Continuing Education for Nurses
Nurses who have graduated with either a nursing diploma or an associate’s degree in nursing are eligible to get themselves licensed by the board of nursing in their state of choice. Once this has been done, they will then become licensed practical nurses (LPN) or registered nurses (RN), depending on the type of licensing examination that had been undertaken.
Those who wish to enter the working world will then start with an entry-level nursing job and will continue with a career in task-based nursing. Registered nurses can then proceed to apply for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Armed with a BSN degree, these nurses gain a better chance to advance in their careers, which leads to higher salaries. With a few years of working experience, nurses with a bachelor’s degree will have the opportunity to take on administrative roles, with a larger paycheck. However, the pinnacle of a nurse’s career is an advanced practice nurse position or as head of a medical facility, both of which require higher educational qualifications.
Those who have graduated with a bachelor’s degree are equipped with a higher skill level in the areas of communications, critical thinking, and leadership. Thus, the degree naturally serves as a prerequisite to nursing programs that cover consultation, research, and teaching. However, for some advanced practice nurse level positions, a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree is required. Most of these programs last for about two years, while some institutes require working experience of one to two years before allowing entry. Upon graduation, they are usually nationally certified; although certain states require their own licensing prior to practicing healthcare. The advanced practice nurse positions that require an MSN are nurse practitioner (NP), certified nurse midwife (CNM), clinical nurse specialist (CNS), and certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA).
An NP has the authority to diagnose an illness and prescribe medication just like a doctor. NPs are also capable of administering physical or body examinations, performing certain therapies, and conducting certain medical procedures. However, their focus is different from physicians as emphasis is placed on areas such as educating the public, preventing diseases, and promoting general health. Thus, nurse practitioners are known to conduct immunization programs, promote awareness on avertable diseases like arthritis and diabetes, and perform physical therapies for the wellbeing of their patients. It is possible for certified nurse practitioners to earn a yearly income between $78,000 and $84,000 but those with their own practices can generate an income closer to $100,000.
A certified nurse midwife provides healthcare for women with regards to gynecology and childbirth. Nowadays, their job scopes have been expanded to cover numerous other services before, during, and after labor. However, CNMs are not certified to provide family planning advice for couples, pre-conception care, or post-partum care. Certification for these particular advanced practices can be acquired through the American College of Nurse Midwives. Licenses are needed in all 50 states in order for these nurses to practice. It is the norm for most CNMs to earn an average income between $81,000 to $87,000 a year. Their work settings vary from hospitals to birthing centers and even to births at the homes of the clients.
Clinical nurse specialists earn between $73,000 and $78,000 a year and function as clinicians who specialize in a particular area of practice. A CNS helps improve healthcare systems by troubleshooting problems that arise in the system. Often, they produce a standard for the quality of the care provided to different patients of variable fields. These standards vary with the population (geriatrics or children), type of disease or specialty (oncology, nephrology, dermatology), settings (psychiatric care, intensive care), and of course the type of care provided (therapy, rehabilitation). Leadership and management skills are usually required for this job, in addition to the ability to communicate with both the patients and the nurses in order to implement any changes.
Lastly, nurse anesthetists, who are also known as certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNA), administer anesthesia for patients in surgery or childbirth. They are the most demanded of the four advance practice areas and are paid quite well due to their much needed skills. An average annual income for a CRNA is in the region of $127,000 to $150,000. CRNAs administer anesthesia and are responsible for monitoring the patient throughout the procedure. They monitor bodily functions and ensure the comfort and safety of the patient at all times. In addition, they are also responsible for following through with the patient’s recovery after a procedure and also to detect any effects that anesthesia may have on a patient.
Nurses can also continue their pursuit in education by getting a doctorate degree. They can obtain either a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD) or opt for a Doctor of Nursing Practice, a DNP. These doctorates will allow them to pursue a career in clinical and nursing research or a career in teaching in nursing schools. There are many nursing schools, colleges, and universities that offer a BSN, MSN, or PhD in Nursing and it is up to candidates to figure out which program they wish pursue. With plenty of funding for nursing degrees and scores of scholarships available, it is now quite reasonable to get an advanced nursing education.
What’s more, with a lot of online programs offering nursing degrees as well as accelerated programs, nurses are able to spend less time in school and more time at work. As the admission requirements of each program are different, candidates should not despair if they have yet to obtain an opportunity to advance their nursing education. With the many options available, they can always look elsewhere for alternatives. In this line of work, the only way anyone can get stuck in the same job for years is if they do not endeavor to work their way up the career lines.
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