Published on May 26th, 2023
When you are ready to explore a nursing career outside a clinical setting, there are multiple paths you can take. One thing that can increase your opportunities and give you an advantage over other nurses is earning a graduate degree.
Many advanced degrees are now available online that can fit into your busy schedule. Earning a master’s or doctoral degree online offers unmatched flexibility so you can continue working and increase your opportunities at the same time.
If you are prepared to explore new nursing career options and looking to earn a better income, there are many nursing careers that take you outside of the traditional medical clinic.
How A Graduate Degree In Nursing Can Open Career Doors For You
Nursing is a challenging but rewarding career, one that allows you to make a marked difference in the life of your patients and their families. While working in a hospital is a common career opportunity, you might be ready for something different than the clinical hospital setting.
Along with fresh work environments and tasks, a graduate degree can help you secure some of the highest-paying nursing jobs. As you enter a new career phase, you can enjoy a higher salary and new work tasks that challenge and expand your expertise.
Carson-Newman University Online offers a range of online graduate degree, such as a Master of Science in nursing, family nurse practitioner and Doctor of Nursing Practice, which can help prepare you for more advanced work opportunities within the field of nursing. Carson-Newman also provides clinical placement assistance to help you arrange clinicals in a convenient location.
Career Paths With An Advanced Degree In Nursing And Healthcare
As an advanced practice nurse, you can still work in a hospital setting if that is your preference, but you will be part of an advanced care team instead of working in bedside patient care. There are also other diverse healthcare settings where your education and experience make you uniquely suited to handle the tasks that require advanced training, such as:
Family Nurse Practitioners
Family nurse practitioner is one of the fastest-growing medical careers in healthcare due to the versatility of this training. A nurse practitioner provides a wide range of healthcare services to all ages. You can find family nurse practitioners in many settings, including pediatrics, cardiology, neurology, dermatology, and other areas.
As a family nurse practitioner, your role includes seeing patients in a medical office and at the hospital. In many states, nurse practitioners can operate independently from the oversight of a doctor. They frequently have medical authority in a medical office and admitting privileges at a hospital.
From infants to senior citizens, family nurse practitioners can perform exams and diagnose physical problems to help patients get better. This role allows you to order lab tests for patients and prescribe medications when needed. When treating patients with chronic illnesses and diseases, you will collaborate with other medical professionals to develop appropriate treatment and care plans for your patients.
Many family nurse practitioners enjoy working with entire families and communities to educate patients on disease prevention and treat medical conditions. This is a rewarding profession that gives you the opportunity to treat many patients throughout their lives, building strong relationships that allow you to gain valuable insight into their lifestyle, which can dramatically aid medical treatments.
A family nurse practitioner is a crucial first-line medical provider similar to many family doctors who become part of a family’s trusted medical team. Developing a warm and open relationship with your patients can become the most important part of your job, helping you to understand their medical and personal needs with increased accuracy.
Family Nurse Practitioners In Underserved Communities
Within the United States, there are many communities without access to qualified healthcare. As a family nurse practitioner, you are ideally suited to fill this growing need for medical professionals to handle the needs of rural and underserved populations.
Bridging this gap for patients of all ages can help lower mortality rates and educate patients on proper disease prevention strategies. Family nurse practitioners are in high demand as the shortage of primary care physicians increases.
Technology is part of every workplace and serves a crucial role in helping medical professionals track patient vital signs, medications, and health progress. Electronic medical records allow medical professionals to have immediate access to a patient’s complete health history, giving them insight that was not previously available.
With the unique perspective a nurse brings to healthcare choices, handling the data, nursing tasks and organization necessary to create a full picture of the patient’s circumstances, an informatics nurse is part of another fast-growing branch in the medical field.
As a nurse with technological aptitude, you help develop data systems that improve patient care outcomes. Combining nursing science with technology lets you apply processes to collect comprehensive results from every part of the patient’s care team and make them available at any time to any provider.
