Nursing is a choice of career that is well-known for being one of the most rewarding and caring types of work. Whether you’re just starting out and considering getting your degree in nursing or are already working in the healthcare industry and want to advance your nursing career, you’ll be glad to hear that there are several options available when it comes to levelling up. Whether you want to specialize in a certain area of healthcare, go into management and leadership or become a nurse practitioner, there are lots of different study options to consider that are designed to help you get to where you want to be as a nurse. Here are some of the main things to consider if you want to move up the ladder with your nursing career.
Deciding What to Study
Finding the right degree program for your career goals is an important step in advancing your nursing career. Consider your current qualifications and education, how you would prefer to study and where you want your qualification to eventually take you in the industry. If you currently have a bachelor’s of science in nursing, the MSN is an ideal choice of degree, allowing you to specialize in various different areas of nursing including pediatrics and mental health. With an MSN, you can also get the required certification and licensing to become a nurse practitioner. If you already have an MSN or are considering the next steps to take after graduating from your master’s degree program, a DNP such as the AGACNP programs from Baylor University can be an ideal choice.
Method of Study
With all nursing degrees, you can now study online at certain universities, which is often a much more convenient choice for nurses who need an option to fit it around work and other commitments. Deciding whether you would like to study online or prefer going to traditional classroom lectures and lessons is another factor to carefully consider before deciding on the right college and program for you. For many nurses who want to continue working full-time while advancing their career with a master’s degree or doctorate, studying online is the best option since it allows you to save money and get your degree in a way that is more tailored to you.
While a master’s degree in nursing or a doctorate will qualify you to work in a range of different nursing specialty areas, it’s always good to have an idea of what your future goals are, as this might impact the choices that you make when it comes to elective modules or work placements. When choosing the right specialty for you to pursue, the best place to start is often by thinking about what you enjoy most about your work as a nurse. Consider the part of the job that you don’t enjoy that much and would rather avoid, too – making a list of your must-haves and nice-to-haves in a future nursing role will help you choose a specialty area that is a good fit.
Preparing for Your Advanced Degree Program
Whether you’ve decided to get your advanced nursing degree online or in a more traditional classroom setting, it’s important to be as well-prepared as possible before you get started. Most of the time, nurses who want to advance their career will need to juggle work and study at the same time in order to graduate with the qualification that they need. Flexible online degree programs have made it easier than ever to fit working around studying, but it’s still a big workload that you will need to be ready for. It’s a good idea to go through your current schedule so you can easily see where you might be able to fit studying in, and come up with a study schedule that you can stick to that will work for you. It’s also a good idea to get as much support as you can as early as possible, whether that’s from family and friends or your employer.
Get Employer Support
With a huge shortage of primary care and advanced nurses in the US right now, it’s becoming more and more common for healthcare employers to offer financial support for nurses who want to get an additional qualification. If the role that you want to get into is in high demand in your current place of work, then it may be reasonable to ask your employer to cover some or even all of the cost of tuition. In addition to financial support, your employer may also be able to offer some more practical support such as changing your hours to times that are more convenient for you while studying. It’s also worth finding out if your employer is partnered with any colleges or nursing schools where you might be able to study the degree with additional benefits for employees.
Set Achievable Goals
Getting a master’s or doctorate degree while you are working full-time as a nurse is no easy task, and with a large workload involved in getting an advanced degree, it can easily become overwhelming. Setting small and more achievable goals is the best way to approach the journey towards leveling up your nursing career and getting into the specialty area that you have chosen. Many nurses who study while working full-time find that it can be helpful to set smaller daily, weekly or monthly goals rather than simply looking towards the end of the degree program, as this enables them to break up the workload into smaller and more manageable chunks of work.
Leveling up your nursing career has become easier than ever with a range of online advanced degree programs to choose from. With the right preparation, you can work in a variety of different nursing specialty areas or qualify to start your own practice as a nurse practitioner in a range of different areas including family practice, mental health, pediatrics and more. With a DNP, you can work as a nurse educator or in senior nurse management along with many other advanced nursing roles.