When people hear that you are a nurse, they may say, “Well, you’ll always have a job, then.” And they are mostly right. As a nurse, you have more career opportunities than most professionals.The demand for your services is high and looks to remain so for many years. Registered nurses alone are looking at a 12% rate of growth between 2018 and 2028, a much higher rate than most other professions. In fact, the outlook for all types of nurses is high. That positive statistic is not the only good news. You are easily able to further your career after you’ve become a nurse by being proactive in your approach. The following are five ways to take your career to the next level.
You improve your career standing when you join professional organizations such as the American Nurses Association (ANA), the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) or the National League of Nursing (NLN). By doing so, you’ll keep up on the latest trends and methods in your profession while making invaluable contacts. Plus, you can attend conferences associated with these organizations and benefit from networking with other nurses, thought leaders and administrators. These connections will often lead to new, exciting job opportunities while ensuring that you keep your skills sharp.
By volunteering, you can serve needy populations while enhancing your resume.You can help out close to home by offering your services to area nursing homes or assisted living facilities. While you won’t be allowed to perform medical services, you can assist with outings and by communicating with residents.
You can use your medical training at homeless shelters, for the Red Cross or through the Medical Reserve Corps. Some volunteering opportunities will take you to foreign lands. You’ll gain experience and provide a valuable service at the same time.
A mentor can help you navigate through each phase of your career. Often, a mentor can give you opportunities for advancement that you wouldn’t have access to otherwise.
Finding a mentor can be a challenge since these professionals have busy lives. You have to prove yourself a hard-worker, willing student and practicing nurse. You may find a mentor among your college professors, in hospital administration or through your professional organizations. Be on the lookout for someone willing to help you along the way and then be appreciative of their assistance.
As a nurse, you have a number of options for continuing education. Most states require that you complete some continuing education courses every few years, but you can certainly go beyond the minimum. You may seek an advanced nursing degree, such as a Masters of Science in Nursing. Pursuing a MSN allows you to specialize in areas such as midwifery, gerontology and orthopedics. You may decide to become a family nurse practitioner or nurse anesthetist. Taking advantage of these opportunities means more money, more job options and more job security.
You don’t have to pursue an advanced degree to improve your skills and career options. You can opt for additional certification in high-demand areas that require experience and knowledge. Registered nurses with a minimum of two years experience working with HIV/AIDS patients can apply to take the AIDS certified registered nurse exam. If you are approved, you must pass an intensive exam to win the ACRN designation.
You could also become a certified pediatric nurse, a designation open to those with an associate, bachelor’s or master’s degree. You may apply to take the test if you have 1800 pediatric clinical hours in the previous two years or 3,000 hours in the past five years (with 1,000 hours in the past two years). If approved, you need to take and pass a three-hour exam to earn certification.
Wound Care Nurse
The need for wound care is growing, largely due to what the World Health Organization calls a global diabetes epidemic. Millions of patients struggle with wounds that fail to heal and that too often lead to amputation and sometimes death. Experienced wound care nurses are in high demand due to this healthcare crisis.
A wound care nurse is an expert in pressure ulcers, ostomies and other injuries to the skin.You can seek a number of certifications in the area, The Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing Board offers several of these certifications. To earn one, you must hold a valid RN license, have a BSN or higher nursing degree and have 1500 direct patient clinical hours in the previous five years (375 in the previous year).
You can also seek certification from the National Alliance of Wound Care and Ostomy, which requires a certain level of experience and completion of an exam. The American Board of Wound Management and the American Board of Wound Healing also offer certification processes.
Nurses with wound care certification ensure that they have many job options simply because their specialty is in such current demand. You can find work at hospitals, clinics and nursing homes or provide much-needed in-home care. These opportunities are not just based in the US. Wound care experts are needed worldwide. In addition to field experience, there are several online wound care certification courses that can both instruct and award continuing education credits (CNEs) to students and working nurses alike.
The nursing field is rich with opportunity, no matter what level of degree you have. Your biggest challenge is deciding how to take advantage of all the options open to you. Joining professional organizations, finding a mentor and volunteering are all excellent ways to improve your knowledge and skill set while networking. You’ll build your resume and make yourself more appealing to employers.
Continuing education is always beneficial. You may decide to pursue an advanced degree. Earning a MSN makes you a hot prospect for hundreds of jobs in the US and abroad. You don’t have to earn another degree to advance, however, You can choose to seek certification instead. Many of these certifications don’t require an advanced degree but make you an expert in areas such as oncology or wound care. As a nurse, you have few limits on what you can achieve if you actively seek to further your career.