From redesigning nursing workflows to analyzing clinical data, an informatics nurse works to deliver quality evidence-based clinical care to every patient. Some informatics nurses participate in clinical trials and record results while others build systems that are unique to their medical niche.
With the ongoing complexity of nursing care, you can find informatics nurses in surgical centers, rehabilitation centers, specialized medical centers, and hospital settings.
Critical Care Nurse
The role of a critical care nurse is to care for very sick people who are frequently in cardiac, neurological, trauma and surgical units. These critically ill patients have monitors and other machines that a critical care nurse must monitor to ensure the patient stays alive and improves.
They may have multiple IV drips of various medications that are essential to sustain them as they recover. In addition to monitoring the vital signs of patients, critical care nurses may also need to clean and dress wounds, request diagnostic tests, and follow the treatment plan outlined by the physician.
As a critical care nurse, you are the strongest advocate for your patient, ensuring the doctor is informed of the condition and progress of the patient. Caring for critically ill patients requires empathy, and it may also be necessary to educate them, so they understand their physical condition. You can help them learn what the possible outcomes can be as they face decisions that can have long-term consequences.
A critical care nurse undergoes specialized care training that enables them to attend to life-threatening injuries and illnesses. You need critical thinking skills and the ability to make quick decisions in a stressful environment.
Critical care nurses are the main liaison between the doctor, patient, and their family.
If you enjoy teaching and communicating with people, becoming a nurse educator is a great path to consider. Nurse educators work in academic classrooms and hospital settings.
Becoming a nurse educator allows you to teach nursing students about important trends, nursing concepts and critical information as they become nurses. You can also teach nurses who are new to a hospital or unit.
Nurse educators act as mentors to new and experienced nurses who are entering a new work environment and need someone who is trustworthy to help them learn the protocols and practices. This can be a way to develop relationships with nurses who have questions and concerns as they learn a new nursing role and expand their skills.
Your daily responsibilities include teaching and assisting nursing students as they go through their clinical rotations, demonstrating bedside practices and other essentials to help them in their learning journey. You are often tasked with ensuring nursing certifications are up to date by providing instruction in areas where nurses must stay up to date with the latest nursing knowledge.
As you teach new and experienced nurses, you help them follow legal and ethical guidelines that protect them and their patients. The curriculum that you design focuses on current evidence-based care and patient approaches that provide the highest standards of medical care.
Finally, you are an advocate for your nurses, teaching and mentoring them in critical concepts and best medical practices.
Clinical Research Nurse
If you like the idea of being on the cutting edge of research that finds innovative new treatments for diseases and conditions, you may wish to consider becoming a clinical research nurse. In this role you study the life cycle of diseases and other illnesses to determine better treatment approaches for patients who suffer from chronic health problems.
An especially exciting part of the work of a clinical research nurse is collecting data from clinical trials for patients who need life-saving medicines and treatments. Testing existing medications and learning the effects of new ones can advance disease prevention for many people.
A unique aspect of this career is acting as a liaison between drug companies and patients to ensure they are treated ethically throughout the process. You oversee safety conditions for patients and ensure the tests follow accepted protocols.
As a clinical research nurse, you are there to answer questions and address concerns patients have during clinical research trials. The data collected can help a vast number of people who suffer from a specific disease.
The clinical research nurse role involves extensive problem-solving, testing hypotheses, adherence to clinical protocols, qualitative and quantitative data collection and ongoing critical decisions about what is best for patients.
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Caring for young patients can be a challenging but rewarding career. Exceptional diagnostic skills and the ability to communicate clearly to your young patients and their families are essential in the role of pediatric nurse practitioner.
From newborn infants to young adults, pediatrics spans a large part of the early life of every person. Since children and even teens have a difficult time communicating what is wrong, you must be perceptive and ask great questions to understand how to help them.
Your role is to teach good health habits to families, so their children thrive. A particular focus in on disease prevention for children and young people so you assess the diet, exercise, mental health and all other areas of your young patients’ lives to instruct them and their families on the best habits to boost their health and wellness.
