Nursing is an excellent career choice to get into. Getting started just takes a few weeks, or you can transfer into it and make a big career change for yourself in just a few short years. Nurses can work their way up into very important positions and make well over six figure salaries. FNP nurses in 22 different states can even open up their own clinic, and all they need is to find top online FNP programs to get started with their qualifications.
The best part is that the entire industry has perfected the concept of work and study. There are simply too few nurses for the demand for nurses to take years off at a time to commit to further study.
It’s also not feasible for those with responsibilities, even if that is just to themselves. Caring for yourself, much less a partner and kids, means you need to work.
And that is where online education comes into play. Online FNP programs are designed to be completed while working full time as a nurse and are actually bettered by being completed by active nurses.
Becoming an FNP nurse, however, is near the end of your career. For those just starting out, use this guide to help you build a great career. Become an FNP nurse, become a Clinical Nurse Specialist, become a Nurse Anesthetist. There are so many options both in terms of what you specialize in, and even where you work, and this guide will help you understand your options.
Levels of Nursing
There are several different levels of nurses, and you can either start as a Certified Nursing Assistant, or you can skip ahead and start your career as a Registered Nurse. To help you plot out your own individual career path, these are the levels of nursing you will need to become familiar with:
Certified Nursing Assistant
Certified Nursing Assistants help with holistic care around hospitals, care homes, and even clinics. They are the ones that keep patients clean and comfortable, and their work goes a long way to improving the quality of care that patients experience.
It is also very fast and simple to become a CNA. There are many courses available that take just a few weeks to complete. Once completed, you can take an exam and be certified as a nursing assistant in your state and can start working from there.
Licensed Nurse Practitioner
Licensed Nurse Practitioners (LNPs) have greater responsibilities, and higher pay. It takes a few months of additional training to become an LNP, which is often the preferred next step for those who start out as a CNA, as this will allow you to bring in more money home before you get started with the big, bad degrees.
There are two ways to become a Registered Nurse. You can either earn your BSN right out of the gate, or you can earn a nursing diploma. Nursing diplomas only take 2 years to complete, so if you need to bring in more money right now, they are the better solution. It is important to note, however, that you will need to transfer credits to a BSN program later on to fast-track through it if you want to progress further.
If you can, it is simpler and more straightforward to earn your BSN right out of the gate. You will be paid more, and some states are putting a lot of emphasis on increasing their population of BSN-RNs, so it can also make it easier for you to find and secure work.
Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioner
APRNs are the highest level of nurse, and also where you can finally start to customize your career. One of the most popular types of APRN is a Nurse Practitioner, particular a Family Nurse Practitioner. They are even considered to be the ideal solution to help with the shortage of physicians in the US.
You will want to know what specialization you want to get involved in before you enroll. Online FNP programs are very popular option, for example, as they give you the greatest amount of freedom to care for patients and also redirect your career as you see fit.
By this time, you should have a lot of experience under your belt and a good understanding of the types of nursing and what APRNs can do. You will then want to find those online FNP programs that allow you to do it all; juggle your workload, your course-load, and give you support throughout.
APRNs earn the highest out of all nurses, and they also provide the most hands-on care. Some, like FNP nurses, can open their own clinics and can even write and give out prescriptions. Some APRNs even earn more than doctors, like the Nurse Anesthetist, who earns around $150,000 per year for their work.
APRNs also have the greatest freedom to customize their career. They can, in fact, work almost everywhere.
Understanding the Nursing Degrees
The most common nursing degrees you will hear about are the BSN and MSN. While BSN degrees are fairly catch-all, MSN degrees are widely varied. You can earn your specialization in a certain demographic or area of medicine, for example with online FNP Programs or MSN midwifery programs.
You can even go further in your education. If you want to become a nurse educator, for example, there is a nursing Ed. D. If you want to either combine your experience as a nurse with organization or other business skills, there nursing business degrees. You can even go for a DNP, at which time you are technically a Nursing Doctor, though not an MD.
There are many nursing degrees, and many more specializations to choose from. Don’t assume that they are all the same, because they are not, especially as you move up the career ladder. Be very careful when it comes to what online FNP programs you actually apply for. You need to be able to apply, you need to have the requirements, and the degree itself needs to offer you what you need to succeed with your own personal goals.
