Nurses are incredibly selfless individuals who work diligently to keep you healthy and happy. They are empathetic and can work in a number of different fields, whether that means working with kids, cancer patients, geriatric patients, or in the emergency room. These healthcare heroes are the backbone of modern medicine and represent a huge number of the population of medical professionals. If you have an interest in healthcare and want to begin a career as a nurse, there are a few different options and paths you can take to make that dream a reality.
Becoming a nurse takes intense work and dedication to your craft. With so many different areas to chose from, you’ll also want to have a strong idea of what specialty you’re most interested in. Starting your career can be an exciting first step whether you’re fresh out of college or switching careers later in life. There are also so many different opportunities for growth and advancement within the nursing field. You will need a few things before you can officially start practicing. Time to brush up on your knowledge and get ready to learn a lot about the medical field. Let’s take a look at the steps you need to be taking to officially begin your career as a nurse.
Understand the healthcare market.
You can’t focus on becoming a nurse without looking at the healthcare field overall. Especially in a world where health insurance and advanced practice can be complicated and confusing. Before you jump into your official training, it can be incredibly beneficial to do some background research on different health plans and administrators. Do your research and compare how different private plans measure up to Medicare or Medicaid. Know if you want to offer specialty care and what kind of treatment you’ll be able to provide within your nursing career. The rules and regulations of insurance can be complicated, and it will help your leadership role as a nurse to understand the different options available to your patients.
Decide on your niche within nursing.
Before you can officially dive into your studies to become a registered nurse, you want to find your niche and the career path that speaks to you. Nurses are needed all over the world in so many different capacities. Do some soul searching to figure out what specialty you’d like to work with. If you love kids, maybe you want to work as a clinician in pediatrics. If you like high-tension environments, working as a clinical nurse specialist in an ER may be the place for you. If pregnancy and women’s health interest you, you can work as a nurse midwife. The beauty of all these areas is how they continue to grow and expand in new and exciting ways. Just like the ways in which the development of a wireless ultrasound will help you interact with new moms in new ways, your career as a nurse midwife will evolve over the years. This technology, like so many other pieces of equipment, is all about looking toward the future and helping your point of care be the best it can be.
Get your nursing degree.
Once you’ve established where you want to go with your nursing career, it’s time to get the necessary education. You’ll need a degree in nursing to practice patient care in a clinical setting. There are many different options available to you. You can attend community college and get a nursing diploma or associate’s degree in nursing (ADN). You can attend a four-year college and get your bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). You can even go further and get a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctoral degree.
Depending on your ultimate goal, you will need a specific level of education. If you want to work as a clinical nurse in different specialties, chances are you’ll only need a BSN. However, if you’d like more job responsibilities and extra abilities, you may want to look into getting your MSN degree. This allows you to become an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) like a nurse practitioner or focus on areas of research. Not only will you have more power within the health care field, but the masters science nursing salary is usually higher than a BSN nurse would make. Depending on your ultimate career and financial goals, getting that extra degree may be a good idea for you.
Get your official certifications.
Spending time in classes and clinical practice is one thing, but you’re not quite yet ready to practice after you graduate with your degree. You still need to pass your tests and become officially certified. Your certification will depend on your degree and area of practice. You can be a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Registered Nurse (RN), or Nurse Practitioner (NP) depending on your level of education and specialty. Once you’ve sat for these tests, you are ready to practice nursing and start making a difference in the lives of your patients and their families.