The choice to become a nurse is exciting because of the variety of options. Registered nurses have many pathways to choose from within their career, and if you advance your degree, more options are available.
Are you thinking about advancing your education to become a Nurse Practitioner or Doctorate prepared nurse? The advantages are well worth it, and this article explores why.
Advancing Your Nursing Degree
Obtaining an RN
When a student shows interest in becoming a nurse, the most common route is to start with an RN licensure. To receive an RN, you must attend college, at a community college for an associate level degree (ADN) or a four-year college for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Both degree options end with the eligibility to take the NCLEX-RN exam, which grants licensure to the nurse.
Nurses who take the initiative to obtain a BSN degree have more career options. Along with added potential, bachelor’s degree prepared nurses might experience an increase in pay, too. Opportunities are available for BSN nurses including management and higher level positions. A bachelor’s degree is the entry-level for many hospitals to hire RNs because of current Magnet recommendations.
Beyond the RN
After nurses have their RN licensure, some go on to become nurse practitioners. Many options are available for nurses that go beyond the bedside. It takes some self-exploration to figure out what your ideal clinical specialty is as an advanced practitioner.
Nurse Practitioner (NP)
A master’s degree is the requirement to become a nurse practitioner. Schooling takes around two years beyond your BSN degree. Choosing a nurse practitioner path is excellent if you enjoy one-on-one care with a collaborative approach, and desire to work independently.
Nurse practitioners are responsible for their own patient load under the direction of a physician. Nurse practitioners often have office hours. Some specialties, such as midwifery, require on-call hours and patients that need personal care. Nurse practitioners are not physicians because they did not go to medical school and have less clinical training hours than medical residents. However, they do offer a team-based approach to comprehensive and holistic care. Nurse practitioners make more money than an RN and will often supervise other nurses.
Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP)
A doctorate degree prepares nurses with vast knowledge in identifying issues within healthcare and the ability to initiate change in practice. DNP nurses have a higher level of critical thinking skills because of their advanced curriculum. They often take positions within leadership, management, and business. They influence the industry by educating via the patient’s viewpoint because they are nurses.
DNP prepared nurses are often chosen over other nurses in job placement. They are also expected to be in high demand over the rest of the decade, due to the aging population and healthcare needs nationwide.
Choosing a DNP path is ideal if you want to make a difference in your community and the medical field. It does take around four to six years to complete your Doctorate after receiving your Bachelor’s level, but most programs are part-time to accommodate work and family obligations.
Choosing Your Path
When choosing how you want to advance your degree, consider where you want to work in the next 10 years. If you never want to leave floor nursing, think about what it is you love about it.
Perhaps you want the clinical experience? If so, you might be suited for a nurse practitioner job where you can continue to deliver patient care. A DNP is more of a business role and would be a good match for you if you want to make changes in healthcare policy.
Whichever path you choose, it’s a smart choice. You will make more money, help patients beyond simply providing clinical care, and become a leader to fellow nurses.
Janine Kelbach, RNC-OB is a freelance writer and owner of WriteRN.net.