When you see your patients, you are evaluating their growth rate and developmental milestones. From immunizations to illnesses, you record their health histories for reference later. You also diagnose illnesses and prescribe medications.
Most pediatric nurse practitioners work closely with other medical professionals to provide the best care for young people. An extensive understanding of infants to young adults can give you insight into how to treat their problems and lend a sympathetic ear to their struggles.
Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
A neonatal nurse practitioner is a crucial member of the team that cares for high-risk babies. Infants with low birth weights, physical and heart abnormalities, infections and birth complications need careful attention and insightful care. That is the expertise of a trained neonatal nurse practitioner.
These vulnerable patients are frequently premature and struggle with the effects of very early births. You evaluate their neuromuscular and physical attributes to develop a proper treatment and care plan.
Caring for high-needs babies up to the end of the first month of life entails a lot of specialized attention and medical insight. During this time, they need ongoing diagnostic tests and specialized monitoring with high-tech machines.
While proper feeding and the best care are crucial, you also assist parents who are facing the unexpected with their newborn babies. Caring for these little people and their parents is an important job that delivers unexpected rewards.
Gerontology Nurse Practitioner
The aging process is part of every life, and many older people need specialized medical care during this time of life. Currently, the baby boomer generation is approaching the golden year when they retire. The influx of older patients will require more gerontology specialists who understand the needs of this population.
As a gerontology nurse practitioner, you focus on people who are in the later years of life. Life and health stressors can take a toll on older people, and they deal with reduced respiratory health, increased susceptibility to infections and chronic illnesses and diseases that decrease their quality of life.
Along with the physical aging symptoms are the mental, emotional, and social aspects of getting older. A gerontology nurse practitioner must consider all the aspects of growing older when treating this population.
Your treatment plans include disease prevention and care for chronic illnesses such as COPD, heart disease and diabetes. As muscle mass decreases and bones weaken, obesity is another common problem in this aging group.
Other problems include falls, broken bones, and elder abuse.
Oncology Nurse Practitioner
Caring for cancer patients is a special skill. As an oncology nurse practitioner, you are a critical part of an oncology team that develops a care plan for cancer patients. Cancer is one of the four diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and strokes, that causes over one-fourth of deaths each year. You work with the patient and their families to help them understand the available treatment options, side effects and possible outcomes.
Your responsibilities include cancer research, direct patient care, disease management and cancer prevention. As you help patients in an advanced practice role, medical advances have led to improved outcomes requiring ongoing management of this disease and its symptoms as patient lives are prolonged.
Evidence-based care is the standard as science and technology produce cancer treatment advances. You record the health status of patients, collect information through lab tests, administer medications and collaborate with the rest of the oncology team about care plan changes.
Among the most highly respected and high-paying nursing careers is the nurse anesthetist. From the start of a surgery until the final sutures, a nurse anesthetist is responsible for the anesthesia of the surgical patient.
Since anesthesia is tailored to many variables, including age, weight and comorbidities, a nurse anesthetist has an important role in surgical procedures. You administer medications and manage pain to ensure the patient remains asleep throughout the surgery.
Monitoring the patient’s bodily functions throughout the surgery is essential as you will increase or decrease the anesthesia depending on their bodily responses. This advanced practice nursing career requires specialized training to administer anesthesia safely and correctly.
A nurse midwife is responsible for a pregnant woman and follows her journey from trying to conceive through to the post-partum period. Many nurse midwives also provide gynecology care to women too.
Your role is to educate women on their reproductive health and teach them how to care for their bodies while they are pregnant. This is a holistic approach to women’s healthcare, focusing on regular gynecology exams, treatment of medical conditions related to women’s health and dispensing medications when necessary.
A nurse midwife may also discuss reproductive health with a woman and her partner and advise them on ways to have protected safe sex.
An advanced practice degree coupled with your clinical nursing skills and experience caring for patients can prepare you to take on many roles in a variety of medical environments. Along with the expanded tasks and new challenges of advanced nursing careers can come enhanced satisfaction in your work and the increased income you desire.