need to achieve a doctor of nursing practice degree or a PhD in nursing, which you can get online from Wilkes University.
Nurse educators play a hugely important role in the healthcare industry since without them, it would not be possible for new nurses to join the profession. They often work in a range of environments including on college campuses and in teaching hospitals, where they will act as a mentor to their students.
With more nursing degrees now available online, there is also a growing number of nurse educator roles available where you will be able to work from home. Nurse educators are currently in very high demand across the US as a shortage of these professionals is one of the main factors leading to the shortage of nurses. With fewer nurse educators than is needed to get the number of nurses in the industry up, the shortage is not down to a lack of people wanting to get into nursing but rather a lack of professionals available to teach them, with many colleges and nursing schools having to turn applicants away each year.
Specialty Nursing Areas:
Depending on the specialty area of nursing that you want to get in, you may or may not be required to get an advanced degree. Some nursing specialties will simply require you to get a professional certificate, while others require more. For example, a master’s degree in nursing is often required for those who want to work as a nurse-midwife or in neonatal nursing. You may also be required to get a specialist master’s degree if you want to work as a nurse in an area of higher risk to patients such as the ICU or the operating room.
Choosing the Right Advanced Degree Program For You:
Choosing the right advanced degree program for you is key to ensure that you can reach your nursing career goals and advance your career in a way that works for you. The good news is that today there are several different options for ambitious nurses including both campus-based and online programs that you can choose from depending on which works best for your lifestyle and needs. Some of the main factors to keep in mind when choosing the right advanced nursing degree program for you include:
· Type of Degree:
The type of degree that you study will have an impact on how easy it is for you to complete and perhaps even when you can do with it in your career later. Whether you decide to study for your advanced nursing degree online or on-campus can have an impact on the type and number of programs available to you, which school you study at, and if you can get support from your employer.
· Employer Support:
Since many healthcare employers will also benefit from nurses taking an advanced degree and gaining qualifications that allow them to work in a different more advanced role, it is always worth having a conversation with your employer before you decide to enroll on an advanced nursing degree program. If you’re currently working as a registered nurse, your employer might be partnered with a certain nursing school, or they might offer other types of support that you will be able to take advantage of, such as covering tuition payments or offering a scholarship.
· School Reputation:
Whether you decide to get your advanced nursing degree online or on-campus, the reputation of the nursing school that you attend is definitely a major factor to consider. While rankings may or may not be important to you, some of the key things to look at include the quality of teaching, the credentials of the teaching staff, and the future prospects of students. It’s worth taking the time to find out what past and present students are doing as a result of attending this college and if it has had or is set to have a positive impact on their career.
· Why Get Your Advanced Nursing Degree Online?
When it comes to how you study for your advanced nursing degree program, there are both online and traditional campus-based options to choose from. If you’re currently working as a registered nurse and are planning to juggle your work and your studies as you get your advanced degree, there are many reasons why studying online could be the best option for you to choose. More and more nurses are choosing to study online when getting their advanced degree, for a wide range of beneficial reasons.
· Additional Flexibility:
For many nurses who want to further their careers, one of the first reasons to consider studying online is that it is often a much more flexible option compared to studying on-campus. When you are studying for your advanced degree on-campus, this will usually mean that you need to be present for lectures and classes and can’t fit the study schedule around your lifestyle and work. This could mean that you end up having to work fewer hours or work more unsociable hours to fit in time to study throughout the day. On the other hand, online degree programs don’t usually require you to be there at a certain time. Lectures and other learning materials are often either recorded or uploaded online in written format for you to access at your own leisure, which ultimately makes it much more flexible and easier to fit around your current life rather than the other way around.
· It’s Cheaper:
Although tuition fees don’t really differ these days between online and offline programs, online advanced nursing degree programs still win when it comes to which will be the cheaper option. When you are studying online, you don’t just get to work more hours due to the flexibility, which prevents you from losing as much income as you might when studying on-campus, but you will also miss out on all the additional expenses that are often difficult to avoid when you study on-campus such as commuting, parking, or buying food on campus.
· More School and Program Options:
Studying online provides nurses with a much wider range of options to choose from when it comes to the school that they attend and the program that they choose to take. If you are working as a full-time nurse and have other commitments to uphold in your local area, it’s probably going to be difficult for you to relocate so that you can study to get your advanced nursing degree at a school of your choice. In the past, nurses who wanted to get an advanced degree were limited to studying only at the college campuses that were closest to them. However, today things are very different with online programs giving you the option to study at a college that might be located hundreds of miles away.
· Less Stressful Experience:
Attending nursing school to get your advanced degree while you are working full-time as a nurse at the same time can be a very stressful experience. The experience can be less stressful, however, if you decide to study online since you’re in more control of how, where, and when you want to study rather than being tied to attending lectures and classes at certain times. The additional flexibility that is provided by an online advanced nursing degree can make it easier for you to manage your stress levels by coming up with a tailored schedule that works well for you. It gives you the opportunity to study in a way that suits you best on any given day.
· More Acceptance and Recognition:
For nurses that are considering getting an advanced degree online, the idea of their degree program not being recognized or accepted by employers in the future can be worrisome. However, the good news is that despite the skepticism that surrounded online degree programs when they were first introduced, things have certainly changed a lot since then. These days, online programs are a very popular way of getting a qualification and they have become much more widely accepted and even respected by employers in all industries.
· Improve Your Transferable Skills:
Finally, studying for your advanced nursing degree can also help you improve a wide range of transferable skills that you will need throughout your nursing career. While studying for an advanced nursing degree online, you will be in a situation where you will need to spend every day practicing key skills such as communication skills, organization skills, time management skills, and more. As a result of this, once you graduate you might have an advantage over others who studied on-campus and did not have as many opportunities to fine-tune these skills that are often vital in nursing.
If you want to advance your nursing career, getting an advanced nursing degree online can lead to a variety of excellent career opportunities in nursing including advanced clinical, education, teaching, and management roles.