What Are The Opportunities For Advancement For A Nurse?

"I am currently taking up an associate degree in nursing and I expect to complete this after a year. I am definitely excited to start looking for a job as soon as I get my degree as caring for people comes naturally to me. I see myself getting old in this job but I don’t plan on working at an entry-level job all my life. I know that getting promoted means more distinction and higher pay and these are definitely incentives for me. I’m not sure if promotions do exist in the nursing career. I’d like to know: What are the opportunities for advancement for a nurse?"

asked by Dianna R. from San Francisco, California

A career as a nurse is one of the professions that one can grow old in without getting stale in one position because it provides numerous opportunities for advancement. Before outlining what these are, it’s important to understand that licensed graduates of a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing, associate’s degree in nursing and diploma holders of a nursing program are qualified to hold entry-level jobs in a healthcare facility as a staff nurse.

Some employers won’t hire nurses unless they have completed a bachelor’s degree. Nurses who graduated with an associate degree often find it worthwhile to go back to school so they can obtain their BSN degree.

Registered nurses generally start their careers as a staff nurse in hospitals or other healthcare facilities. They can get promoted to higher positions within the organization if they prove that they are good at what they do. Furthering their education will also increase chances for advancement.

Advancement opportunities for nurses can take place in many different areas. For starters, they can move up to higher management positions. A staff nurse can become an assistant unit manager and then become a unit manager or a head nurse. With exceptional performance and continued education, head nurses can get promoted to assistant director, director, vice president and ultimately as the hospital’s chief of nursing. This kind of advancement can take years as they generally require a postgraduate degree in nursing, health services administration or related fields.

The nursing profession is by going the clinical route and becoming an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). By pursuing further studies and certification as a nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife or nurse practitioner, nurses get the APRN designation which enables them to give specialty care to various populations. As APRNs, they can even prescribe medications. This form of advancement necessitates obtaining a master’s degree and eventually a Doctor of Nursing Practice or PhD degree.

Nurses with years of experience in a healthcare setting and postgraduate degrees can also choose to advance in the educational field. They can work as postsecondary teachers in nursing schools or nursing departments of colleges and universities and even get to head these programs.

Another form of advancement that nurses pursue is by establishing and managing their own ambulatory, nursing care or chronic care facilities. Experienced nurses with high educational qualifications can also work as consultants for hospitals, pharmaceutical firms, insurance firms and managed care companies.

Career Spotlight: Registered Nurse

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