When it comes to helping others, there is arguably no better position than that of a nurse. Nurses are one of the most important positions. Their work is instrumental in healthcare and in society. The pandemic only highlighted how important nurses are and how much nursing as a field needs to be reformed and improved.
Nursing can be a very lucrative, very rewarding career, but only when you find your place within the field. There are so many spots for nurses, both within healthcare and privately. You can really customize your nursing career to suit your interests and find a great niche that pays you well.
Though nursing does require you to earn formal degrees in order to get started and then advance, it’s actually very straightforward because of this fact.
Tips to help you choose the right nursing degree
If you are just getting started in nursing, then you have three main paths to becoming an RN. You can always get started in healthcare and get trained as either a Certified Nursing Assistant or Licensed Nurse Practitioner first, but to really kickstart your career, you will want either an Associate’s Degree in Nursing or ideally a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
The Associate’s Degree in Nursing
The Associate’s Degree in Nursing used to be the go-to nursing degree for those who wanted to become nurses. It was one of the first degrees widely available, and many RNs held an Associate’s Degree in Nursing their entire career. Though the ADN is still in circulation today, it is no longer the recommended approach for those looking to become nurses. This is because many states are trying to phase out the Associate’s Degree altogether and also because the results are simply better. Having more nurses with BSN degrees reduces the mortality rate amongst patients, making it the better choice for everyone.
That being said, there are still reasons why you may want to earn an Associate’s Degree in Nursing instead of a BSN. To start, you can get started working as an RN in two years instead of four. You can also opt for an integrated degree that allows you to earn your BSN and MSN at the same time, making you a qualified APRN.
If you are just getting started with nursing, however, you will ideally want to begin with either a full- or part-time BSN or an accelerated BSN.
The Full Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing
If you don’t have a degree already and are just getting started with your first career, then you will want to go for the full BSN. You can complete this full time, or you can work around your BSN if working while you study is important and necessary for you. There are different institutions that offer either option, allowing you to complete your BSN at your own pace.
The Accelerated Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing
If you are going into nursing from another career, then you may be able to choose the accelerated path. All you really need to enroll in a top online accelerated nursing program is a bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 GPA in any subject, a plan in place for your future as a nurse, and a few references.
The accelerated degree allows you to transfer credits you likely already have. You avoid repeating credits you already have or earned individually before you start the program. In exchange, you can graduate sooner and be prepared to earn a full RN license when you graduate.
Other unique nursing degrees to consider
As you move up into your MSN or further, you will have a variety of education options simply because of the sheer number of specializations you can choose. Though the specializations themselves will distinguish one MSN from another, there are a few unique paths to keep in mind for when you map out your nursing career.
The integrated MSN degree
You can earn a non-nursing MSN and a BSN at the same time. These integrated MSN degrees will qualify you to work as an RN and also give you an additional certification in an administrative role, like leadership. These integrated degrees are relatively new overall but are a good option for those who want to get involved in a leadership position early on.
The ADN to MSN degree
Many nurses who still have an ADN will eventually need to upgrade their degree to a BSN. This is part of the “BSN in 10” program that was designed to get all ADN nurses into BSN qualifications within the decade. Rather than just stick with a BSN, you should look at the integrated ADN to MSN degree. You save time and money by combining both of the degrees and can graduate prepared to take the next exam to become an APRN.
The DNP, EdD, or PhD
The MSN is not the final degree that a nurse can earn, though it may be the last one you personally are interested in. The DNP is a great way to stand out amongst your peers and can also prepare you for executive leadership positions like starting your own clinic or becoming the Director of Nursing at your hospital.
The EdD or PhD, on the other hand, are ideal if you want to get started with teaching the next generation. Nursing in primary care can be very taxing, but if you still want to help and make a difference, you can by transitioning into higher education.
One of the issues facing nursing and the nursing shortage today is a lack of qualified educators. By moving out of primary care nursing when you can no longer manage the stress or muster the energy that you need in order to do your job well, you can continue to enrich your life and society. You can also work in research, policymaking, and more and make a difference without working directly with patients in need.
