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Nursing Career: Advance, succeed, and grow

By Brendan Conway updated on Monday, January 28, 2013

If you're interested in a long and fulfilling nursing career, there are some things you should take into account for your future planning. There are many paths to successful nursing careers, and determining the right path for you is going to be one of the most important things you can do in preparation for entering the field of nursing.

Maybe the right nursing career path for you involves pursuing a master's degree straight off, but maybe it doesn't. Maybe you're better off working in the field, and earning degrees as you go.

With the information below, you should be able to come to a better understanding of the many paths available for pursuing a nursing career, so that you can successfully ascend the ladder and get to wherever you want to be.

How do I start my nursing career?

Nursing careers are often best started at a lower level than the full graduate-degree level, such as the associate degree in nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, as these undergraduate degrees would allow you to work up the ladder as necessary. It's always possible to continue to earn the next level degree in nursing even as you're working in the field, and often employers will actually help pay for such further education.

For more on setting up nursing careers from an undergraduate level and upward, visit the undergraduate section on nursing schools.

But maybe you're not interested in working up the ladder slowly over time. Maybe you want to start with as advanced a degree as possible. Or, maybe you're already an RN with a BSN or an ADN. The next step in your nursing career would likely involve going for your Master of Science in Nursing, or MSN, degree.

Planning a nursing career: Earning a Master of Nursing degree

In the case that you're interested in getting into the master's level of nursing as quickly as possible for the advancement of your nursing career, you might want to pursue an accelerated Master of Nursing degree program that will take you all the way up through earning a BSN to earning an MSN. Such programs are likely to take four years of hard work and are not offered at all nursing colleges and universities, but are worth it if you want to start your nursing career with an MSN.

Such programs are also useful for those individuals who are already RNs, but who only have ADNs. This is because the accelerated MSN degree program will get them both a BSN and an MSN in the same program, thus giving them tremendous opportunities for advancement and career growth.

Advanced practice nursing: The importance of an MSN to your nursing career

Earning an MSN is important for any RN's career growth because it is the only way that an RN can become an advanced practice nurse, which is one of the highest levels of nursing that doesn't involve moving into the business side of healthcare.

The four types of advanced practice nurse that an RN might become after earning an MSN degree include a clinical nurse specialist, a nurse anesthetist, a nurse-midwife, and a nurse practitioner. Each of these serves a very important role in the practice of medicine.

In order to become an advanced practice nurse, you'll have to meet whatever requirements are set forward by the state in which you plan on practicing, but an MSN is always necessary. Thus, if you plan on ever advancing into an advanced nursing position, you will need to plan your nursing career with an aim towards earning an MSN.

You can find out more about some of the opportunities that a graduate level nursing degree will afford you after the link.

Other options to advance your nursing career

As previously mentioned, however, nursing careers can also enter into the business side of healthcare, as nurses with many years of experience can actually provide a great deal of knowledge and experience which is desirable for such work. They may still need to pursue some kind of appropriate degree, but pursuing an MSN degree is by no means necessary for advancing nursing careers.

Another option available to anyone interested in pursuing nursing even further is the doctoral level nursing degree. Find out more after the link.

Regardless of what direction you plan on taking your nursing career, there are many options available to you. All that remains is for you to choose.

Nursing Programs
About the Author

Brendan Conway is the Web Content Editor for Peterson's Interactive and is well-versed in the world of higher education and admissions. He is a graduate of Hamilton College, and has been working in admissions advice, test-prep advice, career planning advice, and similar fields for the majority of his career since graduation. Brendan endeavors to provide the most relevant, useful, and interesting information via Peterson's Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ feeds. Brendan enjoys lexicological oddities and voraciously reading in his free time.

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