Career Paths After Accelerated Nursing Degree

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Key Infor­ma­tion:

  • Grad­u­ates of accel­er­at­ed nurs­ing pro­grams can become reg­is­tered nurs­es (RNs), nurse prac­ti­tion­ers (NPs), clin­i­cal nurse spe­cial­ists (CNSs), cer­ti­fied nurse anes­thetists (CRNAs), cer­ti­fied nurse mid­wives (CNMs), nurse edu­ca­tors, or nurse admin­is­tra­tors.
  • There is a sig­nif­i­cant demand for advanced nurs­ing pro­fes­sion­als, dri­ven by the grow­ing health­care needs and the aging pop­u­la­tion. Careers such as nurse prac­ti­tion­ers and nurse anes­thetists are par­tic­u­lar­ly in high demand.
  • Depend­ing on the career path, nurs­es may need a Mas­ter of Sci­ence in Nurs­ing (MSN), Doc­tor of Nurs­ing Prac­tice (DNP), and board cer­ti­fi­ca­tions from orga­ni­za­tions like the Amer­i­can Asso­ci­a­tion of Nurse Prac­ti­tion­ers (AANP) or the Amer­i­can Nurs­es Cre­den­tial­ing Cen­ter (ANCC).

Going for an accel­er­at­ed nurs­ing degree can be a life-chang­ing deci­sion, espe­cial­ly if you plan to get a new career path. With such a pro­gram, you can get proof of edu­ca­tion in half the time you would have got­ten the tra­di­tion­al one. This makes it the per­fect option for those who already have a day job or oth­er life com­mit­ments and don’t have the time to fin­ish a tra­di­tion­al 4‑year program.

That said, once you have your degree in hand, what career paths are avail­able for you? One thing is for sure: advanced nurs­es are in high demand. By get­ting an accel­er­at­ed nurs­ing degree, you can prac­tice as a reg­is­tered nurse (RN) and open sev­er­al oth­er career oppor­tu­ni­ties. Whether you want to be a nurse prac­ti­tion­er, nurse anes­thetist, or even a cer­ti­fied nurse mid­wife, this arti­cle will go over some pop­u­lar nurs­ing degree jobs.


The Value of an Accelerated Nursing Degree

Accel­er­at­ed nurs­ing degrees, also referred to as fast track nurs­ing pro­grams, were designed to help you obtain advanced nurs­ing roles in less time. As these pro­grams are fin­ished in an aver­age of 2 years, they are an excel­lent choice for those who want to enter the work­force faster.

The cur­ricu­lum is inten­sive and requires a lot of ded­i­ca­tion, but it helps stu­dents slip into their advanced nurs­ing roles much faster. Depend­ing on the degree you go for, they offer an expand­ed scope of prac­tice, a high­er poten­tial for earn­ing, and the pos­si­bil­i­ty to spe­cial­ize in a spe­cif­ic domain. They are the per­fect choice to start a career as a nurse and advance even fur­ther in the health­care industry.


Career Tracks after an Accelerated Program

There are var­i­ous nurs­ing career paths to con­sid­er once you get your degree. The most pop­u­lar include the following:

· Nurse Practitioner (NP)

Per­haps one of the most reward­ing jobs you can have after receiv­ing your advanced nurs­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is that of a nurse prac­ti­tion­er. Tech­ni­cal­ly speak­ing, with this job, you are a nurse. Prac­ti­cal­ly speak­ing, this job lets you per­form sim­i­lar­ly to a physi­cian. You do get to pro­vide patient care, but you can also offer clin­i­cal exper­tise while receiv­ing a high­er auton­o­my degree.

By choos­ing nurse prac­ti­tion­er careers, you can diag­nose and treat dif­fer­ent con­di­tions, pre­scribe med­i­cine, per­form dif­fer­ent med­ical pro­ce­dures, and offer patient coun­sel­ing. This can be done any­where, whether in a hos­pi­tal, a pri­ma­ry care clin­ic, or even your own practice.

Nurse prac­ti­tion­ers can spe­cial­ize in var­i­ous areas, which allows them to align their careers with their spe­cif­ic inter­ests. You can work as a fam­i­ly nurse prac­ti­tion­er, where you can cater to fam­i­lies for a vari­ety of fam­i­ly issues. Pedi­atric nurse prac­ti­tion­ers focus on children’s health, and adult-geron­tol­ogy NPs offer care for adults or old­er peo­ple. There are numer­ous nurs­ing spe­cial­iza­tions you can get in this domain, depend­ing on your preferences.

· Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)

As a clin­i­cal nurse spe­cial­ist, your job is to offer a com­bi­na­tion of direct patient care, lead­er­ship, and research to enhance health­care deliv­ery. Your job here is to take care of the patients, devel­op com­pre­hen­sive care plans, and offer expert advice to your peers in com­plex mat­ters. Your role will be pret­ty much that of a men­tor, and because of that, you will fre­quent­ly have to engage in research to improve your knowledge.

While you can have a wide array of knowl­edge as a clin­i­cal nurse spe­cial­ist, it doesn’t mean you have to be all-know­ing. In fact, most CNSs have a spe­cial­ty that allows them to focus on a cer­tain area, bring­ing more exper­tise to the table. If you choose this career, you can spe­cial­ize in oncol­o­gy, geron­tol­ogy, car­di­ol­o­gy, men­tal health, or what­ev­er spe­cial­ty inter­ests you the most.

· Certified Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

Any type of surgery requires anes­the­sia, but that can be a del­i­cate mat­ter for some patients. So, this calls for expert care. Around 69% of patients pre­fer gen­er­al anes­the­sia over the region­al kind, but when admin­is­tered incor­rect­ly, it can lead to var­i­ous side effects.

