Studying for a degree in nursing is extremely worthwhile and can take you on many different paths. Nurses are always in high-demand as the population is ever growing and we are learning more and more about how to improve healthcare, so that those who would once have life-limiting conditions can live a long and happy life. If you believe you have what it takes to be a nurse, here are just some of the amazing career opportunities that are open to you once you have qualified.
Mental health awareness is forever on the up, and due to this, more people than ever are accessing mental health services instead of suffering in silence. Becoming a mental health nurse can be a tough choice, but the benefits are worthwhile and assisting someone to overcome their fears and mental health problems is one of the most rewarding feelings you could ever experience. You will be fully trained on how to safehold patients and deal with anything that you may come across. The most common mental health issues that you may see while working in mental health include dementia, personality disorders and eating disorders.
As a mental health nurse, you will be working alongside psychiatrists to treat and assess mental health patients of all different ages and walks of life. You will be able to keep them safe from harm and put a plan in place to allow them to recover. Choosing mental health can open up many other doors too, such as working on a ward as a mental health nurse, in a mental health institution, or even choosing a career in the armed forces.
Pediatrics is another nursing field that many shy away from, as they are afraid of working with sick children, yet children are notorious at fighting illnesses and bouncing back. If you love working with children and have experience doing so, don’t let seeing them sick scare you away! You could be the reason they go to bed with a smile on their face each evening, and if you are great with kids, you will fit well into a pediatric nursing team. It can be difficult at times to deal with your emotions when working with sick children, but there will be plenty of support within your nursing unit if you need it. Being able to help a child and family through one of the most daunting times of their lives will bring a smile to your face at the end of every shift.
As a pediatric nurse, you can work in many different sectors such as ER, general pediatric wards, or you may want to work in a children’s hospital in which there will be many specialty wards. You will assist in assessing, treating and managing a child’s condition until they are fit for discharge. In pediatrics more than any other nursing field, you need to be aware of safeguarding and be constantly looking out for any social issues that may be happening within the family. Your main role is to keep that child safe from harm, and this may mean making hard decisions. No matter what, you must always provide non-judgmental care to the child and their family, even if you suspect a safeguarding issue.
Pediatric nursing isn’t for everyone, and if this is the case for you, choosing a career in geriatrics could be the most sensible choice. Geriatric nurses look after the elderly and focus on anything from nursing those who have had a fall in their home, to those who have dementia or another long-term condition. Geriatric nurses need to understand how to deal with those suffering with dementia or Alzheimer’s in a way that will make them feel safe and in control at all times. You will work alongside other nurses, healthcare assistants and doctors to care for your patients.
As a geriatric nurse, you will be assisting with personal care, feeding, monitoring vital observations, taking bloods, performing other medical diagnostic tests and giving medications. Just as with pediatrics, you will be able to specialize in many different areas depending on what you enjoy during your training. You need to be very patient and caring, especially when dealing with those with dementia as they can become aggressive and this can be very upsetting. You need to ensure not to take anything to heart and do your best by your patient at all times. This will become easier to deal with as you gain experience with patients and see how other nurses work and deal with difficult situations.
Once you are qualified and have a few years of experience in your chosen field, whether this be adults or children, you can then look at choosing a specialty. Some nurses chose to work straight on a specialist ward, whether this be renal, oncology or gastroenterology. If you have found a certain path that you enjoy and find interesting, you can work your way up in this field to become a nurse specialist.
These nurses usually work alongside the medical team and can often help with diagnosing and treating a condition, as well as assessing patients. This is a higher paid role and gives you more control over your patients. It may be that you want to work on the ward you are on now or work all over the hospital site. Some nurse specialists, such as those who work in pain management, epilepsy and diabetics, will work all over the hospital site seeing both inpatients and outpatients. You may even be able to run your own outpatient clinic when you have the necessary knowledge and confidence to do so.
Doctor of Nursing Practice
A DNP degree leads you to the highest position available in nursing, providing you with the maximum wages and best knowledge. There are four main tracks that you can choose from including FNP (Family Nurse Practitioner), Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Executive Nurse or the Nurse-Midwifery Program. Each program is tailored to the specific needs of yourself and what you want to aspire to. Whether you are a nurse on the labor ward looking to advance their knowledge and earn more, or you’re a registered pediatric nurse looking to become a neonatal expert, these online DNP programs allow you to become a leader in your chosen field.
