career paths in nursing

If you are a fan of medical dramas, then you might think that there is only one kind of nurse. But, you cannot be more wrong. There is no typical nurse in the healthcare sector. Nurses are the fundamental block of healthcare, with more than 3.8 million nurses in America alone there are many Career Paths in Nursing. You can also choose to become a home health aide if you want.

Registered nurses do not have to limit themselves to the hospitals. They can work with the patients or lead interdisciplinary teams. Furthermore, technology has evolved the nursing sector. Nursing has become a broad field with many specializations. And the high costs of treatment and shortage of physicians have motivated nurses to rise to the challenge. Nurses are becoming more active members of the healthcare sector. And unlike other professions, nursing does not have a clear trajectory.

There are several levels of education that help individuals reach the top of the hierarchy. All of this can make things overwhelming for someone thinking of entering the sector. But, do not fret because here is an overview of the usual nursing specializations. Keep in mind that some of these roles may require licensing or additional training.

Furthermore, specialized roles require a graduate degree in a related subject. For example, if you want to specialize in family nursing, you should enroll in online DNP FNP programs. These practical tips will help you decide your career path efficiently.

Direct care:

According to research, 60 percent of nurses work in hospitals. They may work in nursing facilities as well as assisted living facilities. These nurses are the ones we commonly see in doctor-centric medical dramas. They monitor their vitals and administer medicine and handle medical equipment.

Therefore, they have more hands-on roles in the healthcare sector. Direct care workers have three categories. They may be nursing aides, home health aides, or personal care aides. Since this is an entry-level position, most direct care nurses only need training and certification. However, some recruiters prefer employees with an undergraduate degree in nursing. According to statistics, only 45% of RNs have college-level degrees.

However, direct care nurses earn less than the median salary. More than 40% of Registered Nurses (RN) work part-time. Therefore, their overall earnings are even less than those who work full time. Despite this, the demand for RNs will continue to rise.

Board certification can help RNs work in specialized roles such as Cardiology and Oncology. Not only do such nurses earn more, but they are also more likely to get a promotion. Furthermore, getting a graduate degree may sharpen the skills and knowledge for RNs to become Nurse Practitioners (NP). Nurses may also look into getting a Master of Public Health degree. Such a degree can enable them to work in nontraditional roles which do not require licensing.


The healthcare sector is evolving, and during this time, there is a demand for motivated, charismatic leadership. Nowadays, nurses play an integral role in a life-saving team. And this is where nurse leaders come in. Nurse leaders are responsible for patient care and safety. They must also monitor the effectiveness of treatment plans and maintain the quality of care. Nurse leaders take charge of policymaking, and they play a vital role in implementation.

On average, more than six nurses work in every unit. And in a large-sized public hospital, this number may be more. Therefore there is a chance of things going wrong. To avoid confusion and chaos, nurse leaders bring people together. Since patient care depends on strong communication, nurse leaders ensure that individual nurses engage with each other. Furthermore, they motivate nurses to improve the quality of care by obeying protocols and policies. Nurse leaders may earn more than $190,000 per annum, depending on their career level.

Nurse leaders may become nurse managers, head nurses, nurse executives, nursing directors, or chief nursing officers. All of these roles require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Some of them may also require graduate-level education. Since nurse leaders need soft skills, many recruiters prefer nurses with dual degrees such as management. The current healthcare system is going through a period of crisis. Nurse leaders can redesign healthcare to resolve emerging problems.


Nurses can also become educators and train the nurses of tomorrow. They are highly skilled with a lot of in-field experience. Therefore they can easily support potential nurses to make the transition from academia to the nursing profession. It is their responsibility to develop the relevant skills in the workforce. Nurse educators often develop courses and curriculum for nursing degrees. These leaders may work in different roles, and their responsibilities will differ accordingly. They may also mentor and coordinating clinical placements. Some of them may train nurses in various specializations such as forensics or assisted life care planning.

As older nurses begin to retire, the demand for more nurses in America will increase in the future. According to one estimate, more than 700,000 nurses will retire within the next three years. They also play a critical role in the training and development of future nurses. Therefore, there will be a lot of demand for nurse educators, and this sector will grow three times faster than average.

Furthermore, high demand will translate into better wages. Experts predict that nurse educators will earn more than $120,000 per annum by 2024.

The primary requirement to become a nurse leader is to have a postgraduate degree from a reputable program. They must also have a nursing license and at least 15 to 30 years of experience. Nurses must pass an examination from the National Commission for Certifying Agencies to become an educator.

The must-haves:

We have discussed a few common career paths in nursing. Let’s focus on the mandatory qualifications to enter the nursing profession. The foremost requirement to practice as a nurse is to get a nursing license. However, each state has its licensing requirements. Consult with the board of nursing to learn about specific requirements. Many states require candidates to pass the NCLEX exam. But, this is a time-consuming process, so remember to plan accordingly.


Nursing is not a one-size-fits-all profession. There are many different roles for people from diverse backgrounds. Students can also opt for alternative nurse careers if they are averse to working in a hospital. They may become travel nurses or work in an office setting. It is vital to explore the career options and then make an achievable plan.

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Joe Maillet
Joe Maillet
Joe Maillet is an avid reader and a writer by heart. He is an author, freelance writer and a contributor writer, who write articles and blogs for various leading online media publications and for CEO and entrepreneurs from across the world. He keeps himself updated with the latest marketing trends and always recognized in the industry for providing solutions to B2B and B2C businesses.

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