Advancing your nursing career

An article I posted over at Scrubs Magazine. While the choices may seem endless and confusing, which path you choose can be a very simple decision.

So you want to advance your career?

I think I’ve said this before. One of the greatest things about our career is the unlimited supply of choices and opportunity. The path our career takes is only limited by ourselves and our desire to move forward.

So would you be the least bit surprised by the unlimited number of choices a nurse has when it comes to picking a direction for an advanced degree? No, of course not. Advancing your nursing education is not as simple as “I’m going on to get my Masters degree in Nursing.” You have to pick a path as an advanced degree nurse.

Here are just a few of those options:

  • Advanced Practice Nursing
    • Nurse Practitioner (Adult, Acute Care, Neonatal, Family)
    • Nurse Midwife
    • Nurse Anesthetist
  • Nurse Educator
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Nurse Manager (Nurse Leader)
  • Nursing Informatics
  • Masters in Nursing specialty in:
    • Acute care
    • Adult
    • Family
    • Geriatric
    • Neonatal
    • Palliative care
    • Pediatric
    • Psychiatric
    • Obstetrics and Gynecological

Now throw all that into a bowl and add a dash of PhD and/ or DNP (Doctorate of Nursing Practice) and you got yourself a confusing swirl of opportunities just waiting for the picking!

Yes. It seems overwhelming enough to cause a slight headache, but when you break it down into it’s most simple forms, you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

When I finished my BSN (I did an RN -to-BSN program) I knew I wanted to continue on and advance my degree. I just wasn’t quite sure which direction to choose? What if I choose wrong? What if I change my mind? What’s the best decision? What’s the most profitable? Which path takes the longest amount of time? Which path takes the shortest amount of time?

These questions and many others all have their relevance. They really do. The problem is, none of them are as important as this question:

Where do you see yourself practicing (in 5 years), where it would NOT be considered a job?

That’s really what ultimately guides you onto your next adventure. Of all those choices, which one could you do on a daily basis and not consider it your ‘job’? Where do you feel you make the most impact?

Let’s put it another way. In your current practice as a nurse – where are you most happy? And does that happiness elicit the most ‘effect’ to the patient’s you care for? For me, it’s always been Critical Care. I’ve felt the care I give at the bedside makes the most impact on my patients. I’m not meant to work in an office. I’m not meant to care for the ‘not well’. I’m meant to care for the critically ill. It’s where I am most happy. I love making the difference we make. I want to take that feeling and extend it. I want to expand my skills and knowledge. I want to advance my care where I know I’ll be happy, and where I know I believe I’m needed.

One final thought on those myriad of choices you can make when considering an advanced degree. I would HIGHLY recommend you ‘shadow’ someone already doing the job. I remember shadowing a CRNA when I was trying to make my decision on advancing my career. I small part of me wondered if being a Nurse Anesthetist is something I want to do. After shadowing the CRNA I realized that it wasn’t something for me.

In the end, the choice to advance your career is all about you. Don’t let the naysayers or the recruiters try and sway your choices. As a nurse, we tend to deliver our care from our hearts. Let your heart help you make this decision.

So you want to advance your career? | Scrubs Magazine


6 thoughts on “Advancing your nursing career

  1. As a CRNA Director for a major hospital the current educational opportunities for Nurse Anesthetists are at an all time high. The shortage of nurses has lead to a great demand in this unique medical field. The future looks very promising for students who make the wise decision in advancing into the field of anesthesia.

  2. I love nursing. There are so many options and I’ve barely started into mine. Proud to be counted as an RN, although I’m still an under experienced one at this point. Thanks for being a role model Sean! Great to have people to look up to throughout my journey.

    1. Wow, Rob. Thank you for the kind words!! And I’m so glad to have a quality individual like yourself taking the lead in our profession. Well done, and keep it up!

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