For this rea­son, aside from admin­is­ter­ing anes­the­sia, a cer­ti­fied nurse anes­thetist must also per­form patient assess­ment, check their his­to­ry, and eval­u­ate poten­tial risks. They will have to mon­i­tor a patient’s vital signs and respons­es through­out the pro­ce­dure while offer­ing post-anes­the­sia care. As a CRNA, you will be trained to pro­vide emer­gency respons­es should a patient have an unex­pect­ed reac­tion to the anesthesia.

To become a CRNA, the first step starts with a Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence in Nurs­ing (BSN) degree, obtain­ing your RN license right after that. To go for­ward into advanced prac­tice nurs­ing, you will also have to get about 1 to 2 years of expe­ri­ence in crit­i­cal care. Once that is done, you can com­plete an accel­er­at­ed pro­gram to earn your degree, pass­ing your nation­al cer­ti­fi­ca­tion exam to become a CRNA. Once you have your state licen­sure in hand, you can start prac­tic­ing as a nurse respon­si­ble for admin­is­ter­ing anesthesia.

· Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)

Women in rur­al areas have a high­er preva­lence of home births, either because there are no hos­pi­tals near­by or they can­not afford to stay in one until their birth. Many of these women go for a mid­wife to help them give birth safe­ly. As a cer­ti­fied nurse mid­wife, you will focus main­ly on a woman’s repro­duc­tive sys­tem while putting an empha­sis on preg­nan­cy care.

A cer­ti­fied nurse mid­wife has numer­ous respon­si­bil­i­ties, from offer­ing pre­na­tal care to deliv­er­ing the child and offer­ing post­par­tum care. They also per­form gyne­co­log­i­cal exams for con­tra­cep­tive coun­sel­ing, pap smears, and help ladies man­age menopause symp­toms. With this job, you will be assist­ing numer­ous women who don’t have access to hos­pi­tals to go through the mir­a­cle of life.

· Nurse Educator

Nurs­es are in high demand nowa­days, main­ly due to the lim­it­ed num­ber of trained per­son­nel. It is not pre­cise­ly that peo­ple don’t want to be nurs­es, but the short­age of nurse fac­ul­ty mem­bers can make it dif­fi­cult for some­one to get their edu­ca­tion. This is why insti­tu­tions are des­per­ate­ly look­ing for spe­cial­ists to teach the trade, poten­tial­ly bring­ing this short­age to an end.

Once you gain a cou­ple of years of clin­i­cal expe­ri­ence, you are on your way to becom­ing a nurse edu­ca­tor. After you get your grad­u­ate degree and per­haps take a cou­ple of teach­ing class­es, you can pass on the knowl­edge to nurs­ing stu­dents in col­lege. You could also do nurse edu­ca­tor jobs at teach­ing hos­pi­tals, help­ing stu­dents get through their rotations.

· Nurse Administrator (NA)

If you want to be a nurse but don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly want to spend your entire day at a patient’s bed­side, then the nurse admin­is­tra­tor role might be the best choice. You may be advo­cat­ing for a patient’s needs and rights, but your role is more of an admin­is­tra­tive level.

As some­one in such a role, you will be respon­si­ble for train­ing, recruit­ing, and super­vis­ing a facility’s nurse staff. You will be deal­ing with bud­gets, imple­ment­ing poli­cies, and lead­ing qual­i­ty improve­ment ini­tia­tives. Your role is to ensure that every­thing goes smooth­ly with the nurs­ing staff, which makes con­tin­u­ous edu­ca­tion recommended.

Licensure and Certification

If you aspire to be in an advanced role as a nurse, you will need a few licens­es and cer­ti­fi­ca­tions besides the BSN. Most advanced roles will require you to get a Mas­ter of Sci­ence in Nurs­ing (MSN), but cer­tain paths, such as CRNA or NP, might ask for a Doc­tor of Nurse Prac­tice (DN) degree.

Board cer­ti­fi­ca­tions might be required as well, most of them giv­en through the Amer­i­can Asso­ci­a­tion of Nurse Prac­ti­tion­ers (AANP) or the Amer­i­can Nurs­es Cre­den­tial­ing Cen­ter (ANCC). Keep in mind that the Advanced Prac­tice Reg­is­tered Nurse (APRN) License might also be required from the state board. If you already have a career plan in mind, you should check the state laws and the institution’s require­ments so you can be ful­ly pre­pared for what’s to come.

Nurs­ing prac­tice has changed a lot over the past cou­ple of years, pri­mar­i­ly due to tech­no­log­i­cal and cir­cum­stan­tial rea­sons. Tele­health has dou­bled in pop­u­lar­i­ty since 2020, and you don’t even need your own clin­ic to offer advice to patients. With arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence becom­ing more preva­lent, health­care careers are no longer as dif­fi­cult to achieve. That’s because AI sys­tems make the data more acces­si­ble to go through.

Con­sid­er­ing these advance­ments, the best time to become a nurse is now. With the aging pop­u­la­tion, accord­ing to the Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics, it is expect­ed that the need for nurs­es will grow even more, regard­less of their spe­cial­ty. Nurse prac­ti­tion­ers are most in demand, but oth­er career paths can bring more ben­e­fits depend­ing on where you get your specialty.

The Bottom Line

The health­care sys­tem holds a lot of promise, espe­cial­ly if you want to be a nurse. With only one accel­er­at­ed nurs­ing degree, you can become a reg­is­tered nurse, a nurse prac­ti­tion­er, a mid­wife, and even explore edu­ca­tion­al or admin­is­tra­tive paths. You need to care­ful­ly research the pro­gram and its require­ments and take the plunge to advance your career!


Nation­al Library of Medicine

Nation­al Library of Medicine

Nation­al Library of Medicine

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Nation­al Library of Medicine