Within the nursing profession, there are a wide variety of career paths. Some choose to provide patient care throughout their careers, while others choose to obtain advanced certifications or degrees. With so many options, how do you choose what is right for you? Begin your search by asking yourself the following questions.
By Erin Wever
When I crossed the stage to receive my diploma in nursing, a world of possibilities opened to me. Nursing is a rapidly growing profession, with a wide array of career opportunities.
Is there a specific patient population, body system or acuity that interests me?
Most patient care areas are divided into age groups. The easiest way to determine the best fit for you is to consider your preference. Many nurses choose pediatric nursing because they enjoy working with children. Would you prefer to work with the elderly? Consider working in geriatrics, either in a hospital or a long term care facility.
Many units provide care to patients who have disorders of a particular body system. If you are interested in caring for patients with cardiac disorders, consider working on a telemetry unit, coronary care unit or a cardiovascular unit. Did you enjoy your psychology classes in college? Perhaps mental health nursing would be a good fit for you.
Patient acuity refers to the severity of illness. If you would prefer a lower acuity, consider working in home health care, where the patients are well enough to continue their recovery at home. If you are interested in higher acuity, consider critical care.
Do I want to get an advanced degree?
There are many opportunities for a nurse with a Master’s degree or PhD. The challenge is determining what you would want to specialize in. If you want to provide education to staff nurses or students, you can become a Nurse Educator. A Nurse Anesthetist is a Master’s prepared nurse who provides anesthesia to patients during surgery, under the direction of an anesthesiologist. A Nurse Practitioner can open their own practice to provide care for specific patient populations. If you are interested in leadership, consider becoming a Nurse Administrator.
What other certifications are available?
There are many specializations that require certification rather than obtaining an advanced degree. A Nurse Informaticist finds way to integrate advanced technology and patient care. A Legal Nurse Consultant consults with attorneys and clients about medical matters. A Forensic Nurse assists with criminal investigations while providing emotional support to victims of a crime. Furthermore, there is a growing population of nurse entrepreneurs who are utilizing their experience to create new business opportunities.
Nursing is a dynamic profession with a wide variety of career opportunities
It is important to consider your goals and interests to find the career path that is best for you. Do the research. Talk to people who are in a specialization that interests you. Consider job shadowing to learn what specializations would fit your interests and needs. With careful consideration and research, you can find a fun and fulfilling career in the specialization of your choice.
Top Nursing Careers
Advanced Practice Career Options (APRN)
- Nurse Midwife
- Nurse Anesthetist
- Clinical Nurse Specialist
- Critical Care
- Child and Family Health
- Community Health
- Adult Health