With shortages across the country, there are many employment prospects and career choices for those choosing to train as a nurse. Many of those career options include interesting and rewarding work. Advanced qualifications, such as a master’s degree, can lead to specialist and leadership roles. Nurses also have a choice as to which populations to work with, and which specialism they wish to pursue. By achieving the right qualifications for the role they want, and getting the required experience, they can achieve a fulfilling career.
High-level courses can enhance skills and knowledge and lead to quality clinical practice. Studying at this level takes commitment and dedication, but the benefits can make it worthwhile, providing rewarding work roles and better job opportunities. Being well-paid to do interesting work can bring personal fulfillment – and healthcare is just one of the incredible ways you can do so.
For instance, if you wanted to learn how to become a nurse in Missouri, Rockhurst University’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing is a respected online degree that covers a vast amount of detail and the skills that are necessary for nurses in all different specialisms. For those who already have a bachelor’s degree, the university offers an ABSN (accelerated BSN), which allows you to complete training with the qualifications you already have. This online degree enables you to complete your studies at a speed that works for you.
In terms of developing your career after completing a BSN – accelerated or otherwise – many nurses will complete advanced nursing practice. This type of learning can lead nurses into specialisms within healthcare, or educator roles.
Advanced nursing practice is a field of nursing that incorporates high levels of practice with enhanced skills and knowledge. Completing a master’s or a doctorate allows nurses to work in advanced practice roles. In an advanced practice role, nurses have autonomy and flexibility at work and can be leaders to other healthcare staff. Their work includes assessing patients, diagnosing, ordering tests, and prescribing medication. They also work to improve patient care and treatment plans in the clinical setting. These types of advanced degrees can also be completed online.
What are the benefits of studying online?
Online degree programs such as the one at Rockhurst University have become a popular method of study. They can be a convenient and flexible way to learn and gain qualifications, and they can work well for students who work or have families and other responsibilities. Studying online can also offer a greater choice of programs than at a local university. For people living in rural areas, online learning can offer opportunities for those who need a suitable education facility nearby.
Online study can be done at a convenient time rather than attending school at particular times in a set location. Students can submit homework and join discussions at times that suit them. This is helpful for people that are restricted by their work schedules. Online learning also means that the cost of fees and tuition is more affordable due to lower transportation and living costs.
Although students doing online programs might not meet fellow students in-person, they can connect and network online. With traditional programs, students live on campus or in accommodation in the city. However, online students can study from a wide range of places, bringing more diversity and flexibility. This diversity can lead to a multitude of perspectives and experiences being brought to the student group, which can be beneficial to everyone. Online programs expect students to work together, and there are learning platforms for doing this. Online services might include chat rooms for student interaction and for asking teachers questions. Students can interact with people countrywide and sometimes across the world. This allows students from various backgrounds to share challenges and experiences. Technical support is also usually readily available.
Online learning methods are diverse and include webcasts, simulation tools, podcasts, webcasts, learning content management systems, and podcasts. They might also include more traditional written assignments. The programs are interactive, and students can post their opinions and questions in online classrooms. Some students find this preferable to in-person study because it allows time and space to formulate any questions they might have, without the pressure and time constraints of an in-person seminar. This can be helpful to students who have moved to a different country for school, or anyone who uses English as a second language; these students may be apprehensive about speaking out loud or being discriminated against for their style of communication.
Students should always check for the appropriate accreditation which should come from the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Education facilities need expert course design and solid technology systems to deliver quality online learning. It is always a good idea to undertake research to find out which accreditation you need and whether the organization you are applying for requires certain things. You can speak to university administration teams, faculty members, or enrollment advisors to find out more about the specifications of the course.