Studying for a DNP in Nurse-Midwifery allows you to provide women-centered, holistic care using a midwifery care model. You will be taught how to care for a pregnant mother throughout the course of her pregnancy and for the first few days after giving birth. As a nurse-midwife, you will also be expected to look after those most at risk, such as complicated pregnancies and births, and have the ability to deal with these emergency situations. An Executive Nurse leader will act as a scholar and a leader to their peers and connect with mentors to be able to do so. This program allows you to apply for jobs that will shape and change the way healthcare is given within your chosen facility. If you have good management skills and you are passionate about changing healthcare, this role may be well suited to you.
An FNP will provide healthcare in a primary care setting such as in a doctor’s surgery. As an FNP, you will be able to provide new treatments to patients of all ages, as well as assess their current condition. FNPs get to see the whole family, ranging from babies to adults, meaning that if you cannot choose which field of nursing you enjoy most, you can choose to do it all. This is also a great career for those who want to work around their own family life, as you will not be working long shifts and night shifts if you choose to work in a surgery. Many nurses choose to do this when they are ready to settle down with their family or if shift work is interfering with their health. You can also choose to work for an agency where you can still pick up shifts on the ward when they are understaffed. This is a great way to keep your ward experience and earn some overtime once in a while.
A Neonatal Nurse Practitioner provides safe care to those under the age of two years, focusing mainly on high-risk neonatal babies and their parents. A background in this sort of care is needed to ensure that you have the right knowledge to do the job. Some programs even allow those studying this program to complete a project abroad, widening your expertise through international research.
If you would prefer to support those in their own homes who have life-long conditions or their needs to be reviewed following a recent hospital admission, you may want to look into becoming a community nurse. You can become a community nurse in both pediatrics and geriatrics, and this role involves visiting people in their home or in assisted living to provide the care and support they need to stay within a place they feel most comfortable. This also means that hospitals are less likely to become overcrowded. Community nurses bridge the gap for patients between hospital and home and provide a variety of care, such as giving insulin to diabetics and taking care of wounds.
If being on a ward isn’t your style of nursing, this is a great way to nurse outside of the hospital as well as provide a great nursing service to those who need it most. You could be responsible for supporting a child or adult to pass away peacefully in their own home with their family – this is a role that takes a lot of compassion and empathy. You will need a full driving license to be able to work as a community nurse and you will often be a lone worker, meaning you will need some experience in a clinical setting to ensure that have the skills and confidence to deal with an emergency situation if you are on your own.
When you think of a scrub nurse, you likely think of the famous U.S. TV show “Scrubs”. A scrub nurse, also known as a surgical nurse, works within theatres, assisting the doctors with clinical procedures. For this role you will be taught how to remain sterile at all times, as any contamination could prove deadly to a patient. You will be taught the certain procedures involved for each operation and how to deal with an emergency situation. This is a very interesting job and you can see many operations being performed every day, from appendectomies to liver transplants. This is a very important role with hygiene at the forefront of all cares.
Scrub nurses often rotate between theater and recovery, providing care while the patient is still under anesthetic. Once they have awoken and have recovered, they will then be sent to the ward to make a full recovery and to be monitored until they can go home. While patients are in recovery, you will be responsible for monitoring their vital signs, as some patients react differently to anesthetic and so need to be fully awake and conscious before heading back to the ward. You may also need to provide pain relief if the patient wakes up in severe pain. Particularly for parents, seeing their child being anesthetized can be a distressing time, therefore you need the communication skills to be able to calm parents during this process. You also need to ensure that you aren’t squeamish to be in this role!
Becoming a nurse is one of the most rewarding careers out there, and while you will have to deal with difficult situations, you will also get to see patients that you have cared for walk out of hospital with their family and a smile on their face. We are all human, and nursing can be upsetting, but nurses are always fully supported should they need it. With so many roles to choose from and nurses constantly being in high-demand, choosing a nursing career provides you with a world of opportunity.