There are a few traits that you will want to look for in the online FNP programs, or whichever MSN degree you go for, including:
Online and Flexible
With very few exceptions, all nursing degrees have clinical training and experience requirements. That being said, everything else should be available online. Not only should it be available online, but it should also be flexible.
This means two things. One, that you should have the freedom to take on however many courses you feel comfortable with. For those working full-time, one or two courses max is a good idea.
Two, the degree should have flexible log-in times. Otherwise, you will never be able to juggle your education with your career. Shifts are hard to predict and can be hard to recover from, especially with high volumes of coronavirus patients. In order to successfully handle both a demanding career and even the best of the online FNP programs, you need to be able to log in when you can, and not just when you are told to.
Support and Coaching
You need support, and your institution needs to provide it to you. This support should be there for you every step of the way, anything less and it is not enough. This means you should have the support of the faculty, or IT, and of course your own one-on-one coach. This coach is there to help you make the right decisions for your career and your education and is also there to give you advice as you need it.
Types of APRNs
The ultimate goal of any nursing career is to become an APRN. There are certainly higher job roles you can go for then being a working APRN, but you cannot actually go higher in terms of rank. Advanced Practice Registered Nurses are at the height of their training. To go any higher is to gain leadership qualifications and to then become the Director of Nursing or another, equivalent role that puts more nurses under your charge.
There are also only four main types of APRNs. Within each type has many different specializations, but to start, you are going to want to know which of the subsets of APRNs is a good fit for you.
Nurse Practitioners make up the bulk of APRNs. They are the ones that work directly with patients and handle their care. Family Nurse Practitioners are in particular very popular. When you complete your choice of online FNP programs, you gain the qualification to care for most patients on an ongoing, everyday basis. This makes you perfect to work at a health clinic, or even can make you eligible to open your own practice, depending on your state’s laws.
Nurse anesthetists provide the anesthesia in multiple settings, from dentistry to surgery. Their work is essential and very demanding, which is why they are also exceptionally well paid. Nurse Anesthetists are the APRNs that make the most out of all nursing types, and earn well over $100,000, sometimes even closer to $200,000 for those at the upper part of the pay range.
Clinical Nurse Specialist
Clinical Nurse Specialists specialize in a field of medicine and are often the ones that work to help develop care plans and improve quality of care for patients. What they specialize in can be in population, in setting, in medical subspeciality, or in type of care.
For example, you can have a pediatrics clinical nurse specialist, a critical care nurse, an oncology specialist, or a psychiatric nurse specialist, and they all fall under the Clinical Nurse Specialist umbrella.
Nurse midwives provide support and healthcare for those throughout their pregnancy. This includes neo-natal care, birth, and post-natal care. Nurse midwives have seen a resurgence in popularity recently, thanks in part to more couples and families turning to midwives rather than hospitals.
Nurse midwives often take on families as a client, rather than have patients come to them. They take house calls and make visits to provide expecting families with the care they need in a comfortable setting.
Where You Can Work as a Nurse
You are not limited to working at a hospital or at a health clinic, despite what you may believe. There are many, many great locations that you can take what you have learned from those online FNP programs and put it to use.
There is no harm in not working in a hospital. You are not doing the world a disservice to say that clinics or ERs are not for you. Your health matters just as much as those you are treating, and your expertise is always going to be in demand regardless of which of these settings you choose to work in.
- Clinic, Various
- Research Institutes
- Schools and Universities
- Event Nurse
- Movie Set Nurse
- Travel Nurse
- And More
The fact is you can find work anywhere where people are. The only thing that changes is whether or not there is money to hire you. Once you start thinking of your career options in that light, you can work almost anywhere, privately, through an agency, or through a hospital or other organization.
Start Your Own Nursing Journey
It takes time to work your way up the career ladder, but that is true for any profession. Unlike other professions, however, you can easily plot your progress by knowing what you want from your career, including where you want to work, and taking the right steps. This way you can make progress in a way that is meaningful for you, and you can help push through the bad times by keeping your eyes on the horizon.
Of course, if you feel like you have mis-stepped, don’t worry! You can always go back. Just because you initially chose online FNP programs does not mean that you cannot go and specialize in something else later. You will instead fast-track your education using your existing MSN and then getting the credits you need to qualify for that new role.
There are so many great places where you can work, and so much good that you can do, so get started with your nursing career today.