How to Excel in your Nursing career to give Patients top Quality care
Nursing is one of the most fulfilling careers you can have. With your expert skills and knowledge, you can educate individuals and communities on important healthcare matters, such as the importance of becoming more active and eating a balanced diet, empowering people to take control of their own health.
Furthermore, as a nurse who has completed online nurse practitioner programs, you will provide patients with life-saving care and moral support in the treatment of various conditions, making your role an incredibly important part of the caring profession.
However, with so many different medical fields that you can specialize in and different routes into nursing as a career, you can easily become overwhelmed when exploring your options.
To help make things that bit clearer for you, this article will first look at the various paths to becoming a registered nurse, such as enrolling in online nurse practitioner programs, before considering some of the specializations you could take. So, read on to discover how to excel in your nursing career to give patients the top quality care they deserve.
There are two main educational pathways to becoming a registered nurse: an associate degree in nursing and a bachelor’s of science in nursing. Both pathways have pros and cons depending on your particular situation.
Associate degree in nursing (ADN)
An associate degree in nursing is heavily vocational and aims to provide a more holistic educational experience. ADN programs provide very good hands-on clinical training, giving you a solid work experience base in a nursing environment during which you will deal with real-life situations and circumstances upon which you can apply your academic knowledge.
This vast clinical experience is backed up with advanced nursing classes to provide you with the educational knowledge and skills needed to translate to your own nursing care. Classes taught in an ADN include microbiology and immunology, nursing management of patient care, and nursing care of patients with complex needs.
An ADN is a great pathway for students who want to get into the nursing profession as quickly as possible and do not have the time or financial resources to complete a bachelor’s degree or online nurse practitioner programs. Look for an accredited ADN program that will provide you with the education necessary to pass your state registration exam. However, although an ADN provides a solid vocational base for nursing training, there are some drawbacks. For example, suppose you are planning on specializing in the future in a specific nursing field, such as geriatric nursing. In that case, you will need to complete a master’s degree or online nurse practitioner programs, many of which have a bachelor’s degree in general nursing as a prerequisite. Furthermore, many healthcare providers favor employing new nurses who have a bachelor’s of science in nursing. You can have a perfectly satisfying and fulfilling career on an ADN level; however, you should also seriously consider the option of studying for a bachelor’s degree in nursing and studying online nurse practitioner programs.
Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN)
The traditional academic route of a bachelor’s of science in nursing is becoming an increasingly popular route into becoming a registered nurse, with an increasing number of healthcare facilities favoring applicants who have a BSN.
The syllabus for online nurse practitioner programs includes rigorous academic classes to provide you with a solid educational and theoretical knowledge on which to base your nursing care. Classes taught include public health nursing, the healthcare of women, and the basic scientific principles for nurse anesthesia, as well as the basic principles of nursing and human biology.
Furthermore, many BSN programs provide students with clinical experience to boost their hands-on experience and knowledge, giving them an opportunity to apply their theoretical nursing knowledge in real-life situations. Online nurse practitioner programs will provide you with the flexibility to successfully pursue your nursing degree alongside a full-time job and other family and life commitments. Accredited online nurse practitioner programs will provide you with the correct experience and knowledge to successfully pass your state registration exam to become a registered nurse.
Master’s of science in nursing (MSN)
After you have completed your BSN and passed your state license exam to become a registered nurse and have had a few years’ worth of clinical experience, you might decide that you want to specialize in a particular area of nursing, such as pediatric care. If this is the case, then furthering your education with a master’s of science in nursing in that particular specialism is a must. Look for online nurse practitioner programs at master’s level for the flexibility to pursue your master’s degree while also working full-time in your current nursing role.
Another option, if you have yet to start your bachelor’s of science in nursing but have your heart set on working in a particular area of nursing, is to look for online nurse practitioner programs that offer a BSN to MSN track. This will enable you to earn your BSN in general nursing and then go straight into an MSN program to develop your specialization. MSN programs offer various different options for nursing specialization, such as psychiatric mental health nursing, family nursing, and pediatric nursing. However, bear in mind that even if you are pursuing a BSN to MSN track, you will still be required to pass the state license exam in order to become a registered nurse in your state.
Passing the NCLEX-RN examination
After you have completed your initial nursing training program, whether an ADN or a BSN, or online nurse practitioner programs, you will need to become licensed to practice as a registered nurse in your state by passing the NCLEX-RN examination. This is a computerized test that consists of an average of 119 questions that must be answered within six hours. The national average pass rate for the NCLEX-RN examination is 70-75 percent, but you must wait at least 45 days before re-taking the exam if you fail.
