Nursing is one of the most challenging yet rewarding career options out there. Helping to take care of others, teaching people how to look after themselves better, and supporting them through some of the most challenging times of their lives isn’t a job that everyone can do. You must have determination, thick-skin, compassion, and an innate desire to make the world a better place through caring for other people.
You can take many paths once you have become a registered nurse, exploring your talents and interests in the medical field further. If you are an RN and are wondering what your options are or are interested in pursuing a career in nursing but want to know more about these opportunities, here are eight examples of great career paths you could pursue.
Mental Health Nurse
Mental health is a very complex issue, and for many years these conditions carried a lot of stigma in society, making it difficult for people to get the right care and understanding that they needed. Today things have changed, and there has become a greater focus on mental health over the last few decades. People now understand how important it is to take care of your mental well-being as well as your physical health.
If this is a topic that you find interesting and are passionate about helping people who suffer from mental health difficulties become a specialist mental health nurse could be a good career path for you. You will be supporting patients with a range of issues from addiction, anxiety, depression, eating, or personality disorders. It certainly won’t be a boring job, and it can help you to better understand the human condition, too.
Another option for registered nurses is choosing to go into elderly care, AKA geriatrics. In these roles, you can expect to help the elderly with their daily care routines; you might have to help wash and groom some more dependant patients, monitor their health and vital signs, administer medications, and help them with exercises to keep up their strength and agility. You may also be required to take them to doctor’s appointments if you work at an elderly care home or retirement community. Geriatrics nurses can work at these residential facilities, hospitals, or clinics, so you have plenty of options to choose from about where you want to work, too.
Family Nurse Practitioner
A family nurse practitioner can provide quality, primary care to family’s similar to how your family doctor might. Although FNP’s can’t do quite the same kind of work as a physician, they can carry out physical exams, prescribe medications, and order diagnostic tests. They tend to work in outpatient clinics in hospitals, or they can be positioned in schools or general healthcare clinics and physician offices. To become an FNP, you will need to achieve the right qualifications as well as already being an RN. You can find out more about this here.
Nurse Unit Manager
A nurse unit manager or Head Nurse is responsible for a team of nurses in a hospital or healthcare center. In this role, your duties will include staff management, recruitment, budgeting, organizing mentoring, scheduling, case management, treatment plans, and so on. This is a great role for someone who has excellent communication skills and brilliant leadership. It can be a high-pressure job, but there are many benefits, including an average annual salary of around $115,160 (though this will depend on where you are based.) You will also need to continue your studies to help you work up your career ladder to becoming a nurse unit manager, and should look at pursuing an MSN (Master of Science in Nursing).
Clinical Nurse Specialist
A clinical nurse specialist is, as the name suggests, a nurse who specializes in a certain kind of care. For example, a CNS who works with cancer patients will have obtained the right qualifications and training that caters to cancer care and support. You could also look at working in pediatrics, emergency care, wound care, or pain management if these areas sound more appealing to you. This is a great choice for individual RN’s who have a particular area of interest that they would like to pursue and work up the career ladder in these departments.
Legal Nurse Consultant
If you’re a nurse with years of experience, looking into becoming a legal nurse consultant might be an interesting turn for your career. You will be able to offer your professional opinions in legal cases that are to do with medical issues, such as malpractice or negligence lawsuits. You will work for your firm, helping to analyze claims and records, organizing timelines and medical records for the attorneys to review and use for their case, conduct client interviews and offer both attorneys and clients education on medical issues that are relevant to the case. This can be a very exciting job, but you will need to gain some formal education in law to help you move into this role as well as your nursing qualifications.
Midwives are very important, especially to expectant mothers who may be nervous or anxious about giving birth or throughout their pregnancy. In this role, you will be providing physical exams, as well as prescribing medications and contraceptives. You will be educating expectant parents on how to care for their child and providing that support before and after birth. Like any specialist role, you will need to become a certified nurse-midwife before you can begin to practice in this area.
Finally, another cool career path that an RN can pursue is becoming an anesthetist nurse. You will administer the anesthetic to a patient before their operation, as well as continue to care for them during the surgery. This is a good role for those interested in the surgical side of medicine and will be comfortable spending long hours in the operating theatre with their patients and medical professionals.
Nursing is an incredibly enriching career, and there are many more options you can explore once becoming an RN. If any of these sound appealing to you, research further about how you can enhance your nursing career.