The American Nurses Association defines nursing as the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities, and populations.

From this definition, it’s not difficult to deduce that a lot relies on the gentle shoulders of nurses when it comes to the delivery of healthcare and that nurses are perhaps the most important constituent of any healthcare unit. The proof of the vital role they play in any healthcare setting lies in the fact that Registered Nurses (RNs) form the largest healthcare occupation.

If you are at the crossroads of making a decision on which career path to follow, then the timing could not be better to enter the field of nursing. Keeping aside the fact that it is one of the most fulfilling professions, Registered Nurses these days also enjoy excellent job opportunities and enormous benefits.



Routes to Become an RN

So, how does one enter this challenging profession? The minimum qualification for entry level Registered Nurse positions is a two-year Associate Degree in Nursing or diploma from an approved nursing program along with a license that all nursing graduates must have to practice as RNs. Graduates can apply for and obtain this license after passing the licensing examination called the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

However, the growth opportunities are often limited for RNs who have an ADN or a diploma. Therefore, many RNs with these qualifications go back to school during their career to get a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree for advancement.

A BSN program generally requires four years of coursework and it not only imparts knowledge of advanced nursing concepts, but also trains students in non-clinical aspects of healthcare such as communication skills, leadership qualities, and critical thinking ability. A bachelor’s degree is often necessary for administrative positions. A BSN program may also be necessary for RNs who want to branch out into teaching, consulting, or research.

Advancement Opportunities

Registered Nurses interested in management roles or looking to become advanced practice nurses need at least a Master’s in Nursing degree.

According to ANA, an advanced practice registered nurse is someone who has met the advanced education and clinical practice requirements. The four types of advanced practice nurses are clinical nurses, nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, and nurse-midwives – all providing care to patients in their own specialized sphere.

As far as management is concerned, RNs can advance from the role of a head nurse to more senior positions of assistant director, director, vice president, or chief of nursing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, management-level nursing positions increasingly require RNs to have a graduate degree.

But the important question is how do practicing nurses advance their careers without giving up their jobs. The solution is simple – MSN online programs. With many employers offering flexible schedules and benefits such as tuition reimbursement, it’s become a lot easier for practicing nurses to realize their dream of getting a higher education and move up the corporate ladder.

Tami U is syndicated by EzineArticles