Fields Students Can Enter Following Graduate Nursing Programs
Whether you earn a Master of Science in Nursing or a doctorate degree in the subject, you’re not just tapping into higher earning potential, but also a more diverse and expansive set of career opportunities. Graduate nursing degrees offer you the chance to take your career in a variety of directions that can bring you closer to helping patients or other future nurses. Here are a few of the career paths you may want to consider after earning your graduate nursing degree.
Nursing administrators can work in hospitals, health systems or private offices controlling anywhere from a small team of nurses to a group of nursing units. Administrators operate between the clinical and business worlds, responsible for administrative as well as organizational and managerial tasks. This is a good option for nurses who are strong leaders.
If you have a passion for sharing your knowledge and learning at the same time, you may want to become a nurse educator. You could work at a college, university or hospital to teach nursing students about medicine and the practice of nursing, whether clinically or theoretically.
You’ll need a doctoral or master’s degree to teach, learning both material for class as well as how to run a classroom. Although you likely won’t have as much patient interaction as when you were a practicing registered nurse, you’ll be able to help many students become capable and successful nurses in their own right.
Becoming a nurse practitioner is a popular option for nurses with graduate degrees. Based on the state you live in the requirements and duties of an NP vary, but typically an NP can diagnosis conditions, treat patients, prescribe medication and function similarly to a primary care physician. In addition to your graduate degree, you’ll need to pass exams, much like becoming an RN. Within the category of nurse practitioners there are specialties including family medicine or psychiatrics.
If you find yourself in love with the research and writing aspects of your nursing master’s program more than the clinical parts, you may want to look into becoming a nurse researcher.
Nurse researchers typically have a Ph.D. and may also work at a university. They can design studies, analyze data and do research on a variety of areas or nursing, health care and medicine to help further the field and improve patient care from the scientific side. Nurse researchers can make strides both in the form of academic papers as well as reforms to clinical nursing techniques.
With the proliferation of electronic health records, new coding requirements and rapidly evolving software and hardware, any medical facility could benefit from a technology expert who also knows about nursing. Nursing informaticists are experts in nursing, computer and information sciences. You can work for a health system or hospital, using technological improvements to help nurses and patients.
Public health or policy advocate
If you think that the best way to improve nursing or patient care is at a legislative level, you may want to become an advocate or lobbyist. Usually, nursing advocates have educational backgrounds in public policy or social work. You can work to organize and execute public health events, such as blood drives or educational seminars, or you can work closely with a local, state or federal government body to influence law.
Of course, there are many other paths that a nurse with a graduate degree can take. A Master of Science in Nursing or higher degree can open an array of possibilities for any nurse to follow their passion and have a real impact.