By Josephine Reid
If you are an experienced nurse who is looking to go further with the career, there are a number of opportunities in advanced practice nursing you could pursue.
Advanced practice nurses fall into four categories: nurse practitioners (NPs), certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs), certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) and clinical nurse specialists (CNSes).
All require advanced education (typically leading to a master's degree) and clinical experience. After that, certification and state licensing requirements vary. So do salaries, which differ according to location, educational levels, and practice setting.
When providing bedside care loses its luster, working in a nonclinical specialty can renew your love for nursing and draw on your clinical experience.
Case managers choreograph all aspects of patient care, coordinating the nurses, doctors, therapists and other practitioners who treat patients. As hospitals discharge patients more quickly and managed-care organizations increasingly oversee patient care, the need for case managers has blossomed. The aging population is generating more opportunities in long-term care and home healthcare as well.
Clinical Nurse Educators
Clinical nurse educators help patients and their families understand the patient's condition prior to discharge, and they work in such outpatient areas as cardiac rehabilitation, diabetes education or childbirth preparation. Besides orienting and supervising new nurses, clinical nurse educators conduct in-service training for staff nurses.
Most clinical nurse educators possess at least a BSN as well as advanced clinical training in a specialty.
Other options include Chart Auditors (Financial chart auditors review patient charts after discharge to ensure appropriate documentation for proper billing and coding. Others work in quality management), Patient Advocates (Working on the customer-service front lines, patient advocates handle patient complaints) and Mentors or Preceptors (More and more hospitals are creating formal positions for experienced nurses to guide new nurses through that critical first year on the job).
If you possess a bachelor of science in nursing, you also have the option of careers such as a Surgical Nurse, Pediatric Nurse, ICU Nurse, Obstetric and Gynecological Nurse, or a Hospice Nurse, which are all high paying jobs, ranging from $60-75,000 with project percent increases by 2020.
With a successful completion of a two-year or four-year undergraduate degree program (Bachelor's) in nursing prepares graduates to sit for the NCLEX-RN examination and become licensed registered nurses (RNs). The job duties of an RN vary according to the kinds of patients they see and the clinical settings in which they work. Many RNs specialize in areas such as gerontology, neonatal, diabetes management, or a specific body system. Work environments for nurses can include hospitals, physicians' offices, and nursing homes.
A graduate degree, on the other hand, will gain you the chance to Graduate degree programs in nursing include Master of Science in Nursing, Doctor of Nursing Practice, and Ph.D. programs in a variety of specialties. Graduate degrees in nursing can allow a nurse to advance into a number of jobs, including nurse practitioner, certified clinical nurse specialist, certified nurse anesthetist, and certified nurse midwife.
A master's degree program can take 18 to 24 months to complete and often builds on the core foundational courses of a BSN degree program in order to prepare students for advanced practice (APRN) roles. These programs typically allow students to choose a concentration, like gerontology or acute care.