It is important that you enroll in an accredited program or online nurse practitioner programs to ensure that you are being thoroughly taught the correct information to give you the best chance of passing this exam. After you have passed the NCLEX-RN exam, you will be successfully granted a license to practice as a registered nurse in your state. Bear in mind, however, that you will have to keep renewing your license every couple of years to continue working as a registered nurse. Each state has different renewal requirements, but these usually include evidence of refresher courses and further training and a set number of hours of proven professional practice.
As you can see, training to become a registered nurse does require a lot of hard work and dedication; however, the rewards in terms of fulfillment and career progression are huge.
So, what can you do with your nursing degree and license? The field of medicine is a large one, are there are a great many specialist areas that you could go into. Here are some examples of the nursing specialisms that you can progress to with a master’s of science in nursing.
Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner
Over recent years, the issue of mental health has been a hot topic in the media, with people becoming increasingly more aware of and comfortable with the fact that looking after your mental health is as important as looking after your physical health. Mental health nurses play an important role in helping people suffering from mental health conditions to recover and manage their condition so that they can lead a fulfilling and enjoyable life. You will work with patients who have been diagnosed with a range of mental health conditions, from personality and eating disorders to addiction to drugs and alcohol and anxiety and depression. You will assist in promoting and supporting a person’s recovery, monitoring their condition so that they are empowered to have more control over their condition.
You might believe that you will only be able to find employment as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner in a specialist psychiatric hospital or clinic dealing with specific mental health disorders. While you can most certainly have a very fulfilling career in these facilities, there are a number of different locations where you can practice as a mental health nurse. For example, you could work in a rehabilitation facility providing expert psychiatric nursing to people struggling with addiction; or in a retirement community providing expert support for people with dementia.
Family nurse practitioner
You might want to provide expert nursing care to every generation of the family, from newborn babies to the elderly. If you want to care for people throughout their lifespans, then taking a master’s of nursing as a family nurse practitioner is the ideal specialization for you. As a family nurse practitioner, you will provide your patients with direct and preventative healthcare, such as treating acute and chronic illnesses like arthritis, developing treatment plans, and performing physical exams.
Once you are a family nurse practitioner, you can decide to specialize further in a subspeciality, like post-partum or cardiac nursing. This specialty provides a more holistic approach to nursing, aiming to consider the patient as a whole and work with them with the aim of managing their own health so that they are empowered to maximize their own health.
In rural communities or communities that are underserved by healthcare providers, as a family nurse practitioner, you might be the only consistent source of health care and information. As such, it can also be an exceedingly stressful role at times as you will have to make life-saving or life-altering decisions for your patients. However, the sense of satisfaction and fulfillment you will gain by making a real difference in the lives of your patients will be unbeatable.
Geriatric nurse practitioner
People are living increasingly longer lives: the US life expectancy in 2021 currently stands at 78.99 years, a remarkable increase from the 68 years expected in 1950. Furthermore, the aging baby boomer generation is now approaching an age at which they will need an increasing amount of health care.
As such, the next few years are likely to see an increasing need for specialist geriatric nurses who are experts in the care of older patients. As a geriatric nurse, you will provide compassionate care and support for older adults and help them with their daily needs like washing and dressing.
As you will be working with people towards the end of their life cycle, you will be regularly faced with upsetting situations, such as the death of a patient, so you will need to be able to deal with stressful situations while presenting a cheerful demeanor to patients and taking care of your own mental health.
You could choose to specialize further into a particular type of senior care, such as providing nursing care and support to people diagnosed with dementia and their families. As a geriatric nurse practitioner, you can work in several different settings aside from a hospital or clinic – there are so many people starting senior care franchise companies these days that you will find yourself with plenty of settings to choose from. For instance, you could provide nursing care to residents in a retirement community or care home or work independently carrying house to house calls on elderly patients who are unable to make regular trips to the hospital for check-ups.
These are just three nursing specialisms that you could go into; there are many more besides working with children as a pediatric nurse or enrolling in the military to become a military nurse providing essential care to soldiers. When choosing which area of nursing to specialize in, consider your personal qualities and past experience.
If you have come into nursing after having spent many years caring for an elderly parent who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, for instance, you might be an excellent fit for a geriatric nurse. The same considerations also apply when deciding on which route into nursing would be best for you. If you are short on time and money, an ADN will provide you with a great amount of clinical experience for an excellent start to nursing. Alternatively, online nurse practitioner programs at either graduate or postgraduate level will provide you with the academic rigor to further specialize in a particular area of the nursing profession.