There is a high demand for nursing staff, especially as the healthcare sector is evolving. There are continual changes in policy, advances in technology, and many other factors that can alter the needs and the requirements of those in the industry. Healthcare providers must keep up with new techniques and technologies and ensure staff are learning continuously to deliver quality patient care. Well qualified staff can be highly skilled and contribute to improved financial performance, quality patient care, fewer malpractice lawsuits, and excellent reputations. It can be difficult for healthcare staff to be released from work to attend course lectures and meetings. Online learning makes it easier for students to hold down their jobs, learn at a convenient time, and it opens the doors for multiple new opportunities.
What are some of the roles you can get into as a nurse?
- Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
The MSN provides the skills necessary to work in an advanced practice position. MSN programs usually take two to four years to complete and can be taken online.
The MSN program usually includes studying nursing education, healthcare systems and policies, advanced nursing practice, informatics, and research. There are specialized options that can prepare nurses, whatever their chosen career path. It is possible to do a general MSN and return later to do a specialty program. Specialty programs can prepare you for positions such as nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, and clinical nurse specialist.
Nurses who are currently working may find it preferable to study online. Lectures are recorded so they can be watched at a convenient time, fitting your study around your work commitments. Studying while working as a nurse can be beneficial as learning can be applied to work in the real world.
Having completed an MSN program, graduates will have the skills and knowledge to provide advanced patient care, be involved in developing healthcare policies, and work as educators and leaders in the nursing profession. They may also get certification in their specialty area which can bring improved job opportunities and professional recognition.
The MSN degree program can lead to advanced nursing roles. There are numerous roles available to MSN-qualified nurses, allowing nurses to use their qualifications to pursue a challenging and interesting career.
There are many possible progression paths for nurses; individuals can find careers that match their experience, skills, and aspirations. Here are just some of the pathways that can be taken.
- Nurse practitioner (NP)
An NP is an advanced practice registered nurse that has studied either an MSN or a DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) and gained NP licensure. NPs provide specialty and primary healthcare services. They have more authority than registered nurses and have similar responsibilities to a doctor. They usually focus on a particular group, such as children, families, or the elderly. NPs are trained to prescribe medications, order and interpret tests, and diagnose and treat illnesses. They educate their patients on disease prevention and promote services such as counseling, and health screenings. The majority of NPs are not supervised by doctors, although some are.
NPs provide patient care that is evidence-based and individualized, and they play an essential role in preventing chronic illness and promoting patient wellness. NPs work in numerous settings, such as clinics, hospitals, community health centers, and private practices. They work with other healthcare staff, such as doctors, to deliver comprehensive patient care. An NP’s responsibilities depend on their specialty.
In addition to being general nurse practitioners, NPs can specialize in working with a specific group. They must gain certification to work in the specialty area. There are many specialties for NPs; here are some examples:
- Acute Care
Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) provide patient care to people of diverse ages and backgrounds. FNPs provide healthcare to individuals and families throughout their lives, building strong relationships with their patients. This can be a rewarding role for those who enjoy building familiarity and trust between themselves and their patients.
Acute care nurse practitioners provide care to patients who are in acute care or hospital settings. Their specialty is working with adults with complex diseases. They see patients who are admitted to hospital after a trauma or surgical procedure.
Emergency nurse practitioners assess, diagnose, and manage illnesses and injuries that require immediate care. They decide which patients need urgent care, make decisions about treatment, oversee patient conditions, and provide education.
Pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) treat children from infancy through to adulthood. They see patients individually, offering care such as providing immunizations and check-ups, diagnosing illnesses, and treating chronic and acute conditions.
Psychiatric nurse practitioners focus on the mental health care of children, adults, families, and communities. They support patients with psychiatric illnesses and disorders and also help those with substance abuse problems.
An oncology nurse practitioner (ONP) provides all-round care to patients who have a cancer diagnosis. They work with other healthcare staff, such as doctors, to decide treatment plans for cancer patients.
An orthopedic nurse practitioner focuses on the treatment and care of patients with musculoskeletal difficulties. This can include injuries or disease to the connective tissue, bones, muscles, and joints.
