Making big career decisions can be daunting. Some decisions can just test the limits of your comfort zone, while others can push you headfirst into uncharted territory. But, at the end of the day, these decisions are unavoidable. They’re like stepping stones to help you climb the career ladder, especially in a field as dynamic as nursing. And if you’re a nurse, one thing is certain. There’s no better time than now to maximize your career potential.
Why? Because the demand for nurses is at an all-time high, and opportunities for career growth are up there too! Choosing an advanced nursing degree at this particular time in history can give your career a tremendous boost. But while advanced nursing education can open the doors to exciting new opportunities, it also comes with its fair share of challenges. Whatever advanced nursing degree you’re considering, it’s important to choose the right one for your unique goals and lifestyle. To help you get on the path to your rewarding future as a healthcare hero, we’ve got some tips to help make that choice a little easier. Let’s take it one step at a time.
Look at the bigger picture
The first step to choosing the right nursing degree is to have a clear picture of your career goals. If you’re a nurse at the crossroads of advanced nursing education, you’ll have a number of paths in front of you. Do you see yourself as a specialized nurse, a nurse administrator, a research nurse? Consider the different duties of each role you’re contemplating and picture yourself performing them on a regular basis. Which feels right? After all, the possibilities are endless! But, having a clear understanding of your own personality and your skill set can help you narrow down your options and make the right decision for your life.
Do your research
Now that you know where you’re headed, you can map out a plan. This is the time to do your research about the nursing degrees that might be available to you. If getting your advanced training via traditional methods sound too cumbersome, there are alternatives like online nursing courses, accelerated programs, and bridge programs. Make sure your choice is well aligned with your long-term goals. For instance, if you want to specialize in an area with clinical expertise, you can opt for a program that has more clinical components vs theoretical knowledge. Also, make sure the degree you choose is accredited by the appropriate accrediting body. This not only ensures the quality of education but can also impact your future job prospects.
Consider your convenience too
Advanced nursing courses are stressful no matter what your lifestyle is. So, think carefully about what will be the most convenient for your lifestyle. For instance, if you’re working full time, you might need a more flexible mode of instruction. That might make an online nursing degree program or even a hybrid nursing course more appealing. Juggling work, school and life at the same time can become very overwhelming, but with proper planning and time management you can flourish in all three!
Plan your finances
Getting your advanced education in nursing will have costs. Be sure to research the costs of the programs you’re considering and reach out to the financial aid department to find out what type of assistance you might qualify for. There are grants, guaranteed loan programs, scholarships, and other options for paying for your education. But to hit the ground running, do your research and know what to expect in terms of financing your future. Also consider any ‘hidden’ costs like your personal expenses, commute or even additional educational resources.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Get all the facts up front by asking the right questions to the right people. Reach out to nursing professionals currently working in the field and ask about their experiences and career outcomes. You can also reach out to students and alumni of specific programs to understand how certain courses have impacted their careers. This can also give you tons of networking opportunities which can boost career growth in the long run.
Do you really need advanced nursing education?
Advanced nursing courses can help you expand your existing skill set and take your career to new heights. But the benefits are both tangible and intangible. They also offer:
- Autonomy: Advanced practice nurses have greater and can often treat and diagnose patients like a physician. They can also sometimes prescribe medications. These additional duties can not only increase your potential job opportunities, they can also boost your salary.
- Continuous learning: Nursing is a dynamic field and continuous learning is the only way to keep up. By opting for advanced nursing education, you get stay in the loop about latest nursing trends.
- Personal growth: A fulfilling career equals personal satisfaction. As you navigate more challenges successfully, your expertise grows. With newfound confidence, you can now challenge yourself to move further ahead, both on the professional and the personal front.
- Contribution to the community: The medical community is constantly evolving. As more nurses pursue advanced nursing courses, they contribute to the existing pool of knowledge, even if they don’t actively go into research. Advanced practice nursing offers more opportunities of interdisciplinary collaboration while maintaining first hand communication with patients. This can help nurses achieve better patient care outcomes.
Yes, returning to school might feel daunting, but the rewards far outweigh the challenges. With the right degree in hand, you’re not just advancing your career; you’re shaping the future of healthcare. So, gear up, because the time to climb the nursing career ladder is now!
If you’d like to learn more about nursing programs in your area, please visit: Highly regarded colleges for nursing in America