Nail every nursing career with these top tips
Every degree that you take on throughout your nursing career needs to be approached with the same care and dedication. You do not want to cram, you do not want to put yourself through massive amounts of stress, and you definitely do not want to stretch yourself too thin. To help you nail every nursing career that you take on, we have put together a few top tips to get started.
Do your due diligence when it comes to choosing your degree
There are a few essentials when it comes to your degree and what it needs to have. At minimum, it needs to be accredited and recognized by your state’s licensing committee. This is very important for nurses because not every degree will be recognized in your state. You will likely not be able to enroll in programs if you do not qualify based on your residency, but just in case, always check in advance that the degree can be used to achieve your goals.
You will also want to narrow down your options based on the real feedback given by alumni. There are review sites and ranking boards that you can do this with. For insider information and unique tips and tricks that apply directly to your program, try to get in touch with a recent graduate.
Be realistic with what you can achieve
Not everyone can balance a career with a degree, even if that degree is online and specifically designed to be done around a job (even nursing). Similarly, not everyone can commit to a degree full time for a number of reasons.
The first tip for success is to be realistic about what you can do and how you work best. If you work best when you commit yourself fully and can make it work, then do it. It doesn’t matter if you know other people who are continuing their careers while they further their education. The only thing that matters is that you have put your own needs and strengths first and have approached your nursing degree in a way that suits you.
Start to improve your health and wellbeing
You want your brain to be sharp and your body able to handle working while you study. To achieve both of these goals, you simply need to start looking at your health and wellbeing. While everyone should consider professional help and guidance at one point or another, a great way to begin is right at home.
By working to improve your health and your routine, you can take care of many personal issues on your own. Anything that is left over that is cause for concern should then be taken to a professional for advice and guidance or for a more hands-on treatment.
Every person’s mental health and physical health needs vary, but overall, you will want to improve your diet, get more exercise, and get a better night’s sleep.
These three options make it easier for your body to perform its everyday functions. Exercise, sleep, and nutrients also work to improve cognitive function, making it easier to think, easier to memorize, and easier to learn.
It will be a journey to understand what works for you and what doesn’t. A tip that will help everyone with their journey is that you need to be consistent. Try to set yourself on a new routine so that you can continuously do better for your health. Not only will this help you adjust to a new routine, but it can also help your body work with you as well. One of the biggest tips to help you get a better night’s rest is to simply go to bed early and at the same time every day so that your circadian rhythm can adjust and work with you instead of against you.
Working with how you learn best
Everyone understands information in different ways. This goes beyond tactile, visual, and auditory learners. The reality is that everyone learns through their senses, but how they understand information is based on their personal experiences. Don’t rely on what textbooks tell you. Ask questions and write your own notes. It doesn’t matter if the way you explain a topic to yourself is silly or long-winded, so long as it helps you understand the information.
When it comes to nursing, understanding the information is always going to be more important than trying to cram it all in before the test. Passing your exam is critical for you to earn or renew your nursing license, yes, but if you understand the information first, you will remember it for a lot longer than if you just tried to memorize it all.
Learn with others
One of the reasons why correspondence degrees never took off is because it was isolating. Getting your coursework sent to you in the mail and sending it back is the furthest thing from social. While some may work well in that situation, most don’t.
That is why you need to make sure that your education is as social as it can possibly be. While online degrees do naturally contain social elements, you will want to go one step further and either start or join study groups with your peers.
Breaks have been confirmed to help with productivity and memory. If you try to jam too much in and force yourself into a situation for long periods of time without a break, you may end up losing more information than you are learning.
Breaks give our minds a break, can help us rest, and can help us go for longer overall than just trying to sit and get it all done in one go ever will.
That being said, what you do on your break and how you spend it matters. When you take a planned break, remember to drink a glass of water and have a healthy snack if you are hungry. If the weather is nice, try to go outside or even stretch. This will give your body a refresh and can help your mind reset, ready for another study session.