From Bedside Care to Advanced Practice Nursing – Opportunities Abound

Nursing opens a whole world of opportunity in the healthcare profession. From bedside care to advanced practice techniques in trauma care, cardiac and other technical care emergencies, chemotherapy or hemodialysis, to fields such as forensic science and informatics.  New fields and options for nurses open rapidly as medicine advances. According to The Campaign for Nursing from Johnson& Johnson, there are currently 104 nursing specialties. There seems to be something for everyone!

Many of these opportunities are open to entry level nurses as well as seasoned nurses. Some however, require a BSN and often some additional specialized training and certification. Advanced Practice RNs such as Clinical Nurse Specialists and Nurse Practitioners have a wide range of specialties available as well, but they do require advanced education (MSN or PhD) and often additional certification.

Certifications and Advanced Degrees

Florence Nightingale in a Crimean War Hospital – Getty Images

Online education opportunities offer the necessary certifications and advanced degrees and work well for nurses who often have the opportunity work the clinical aspects in to their regular job though a co-worker who qualifies as a preceptor. This is not true for entry level nursing which requires a bricks and mortar education (or at least a hybrid program of online and in-person education) and hands-on clinicals with supervision and instruction from qualified nurse educators.

Nursing has come a long way even in just the last 2-3 decades. Florence Nightingale envisioned this happening in the early 1850’s as she worked to build the modern foundation for the nursing profession and promoted sanitation practices on the battlefield during the Crimean War.

Patient Education

Today nursing advances quickly with advances in medicine such as treatments, diagnostics, medications, and necessary lifestyle changes.  Nurses are active participants in the care and education of patients and families in the treatment, cure, and prevention of complications from acute and chronic disease and injuries. Nurses are said to be the backbone of the health care industry.

Where once the patient education was left to the physician, now with extreme time constraints on the MD and growing knowledge that education is a huge part of improving patient outcomes, educating patients has become the responsibility of the nurse. Therefore, nurses must keep up to date with advances and changes and able to provide patients and families with the most current and best practices to maximize positive outcomes.

Nursing is a Lifelong Learning Experience

Nursing is a lifelong learning experience at each and every level, and advanced education is not foreign to nurses. Most nurses thirst for knowledge and can be said to be eternal students although they usually do so while holding down full time jobs as opposed to being unemployed professional students. This is essential to ensuring best practices for their patients.

Through education and experience, the nursing profession provides many career choices for nurses of all levels to find their niche and reap the rewards of knowing they have truly made a difference for each of their patients.