If you have decided to pursue a career as a nurse, you have made an excellent choice for your future. The nursing field has opportunities for people across many levels of education, so you don't have to complete several years of schooling before getting started. As an added bonus, regardless of where you are in your career, there are always many ways to upgrade your education and broaden your career horizons. Pick up six great tips for upgrading your nursing education below.
- Get Your Foot In The Door - As long as you have a high school diploma or GED, you can quickly get your foot in the door of the nursing field by becoming a CNA or LPN. Certification programs for both careers tend to be quite affordable, and they typically only take a semester or two to complete. This is an excellent option for those who have completed high school, but who are not ready to devote time to college or university. Additionally, working as a CNA or LPN helps you acquire much-needed work experience that will come in handy later.
- Make The Leap To RN With An ADN - Whether you start out as a CNA or LPN, you may ultimately aspire to be a registered nurse. There are many advantages to earning your RN license, including competitive pay and job security. While many people earn bachelor's degrees to become RNs, that option takes four to five years. Earning an associate degree in nursing, or ADN, is much faster and typically takes about half the time. For those who are eager to earn their RN licenses so that they can apply for jobs as registered nurses, the ADN route is a great way to go.
- Broaden Your Career Horizons With A BSN - Many nurses are perfectly content to continue their careers with associate degrees. However, there are limitations to having just an ADN as opposed to a bachelor's degree. If you decide to progress further in your career, you will need a BSN anyway. With that in mind, it may be best to earn your BSN right off the bat. This typically requires four to five years of schooling, but the payoff is considerable. Nurses with BSNs tend to command higher pay, and they typically qualify for better positions. If you want to keep your options open and have the time to devote to school now, earning a BSN is an excellent choice.
- Move Into A Specialization With An MSN - As you gain experience as an RN, you will probably find yourself gravitating toward certain areas of practice. For example, you may find that you especially enjoy working with infants or the elderly, or maybe you have a knack for working in the oncology department. In any way, a great way to advance in your career at some point is by earning a master of science in nursing, or MSN. Doing so allows you to move into an area of specialization, including midwifery and critical care nursing. Many MSN programs also prepare students for more advanced managerial positions.
- Climb The Career Ladder With A Doctorate Degree - Even if you go as far as earning your MSN, you won't be out of options in terms of advancing your education. In fact, if you ever want to move into administration or other highly advanced roles, a doctorate level degree is a terrific option. It is also the way to go if you want to move into clinical research or advanced clinical practice. After earning an MSN, many nursing professionals go ahead and earn doctorate degrees just to keep their careers moving along.
- Upgrade Your Education Quickly With A Bridge Program - When you consider all of the educational stages and levels that nurses can progress through, it probably feels like you will be in school forever if you want to achieve your goals. Besides, how are you supposed to keep attending school when you have a career to worry about? Many busy RNs get around this issue by taking advantage of bridge programs. These programs allow you to earn advanced degrees more quickly by taking your previous education and work experience into consideration. From LPN-to-ADN and LPN-to-BSN bridge programs to BSN-to-MSN bridge programs and beyond, there are many ways to get where you want to be more quickly.
As you can see, no matter where you happen to be in your nursing career, there is almost always a way to upgrade your education to keep it moving forward. Keep the above tips in mind to have the easiest time achieving your career goals.