If you’re a registered nurse (RN), you are likely already aware of the various options available to you when it comes to your career. But if you are looking to move up to the next level in nursing or are interested in a specialized role, there are even more opportunities available for those who obtain an advanced nursing degree such as an MSN or DNP. And with more and more nursing schools now offering advanced nursing degree programs online, meeting your career goals and fulfilling your dreams of moving up the career ladder is easier than ever before.
Nurses can now study from home to get an advanced degree without being required to take time off work or rearrange their schedules to fit everything in. If you’re considering getting an advanced nursing degree but aren’t sure where you would like it to take your career, consider one of these specialties.
With a DNP in nursing, you can go on to become a nurse practitioner and specialize in treating a certain population. Generally, nurse practitioners will focus on family, pediatric, adult-gerontology, neonatal, or psychiatric mental health. Nurse practitioners typically enjoy a wider scope of practice and a higher level of autonomy compared to registered nurses, which differs across different states. In some states, nurse practitioners are authorized to run their own practice, diagnose conditions, and prescribe medication and treatment without the need for the supervision of a primary care physician. In other states, nurse practitioners still have a lot of responsibility and autonomy but need to work in collaboration with a doctor.
Critical Care Nurse
Critical care nurses are tasked with caring for patients suffering from life-threatening illnesses or injuries. These nurses are often found in hospitals and ICU departments; however, they are needed anywhere in the healthcare system where patients might be in a life-threatening situation. This could include anywhere that patients are in need of high-intensity interventions, a high level of continuous nursing care, or complex assessment and therapies.
Clinical Nurse Leader
A clinical nurse leader is an advanced nurse who brings a very high level of knowledge and clinical competence to the delivery of care. Clinical nurse leaders typically work with a specific set of patients that they have been assigned to oversee their care as the leader of a professional team. Clinical nurse leaders are required to regularly keep on top of the latest innovations in care delivery, putting evidence-based practice into action to ensure that patients are provided the highest level of care.
Certified Nurse Midwife
A certified nurse-midwife is an advanced practice nurse who specializes in women’s health. Typically, nurse-midwives provide care throughout pregnancy, labor, delivery, and the postpartum period. They are also involved in several aspects of primary and reproductive care for women. There are various settings where nurse-midwives work. The most common is in a hospital setting on labor and delivery wards, but many also work in doctor’s offices and within the community.
A nurse manager is responsible for overseeing the clinical operation of the patient care unit and facilitating the work of the healthcare professionals who provide direct care to the patient. This role is focused on assuring that the highest standards and quality of patient care is delivered. Nurse managers are often some of the most vocal advocates for their patients since they are tasked with representing the needs of their unit to relevant stakeholders.
If you are interested in influencing the next generation of nurses, it’s worth considering becoming a nurse educator. With an advanced degree such as a DNP program, you will be able to teach in formal academic settings to help prepare undergraduate students to become nurses or teach professional nurses who are getting an advanced degree. Nursing educators also work in healthcare settings such as hospitals where they focus on improving professional development and ensuring the continued competency of nurses and other healthcare professionals.
Clinical Trial Nurse
If you are interested in being at the forefront of cutting-edge medical research, you may want to consider taking your career in the direction of clinical trials. Clinical trials are large research studies that are designed to prove the safety and efficacy of various new health strategies and treatments such as protocols, medication, and devices. Clinical trial nurses are tasked with coordinating the research, protecting study participants, and ensuring data integrity. As a clinical trial nurse, you may also be tasked with providing direct care to participants when needed.
While nursing is first and foremost a caring profession, there are also plenty of opportunities for the more management-minded nurse. Nurse executives are leaders at the senior level who are highly influential in shaping the clinical practice in their organization. They define strategic visions for success and work collaboratively across the whole organization to ensure a high level of quality patient care and the satisfaction of both employees and patients. To become a nurse executive, you will need extensive experience with direct patient care along with management experience and skills in financial, human resource, and operational management.
This role is a fairly new one in the healthcare industry and is designed to focus on improving the safety, quality, and cost-effectiveness of professional patient care. Care coordinators are nurses who are tasked with ensuring that the right type of care is being delivered to the patient at the right time. They are often in charge of managing any transitions of care, such as when a patient is transferred to a different clinic or hospital and ensuring that this is done while avoiding any gaps in the treatment plan. As a care coordinator, you will be working in collaboration with providers, patients, equipment providers, insurance companies, and various other organizations to ensure that the care your patients receive is well-organized and runs smoothly.
Today, the opportunities for nurses who obtain an advanced qualification are endless. If you want to improve your career in nursing, these are just some of the many pathways available for nurses with an MSN or DNP.