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How to Plan Your Nursing Career

Nursing is an excellent career choice. You can customize it to suit your personal interests, and with so many wonderful places to work, you can truly go anywhere. This includes things like movie sets, schools, or even on boats as you go off to see far-off places. Movie crews and research crews need health care and nurses on board to help keep everyone safe, and doctors are not the only people brought on to provide that safety net.

Most nurses work in hospitals, but they can also open up their own clinics, work privately, or work in cutting-edge research institutions. Your options are massive because wherever there are people, there is a need for you and your work.

Work your way up, and you can easily earn six figures as well. APRNs are very well paid, and unlike doctors, you can work while you move your way up the career ladder. Most nursing degrees are now offered online, with only clinical hours taking place in person. What’s more, you can continue to customize and further your career with a post-master’s certificate.

There are so many options, but to keep your efforts streamlined, you will want to come up with a game plan from the moment you decide to become a nurse.

The Degrees and Education You’ll Need to Progress

Nursing is one of those careers that demands you have formal qualifications. This is by law, and you will not be able to advance without them.


There are many stepping stones you can take before your BSN. If you want to get started right away, you can work to become a certified nursing assistant and then a licensed nursing practitioner. Or you can earn your BSN and become an RN right off the bat. A BSN is going to be the first major degree that you have to overcome in every situation, and that includes if you opted for the Associate’s Degree in Nursing instead to become a BSN. This is because to earn your MSN, you first need a BSN under your belt.


Your BSN will allow you to become an RN that is ready to move on up with an MSN. Your MSN will make you ready to become an APRN, but there are many different options available to you. It’s a good idea to take the time to explore your options before committing to your MSN, just so that you can save time and energy later. That being said, don’t put too much effort because there are ways to tweak and alter your career later on.

Doctorate of Nursing

You can also earn a doctorate in nursing. The most common of them all is the DNP of Doctorate of Nursing Practice. Though there are not any new roles or levels of nursing that you can reach with a DNP, it can help you negotiate higher salaries and get hired into positions like Head of Nursing or Chief of Nursing at your hospital.

Nursing Certificate

Earning a doctorate in nursing is not the only way that you can progress your career, especially if you want to do something different. If you wanted to move into psychiatric/mental health, or alternatively, into adult-gerontology primary care, under normal circumstances, you could not just apply for those roles without the qualifications. Thankfully you don’t need to earn another MSN to do so. Instead, you can take a post-master’s certificate nurse practitioner online. This will help you earn the credentials you need fast (in as little as three to five semesters) and is far more cost-effective.

Figuring Out Where You Want to Work

There may be four types of APRNs, but there are many, many different roles you can actually apply for. Even Nurse Practitioners have a wide range of roles available to them. The specialization can be in regards to the area of medicine you specialize in, or the demographic (typically divided by sex or age).

Many degrees require at least a year or more of work experience before they allow you to progress. Use this time to explore your options at the hospital. Get in touch with other nurses in different departments, see if you can shadow, and just generally get a better insider’s understanding of what every role is, what it entails, and whether or not it is a good fit for you.

It’s also a good idea to look outside of your hospital. Sometimes you may love the idea of a role but find it’s too much in a hospital. Look outside of the hospital, however, and you may find your perfect fit.


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