If you’re thinking about becoming a nurse, the most common place to work as one is often a hospital. However, looking back throughout your childhood, you’ll probably remember that nurses pop up everywhere – from your school to your local doctor’s office. The truth is nurses work in many different settings due to the variety within their jobs, and some you might not even realize just how many other places they operate.
The diversity of this job role makes it a great choice for anyone looking for variation and a mix of daily situations. No two days are the same as a nurse; you could be treating wounds in one clinic and administering medication the next. There’s also the option of specializing in different areas of nursing, for example, neonatal nursing or providing nursing care to older adults.
In the beginning, finding your first job after graduation is an exciting time, and the beauty of this profession is that you don’t have to know exactly where you want to head straight away. Plus, whatever nursing field you choose, there is a wealth of opportunities in both the public and private sectors. So, what’s the next step once you’ve got your degree and have a license to practice?
Gaining experience in general nursing is a great start to your career. This gives you a wider view of the type of work you’ll be doing each day while providing room to specialize later in your career as a nurse. If you had a preference during your clinic training, then moving into a job that suits this is also a rewarding step.
Thinking About Specializations
Recent statistics from the BLS suggest the sector is projected to grow 9% between 2020 and 2030, so there’s plenty of scope to get the opportunities you feel passionate about within the nursing sector.
Still, even if you don’t yet know which area of nursing you want to go into, there’s no need to worry; it’s something you can decide as you work and grow into the profession, wherein you can discover your desired specialization and pursue it at any time.
Whether you know the nursing area you’re interested in yet or not, the following sections should give you a helpful overview that’ll help you make smarter choices down the line – be it today, a few months from now, or even years away.
The Places Nurses Work
Over the past few decades, a hospital has been the most common place to find a nursing job. While this is still a prominent setting for an aspiring nurse, there are many other places where you could start a career.
For example, psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals employ many staff members for nursing positions. There’s also a rise in people looking for home healthcare nurses to assist in day-to-day medical needs.
The working environment for nurses has become more diverse over the past few years, and there’s always a call for skilled individuals looking to start or continue their careers in this area.
The Future of the Nursing Sector
The medical field is growing rapidly, and the demand for experienced nursing staff is increasing with it. In addition, the importance of nursing is evident due to recent worldwide events, as the pandemic demanded more nursing staff to deal with the influx of patients.
While this is still prevalent, the sector is pushing in other directions, including specialist care. In short, anyone holding a nursing degree has the opportunity to move in many directions throughout their career, with plenty of rewarding jobs on the table for those with the right qualifications.
The Qualifications and Training Required for Nursing Positions
If you choose a career in nursing, there is no lack of opportunity once you’re qualified. However, to enter the medical profession, individuals need at least an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing, which can take two to four years to complete. During this time, you’ll also need relevant clinical experience to back up your learned skills and knowledge; this element puts everything you learn into practice in real-world scenarios.
Once qualified, the next step is applying for a license to practice. This is compulsory, and the different requirements depend on the state you want to work in. The most common license is the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) – and you will need to pass this exam to be awarded the license that will allow you to move into your nursing career.
Training doesn’t have to stop there either. As a nurse, you’ll learn something new every day, but if you’re looking to move up through the ranks, studying for a master’s in nursing can help. This qualification can typically be studied alongside work and life commitments and is a great way to improve your knowledge and skills in conjunction with work.
Furthermore, a master’s degree also allows you to specialize and move into different roles within nursing. You can also use your experience and new qualification to explore other avenues in the sector, such as management, training, and business.
Different Nursing Jobs in the Sector
As mentioned before, there are many jobs and environments you can work in while pursuing a career in nursing. The variety of positions allows you to gain experience in several areas or specialize in one section. In addition, some jobs require an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, while others demand more experience and a master’s qualification.
These jobs’ scope of responsibilities and tasks varies depending on experience and skills. However, there is always room for development and the chance to grow as you move through your career.
If you’re thinking about becoming a nurse, you have many opportunities available. Below are some of the main career paths you can take, an exploration into what each job may involve, and the qualifications you need.
Registered Nurse (RN)
This is one of the most common nursing positions, and one of the greatest things about this role is that every day is different. No two people are the same, so you’ll find you have to deal with various patients with varying needs daily. However, there are common tasks that occur throughout your working week, with some aspects including:
- Tending to wounds
- Conducting patient observations and assessments
- Administering medication
- Drawing blood for testing and retrieving samples
- Educating and assisting patients with aftercare
- Updating medical records and writing medical reports
These are a few of the many things you might do throughout your career as an RN. To move into this job role, individuals need a minimum of an associate’s degree and license to practice according to the state requirements. However, it is now common that employers are looking for a bachelor’s degree for this role. So, having this qualification may improve your employment success.
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)
An APRN role is an expansion of the nursing role. These positions include nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, and clinical nurse specialists. They treat and diagnose a range of conditions and play a pivotal role in handling patient care. Due to the advancement in this position, an APRN must hold a master’s degree alongside the relevant licensing requirements.
If you’re a fan of CSI, you’ll know that medical specialists play a role in forensic investigations in some police cases. Nurses interested in this area can move into forensic nursing on a similar theme.
This role includes examining victims who have body injuries, and these examinations also collate evidence, which can be used in court. To pursue this fascinating role, a nurse must have at least a bachelor’s degree.
Another adventurous and varied role within nursing is working in the military. Your primary role in the sector is caring for soldiers and personnel during active service or within a home base territory.
Due to the sometimes fast-paced nature of this position, nurses must have a strong constitution and be prepared for all types of injuries, including very severe cases. Therefore, the military usually requires individuals to hold at least a bachelor’s degree to work in this position.
Caring for people within the criminal justice system is a diverse role. Day to day, it involves routine and preventative care; however, it can be fast-paced. What’s more, you also need to feel comfortable working with people who have committed various crimes – some of them being potentially very dangerous felons. Again, nurses working in this environment require a bachelor’s degree.
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)
If you want to specialize in psychiatric care, moving into a PMHNP role could be for you. This nurse treats and assesses patients for mental health and psychiatric disorders. A minimum of a master’s degree with a specialism is required, and you’ll typically work in clinics, hospitals, and prisons.
Many children and babies need routine and primary care, and this is where the role of a pediatric nurse comes in. You’ll specialize in infant and children’s care in this field and often work in hospitals, schools, and private clinics. As usual, you’ll require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree to work in this role.
Home Health Nurse
With an aging population, a home health nurse plays a vital role in ensuring elderly patients get the help they need without having to travel to the nearest doctor or hospital.
This position also involves working with disabled and chronically ill patients that may not be able to attend a doctor’s office regularly. A home health nurse job requires a minimum of an associate’s degree.
There are also numerous other nursing positions, including:
- Labor and delivery nurse
- Oncology nurse
- Nurse consultant
- Surgical nurse
- Women’s health nurse
- Geriatric nurse
- Research nurse
There are so many jobs to consider if you’re going into nursing. However, getting guidance and experience during your studies and the first few years of being a nurse will help you forge a path in a career you’re passionate about.