In general, NPs deliver high-quality care to patients and aim to improve healthcare outcomes for communities. NPs play an essential role in making healthcare accessible, ensuring patients of all backgrounds receive the healthcare they need. NPs advocate for their patients by joining professional organizations and contributing to the development of health policies. NPs take a holistic approach to healthcare, focusing on health promotion, disease prevention, and education and counselling. They also encourage patients to make positive lifestyle decisions to improve their health.
Certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA)
CRNAs are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who work in hospital operating rooms, cardiac care units, surgical facilities, or intensive care units. They administer anesthetics and other medications. The minimum requirements for this role are a master’s degree that focuses on anesthesia, comprehensive clinical training, and passing the exam approved by the National Boards of Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists.
CRNAs care for patients having surgery due to trauma or other life-threatening events. They have specific duties which include assessing a patient’s response to anesthetics, identifying possible risks to the patient, such as allergies, administration of proper dosages, and the education of patients regarding the anesthesia process.
Some CRNAs work independently while some are supervised by doctors. While most surgery takes place during the day, emergency surgery can happen anytime, and CRNAs can sometimes work evenings, nights, and weekends.
CRNAs need to have sound judgment, critical thinking ability, and a high level of knowledge to make the correct choices for patients at critical times. Anesthesia and surgery needs strong teamwork, with patient safety imperative.
For those interested in a career in anesthesia, shadowing professional CRNAs who work in a variety of settings is helpful. These could be a busy city trauma center or a small provider in a rural area serving small communities. Another option would be working with a CRNA mentor. Working in critical care or ICU, including taking on some leadership responsibility, is excellent preparation for a career as a CRNA.
Clinical nurse specialist (CNS)
A CNS is an APRN who focuses on improving patient outcomes and educating other nurses. Like NPs, they specialize in particular patient populations. They deliver high-level patient care and can supervise healthcare teams. They must have an MSN with an added specialty, although some have doctorates. As well as helping and treating patients, a clinical nurse specialist also focuses on helping other nurses and improving process, structures, and practices in a healthcare setting. The day-to-day tasks of a CNS are to provide transitional care, educate patients and families and aid fellow healthcare staff. Clinical nurse specialists also often have a research role, contributing to and conducting research projects to improve nursing practice.
CNSs can take various certifications, depending on their chosen field. These include Adult Health, Public Health, Neonatal, Pediatric, Adult Health, and Adult-Gerontology.
Nurse Midwife (NM)
An NM is an APRN who focuses on women and the birthing process. They carry out prenatal visits, prepare women for and are present at births, and support women with post-natal care. They perform tests and health screenings, as well as provide training and education for parents on breastfeeding for new mothers and infant care. They also treat gynecological disorders, helping in cases of problems with fertility and sexually transmitted diseases.
NMs work in hospitals, health centers, private practices, and birthing centers. They work with other healthcare professionals, such as nurses and doctors, to provide all round care to patients. They can work autonomously, delivering care and making decisions without supervision. During births NMs supervise the mother and baby, evaluate progress, help with pain management, carry out episiotomies if required, and deliver the baby and placenta.
NMs gives individualized care which concentrates on women’s health. They build positive relationships with patients, work well in stressful situations, and provide unwavering support during challenging situations. They have a vital role in encouraging good health in birth and pregnancy and in increasing access to reproductive health services. They advocate for women’s health and work to educate and empower women. To become an NM, you can take a specific certification in nurse-midwifery.
For those who are considering nursing as a career there are many opportunities for employment and progression. There are various fields and specialties that nurses can choose from to become experts in their work. The development of streamlined online learning means training in such degrees as an ABSN is more accessible than ever before. Never has it been easier for healthcare students to choose a flexible and convenient educational program that suits their needs. Advances in technology have also enabled universities to create effective teaching platforms that deliver a quality learning experience. With the current shortage in nursing staff, numerous options for specialization, and improvements to online learning facilities, now is an ideal time to start a career in the nursing field.