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Nursing Career Pathways: The Many Different Ways You Can Develop Your Career

Updated on May 7, 2013

Nursing offers many potential career paths

Nursing Career Flexibility

A career in nursing has many advantages. One such advantage is the opportunity to have flexible working conditions and chances for additional advancement once you have begun your career. Nursing offers many ways to climb the corporate ladder and find the job you truly want. Whether you have just begun to think about a career in the field or have already completed your training, you will find yourself with many chances to use your education and training to their fullest.

Many nurses begin building nursing career pathways by starting off as an LPN or licensed practical nurse. Licensed practical nurses are nurses who have completed at least a year of academic training in the field of nursing, an internship as a student nurse and then earned their state certification. As an LPN, you can find nursing jobs all over the country and indeed all over the world.

Some nurses decide they want to complete additional training and earn their RN. An RN is a registered nurse. Registered nurses complete two years of academic training and a term of hands on work at a hospital. Many people choose to start their nursing career as an RN rather than an LPN because they can earn more money.

RN’s have more duties and earn more pay but the training takes longer to complete so that is not always an option. Either pathway is a good way to begin your nursing career

Additional Nursing Career Choices

Many employers are now requiring potential nurses to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing before entering the profession. So if you are looking to enter the profession of nursing you may decide to become an LPN or an RN with a two year degree or an RN with a bachelor’s degree. You may also decide to go for training as an LPN and then save some money to enable you to complete your RN degree.

A number of nursing programs allow LPNs to earn credit towards their college degree in nursing. They will give you college credit for your work in the field.

If you have already earned your bachelor’s degree in nursing, you might decide you want to go back to school and earn your master’s degree in the subject. A master’s degree in nursing allows you apply for management positions as a supervisory nurse. You might also choose to earn a degree in a related field such as business to help you gain management credentials and a job in nursing management.

Some nurses also choose to specialize in a specific field such as pediatrics or gerontology. Many nursing specialties such as neonatal nursing, have very strict requirements about who may enter the profession. A nurse must take tests to indicate her proficiency in certain techniques such as neonatal resuscitation.

A nurse might also decide she wants to become a nursing instructor. Many nursing teachers have both years of experience in the field and advanced degrees. Some even have doctorates in the field and have done original research.

More Nursing Career Advice

Potential Nursing Career Pathways: A Brief Summary

Nursing is one of the most flexible professions one can possibly enter. A nurse can begin her career as a licensed practical nurse with only eighteen months of training in the field. After that time she might decide she wants to earn further credentials and get a registered nurse license. A candidate might also decide she wants to earn a community college or bachelor’s degree and then enter the field of nursing directly after completing such training.

Once a nurse has earned her basic degree, she can then take additional classes in the field of choice in order to specialize in a specific field. She might discover she likes working with burn patients or expectant mothers or premature babies. She can easily gain additional college credits in order to apply for a job in these fields.

After that a nurse may advance her career yet further. She might decide she wants to earn her master’s degree in the field of nursing so she can become a nursing manager. Many colleges offer master’s degree programs in nursing to qualified candidates.

In short nursing offers many career pathways. If you are interested in the field of nursing, you should learn as much as you can about all potential pathways before you begin.


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