With abundant nursing career opportunities, you will have plenty of professional paths to choose from as a licensed nurse.
Some of these roles are as old as the profession itself. Yet rapid advancements in medical technology and procedures and a marked increase in our aging population have opened doors to many new and exciting nursing specialties.
Today, the nursing field is more dynamic than ever, and you can hone your expertise and become a leader in one of many nursing vocations.
Each of these specialties does require a minimum level of education and, in some cases, experience. However, the projected demand for these positions reflects the rewards they provide in salary, job satisfaction, and advancement potential.
Here are ten nursing career opportunities you might have yet to consider!
Entry-level licensed practical nurses (LPN) can administer basic healthcare procedures for their patients, such as vital monitoring and documentation.
However, nurses who desire more advanced responsibilities will need a registered nurse (RN) license. A 4-year BSN program, or an accelerated one, covers additional competencies that will prepare you for more specialized roles.
A BSN program will also prepare you for the NCLEX, a nationally recognized exam to gauge nursing skills. You first need to pass the NCLEX to receive your RN license so you can pursue one of these nursing career opportunities.
1. Travel Nurse
As demand for nurses and other healthcare professionals continues to climb, several hospitals and clinics are partnering with national staffing agencies to help meet patient needs.
Travel nurses work on temporary assignments ranging from a few days to several months in various facilities and roles.
The advantages of working as a travel nurse include experiencing new and diverse settings and higher earning potential than a permanent position. It’s an ideal position for individuals who enjoy fresh challenges and want to broaden their network.
2. School Nurse
There’s a good chance you visited your school nurse once or twice as a kid after scraping a knee or dealing with a runny nose.
While school nurses are the “first responders” for students’ immediate health needs, they also collaborate with school officials to promote preventative healthcare and education. Other responsibilities could include administering care to students with chronic medical conditions, developing health-related school programs, or even contributing to the school’s curriculum.
School nurse positions aren’t limited to elementary and secondary schools. College and university student health centers require them as well.
3. Forensic Nurse
A forensic nurse’s specialty probably isn’t what you might imagine how a TV crime drama may portray it.
Forensic nurses work with law enforcement and legal attorneys on violent criminal cases. However, while they do participate in identifying and assessing injuries and other conditions, they also act as advocates for the victims.
As a forensic nurse, you would provide ongoing care for victims of criminal behavior, like domestic abuse or neglect, and act as their liaison.
Given the nature of the field, forensic nurses must often work on traumatic cases involving extreme emotions. Therefore, while empathy is a core trait for any nurse, it’s all the more important for forensic nurses.
4. Legal Nurse Consultant (LNC)
If a job that blends healthcare and law appeals to you, consider pursuing work as a legal nurse consultant.
LNCs bridge the knowledge gap in medical and legal issues, providing context for other professionals in health-related cases.
As an LNC in public service, you would also give testimony in relevant cases.
If you’d prefer to steer clear of government work, private sector organizations, such as corporate in-house legal teams and insurance companies, always need medical experts in their ranks.
Don’t forget that while a BSN will ensure solid nursing proficiencies, you’ll still need three years of law school to provide professional legal advice.
5. Telehealth Nurse
During the pandemic, many healthcare providers realized a need for nursing professionals who are well-versed in remote communication and digital technology.
Telehealth nurses allow patients the flexibility to avoid unnecessary trips to a hospital or clinic by serving them over video conferencing or a phone call. This option is significant for patients restricted to their homes due to chronic medical conditions.
Since you will be working remotely, good online communication skills and technical savvy are necessary if you wish to join this new and exciting field.
Nursing Career Opportunities: Graduate Degrees
The following positions, commonly referred to as advanced practice registered nurses (APRN), require additional education or certification once you receive your BSN.
You may also need to acquire practical experience in the field before you can apply to the appropriate grad school.
You will need to enroll in one of these degree programs to pursue most of these positions:
- Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
- Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
- Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
6. Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
CNM responsibilities entail much more than helping mothers through the climactic labor and delivery process.
CNMs provide prenatal care to pregnant patients over the entire reproductive cycle through monitoring, education, and physical examinations. They also follow up after the birth with the patient’s postpartum care. Other responsibilities include gynecological care and counseling.
The American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), the national organization that certifies all nurse-midwives, also requires anyone who wishes to become a CNM to obtain their MSN.
7. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
More commonly known as anesthesiologists in the public lexicon, CRNAs administer anesthesia to patients and monitor them during surgical operations.
CRNAs must adjust anesthesia levels based on their patient’s comfort and pain levels during their medical procedure. It’s a vital role as some patients may also experience unexpected allergic reactions.
After completing your MSN, you must pass an exam to be certified by the National Board of Certification & Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA).
8. Nurse Educator
You may be a great fit as a nurse educator if you are passionate about learning and sharing your knowledge with peers.
Future nurses will need qualified individuals to guide and mentor them through their education. As a nurse educator, you can lead them through lectures, clinical simulations, and contemporary discussion.
Since you’ll be teaching the latest best practices, your continuing education will be important in ensuring you’re keeping your students’ lesson plans up-to-date.
MSN, DNP, Ph.D., and Doctor of Education (EdD) are all graduate degrees that can allow you to be a nurse educator so you can teach the next generation of nurses.
9. Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
Clinical Nurse Specialist is an APRN-level role typically operating in a traditional hospital or clinic setting.
As graduate-level experts, CNSs are certified to diagnose and treat more advanced medical conditions than entry-level RNs. In addition, they train in advanced practices in specialized fields, such as pharmacology, mental health, or pediatrics.
A CNS has a broad sphere of influence in the industry, often assuming the roles of leader, trainer, and collaborator for other nurses and healthcare professionals.
10. Certified Nurse Practitioner (CNP)
Certified Nurse Practitioners are experts in preventative care and general wellness throughout the entire life cycle of their patients. These days, many patients consult with a CNP rather than a doctor for routine health procedures.
CNPs have an extensive catalog of responsibilities, including acute and chronic healthcare, prescribing medications and diagnostic work, and developing treatment plans. CNPs also advocate for their patients by referring them to other specialists when needed.
CNPs will often narrow their expertise to a particular background. For example, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), about 70 percent of CNPs focus on family practice.
Ready to Lead the Way in One of These Nursing Career Opportunities?
Believe it or not, these ten nursing career opportunities are just a handful of the exciting possibilities that await you in the nursing field.
Many more compelling careers are popping up in healthcare every day, and employers are looking for skilled leaders like you to fill them!
We want to invest in your nursing education at Davis & Elkins. Our tight-knit medical community works around your busy schedule so you can take the lead in the nursing profession.
If you’re ready to grow and start your journey in the most highly respected profession in the world, we’d love to hear from you.