Nursing is a thriving career path for anyone to choose, but to truly gain the rewards you want, you will have to push past the lower levels of nursing by achieving additional degrees. A BSN can give you the ability to customize your career the way you want, and a Masters of Science in Nursing can direct your career to the dream job you have always wanted.
There are so many great reasons to be a nurse:
- Growing job market
- Ability to work in any area of medicine
- Ability to help people directly
- Great benefits
- Ability to learn and work
The last benefit is one that sets nursing apart from other careers. To be a doctor, you must go through medical school beforehand. Nurses, however, come in many shapes and sizes.
Know the Nursing Career Pathways
You can obtain multiple degrees and certifications online through official and accredited channels. You can opt for certificates, nursing degrees, or a Bachelors. Knowing which option is right for you at the moment is key to succeeding as a nurse.
The Multiple Levels of Nursing
There are multiple levels of nursing. They are very straight to the point, and understanding the levels and what the educational requirements are before you are eligible is necessary to plan and prep to reach your dream.
CNA : You only need a CNA certificate to become a Certified Nursing Assistant, which can take between 3 to 8 weeks to complete.
LPN: You will need you to achieve a practical nursing diploma, which can take 12 months, to become a Licensed Practical Nurse.
RN: Becoming a Registered Nurse can be achieved either by completing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). This can also be achieved by completing a degree in Nursing (ADN).
APRN: Advanced Practice Registered Nurses will need a Master of Science in Nursing. They can specialize their area of medicine with specialist degrees or certifications.
Further Specialization Options
As an APRN, you can work anywhere so long as you specialize your degree. You can become a midwife nurse, a cardiac nurse, an anesthetist nurse, or even a family nurse practitioner.
It is important to understand what the workload for each nursing role will include. An anesthetist nurse will often work in the hospital alongside doctors in surgery and will follow the same schedules as doctors in their role.
If you want a more personal approach and the benefit of a 9 to 5 day, then becoming a family nurse practitioner is the perfect role to strive for as you can work in a health clinic or private office.
Which Nursing Qualifications Can You Complete Online?
You can study every level of qualification for nursing online. The only time you will be required to be there physically in person is for clinical and on-site residency. Skills, for example, will need to be taught in person.
All of the following can be completed online:
- Certified Nursing Assistant Certification
- Practical Nursing Diploma
- Bachelor in Nursing Science
- MSc in Nursing
- Nursing Specializations
Not only can they be done online, but they are built to help nurses achieve their degrees while simultaneously continuing to work.
Pass the State License Exam for Each Level of Nursing
When you achieve your degree or certification, you will always need to pass the state license exam before you can progress your career.
How to Choose the Right Online Nursing Degree to Apply For
There are many different components you will want in a great nursing degree. The higher you go, the more important choosing the right degree is, especially for BSN and MSN degrees.
Ensure the Course You are Looking at is Available in Your State
State licensing is quite complex, which is why you are going to want to be very sure in your selection process when searching for online degreesthat it is available in your state.
Some states offer a multi-state license, which is automatically available if you are a permanent resident of one of the eNLC states.
Nurse Licensure Compact States
The Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) is a collection of 25 states that operate under one nursing license. In essence, if you study for different nursing positions in one of these 25 states, then you can practice nursing and further your career in any one of them.
Of course, you are likely to alsohear about eNLC, which stands for:
Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact
eNLC is the modern update to NLC, and it has been around since 2017. Though the purpose is the same,one such difference is that nurses will need to undergo a state and federal background check.
NLC and eNLC is sponsored by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) and is perfect if you want to have the flexibility of moving where demand is highest or if you even want to try your hand at travel nursing.
The states included in NLC are:
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
The best news is that this list is growing, with pending legislation ongoing for several states, with two states already accepted and due to be included within NLC within the next year. These are:
And states that have pending legislation to become a part of the eNLC include:
- New Jersey
If you do not live in these states, then you will need to acquire a new license if you were to ever move.
Choose Industry-Leading Courses
When choosing courses, you want one that is designed for working nurses, is fully accredited, and has exceptional graduate prospects. You can choose generic degrees, like a BSN or MSN, that can later be customized with a certificate program, or you can go right in to a specialist degree if you are 100% sure about what you want to do.
For example, if you want to become a family nurse practitioner, you have a few options. If you already have an MSN, you can go on to achieve a Post-Master’s Family Nurse Practitioner Certificate. If you haven’t yet achieved your MSN, then a family nurse practitioner program is better suited to help you achieve your dream faster.
See if You Can Use Experience Towards Your Degree
For lower level degrees like a BSN, you might be able to use your experience as credits towards your degree. You will still have to study and achieve the majority of credits through their program, but this way, you won’t have to relearn things you are already very familiar with.
Ensure It is 100% Online and Flexible
There should only be two instances where the degree is not online, clinic duty and on-site residency, which typically only lasts 3 days. You also want to ensure that the degree you are looking at is flexible. This means you can log on at any time during your day to study.
Call Ahead to See if You Can Use Your Employer for Clinic Hours
To achieve any degree in nursing, you will have to complete a clinic placement, but this doesn’t have to be a hassle. Call ahead, and see if your current employer will count towards your clinical hours, and if not, you will be provided with a clinic and preceptor to keep the experience stress-free.
Ensure it is Accredited
The degree in question must always be fully accredited by the ruling board of nurses in your state. Examples include:
- Collegiate Nursing Education
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
How to Juggle Your Nursing Degree with Your Career
Now that you have a better understanding of what degrees and certificates you need to achieve your dream and have chosen where you want to attend, all that is left is to actually start juggling your new nursing degree with your busy career.
Use Your Experience
As stated before, for a BSN, you may be able to use your experience as credits towards your degree. If you can, always take this option as it will take a load off of your shoulders and make it easier to focus on improving your knowledge and skillset.
Inform Your Employer
Let your employer and the nurses you report to know in advance that you are taking on a new degree. This way, you can schedule days off to attend residency days or if you need to go elsewhere for clinical. They may very well be happy to help you learn and study while you go.
Strike a Balance with Your Routine
There are three things you need when taking on such a busy, stressful workload:
- A healthy, balanced diet
- A great night’s sleep
- A place to go where you don’t work
You will also want to exercise, but the busy days on your feet at work will often mean that box is already ticked.
Safeguard Your Health
If you push yourself too far, you will burn out. Online degrees are customizable, so if you find that you need to take longer or only tackle one course at a time, then do it. Your health and wellbeing should always take priority so that you can thrive and succeed.