How Registered Nurses Can Advance Their Careers

Nursing, a career in high demand across many areas of the country, requires a sense of compassion and a bachelor’s degree. While some registered nurses are satisfied with their work and have no desire to work as an advanced nurse, others consider furthering their education, and seeking an advanced nursing career. The options for advancing your nursing career, both through education and career paths, are numerous, making it challenging to make the right choices for your career.

What Are Your Options In Advanced Nursing?

Before entering an advanced nursing degree program, it is important to evaluate your career options to ensure you are making the right choice. An advanced nursing degree beyond a bachelor’s degree opens many doors for registered nurses. While some registered nurses already specialize in a particular area, an advanced nursing degree narrows your specialties and allows you to mold your career into a specific area of medicine. Registered nurse specialties do not offer the same advantages as an advanced degree. As you consider your options for an advanced nursing degree, you must research the career options that as a result will become available to you. Nurses who hold an advanced degree can choose from areas, such as:
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
  • Advanced Nurse Practitioner
  • Certified Nurse Specialist
  • Nurse Attorney
  • Nurse Researcher
  • Certified Nurse Midwife
Nurses who choose to become certified nurse specialists can select just about any medical specialization, including hematology, managed care, occupational health, pain management and psychiatry. This allows each nurse to choose an area that best appeals to his or her interests.

Why Consider A Specialty Advanced Degree?

Employers are typically interested in hiring someone who is success driven and eager to advance. When you complete a specialty advanced degree, you increase your marketability, making you a more appealing candidate. In addition, you increase your earning potential and become a more valuable employee, improving your chances for future promotions.

Choosing Your Specialty

Some nurses seek out specialties that offer the highest rate of pay. When choosing your specialty, however, it is also important to look at your unique interests and then use those interests to determine the best specialty for your ideal nursing career. For instance, if you are interested in helping women, before, during and after the birth of a child, becoming a certified nurse midwife is likely the best option for you. Working with a career counselor, particularly one at a nursing school, will help you evaluate your strengths, weaknesses, and interests to find the perfect advanced nursing career so you can provide the best quality of care to your patients.

The Path To An Advanced Nursing Career

Once you know where you want your advanced nursing career path to lead, you must determine how to get there. The first step in the process is to choose a graduate school that offers an advanced nursing program. Before you choose a school, you should ask the following questions:
  • What are the prerequisites for the program, including GPA and GRE scores?
  • How long is the program and is it available full or part time?
  • Does the school offer online options?
  • What options does the school offer for financial aid?
  • What is the experience of the faculty?
  • Are there field experiences available?
  • Is the school accredited by the proper organizations?
  • Do they offer job placement assistance programs?
Registered nurses who wish to earn a master’s degree in nursing can expect to spend two to three years finishing the advanced nursing program. A doctorate typically takes three to four years to complete. The length of time to complete the program will vary depending on the school you choose, as well as your course load and other factors. According to, advanced nursing degrees cost between $76,808 and $89,243, plus the cost of books and other fees. Most schools offer financial assistance through a variety of methods to help with these costs. If you are considering an advanced nursing degree to advance beyond a registered nurse, you have plenty of options. Weight all the factors to make the best choice to advance your career and meet your goals.
This article was written by Inbound Marketing Coordinator Tiana Tucker on behalf of CAREEREALISM-Approved Partner, 2U – education-technology company that partners with higher education institutions such as Simmons College School of Nursing and Health Sciences to deliver their Master of Science in Nursing degree for aspiring Family Nurse Practitioners.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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