How to Take a Nursing Qualification to the Next Level

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For many who enter the nursing field, it is more of a vocation than a career choice, and the need to help others makes it one of the most noble professions there is. However, there also comes a time when the front line of nursing can be quite stressful and a step sideways or upwards is something for which you should prepare. 

Whether you are actively looking for new options within your nursing career or you are simply wondering what possibilities currently exist out there, this article will give you a number of ways to take your nursing career to the next level.

Healthcare Management

As a nurse on the front line, you may not have considered yourself to be management material, but there are many options available within the sector. Moving into management has been one of the most common means of progression in nursing. Being able to translate your lived experience and skills of working in the profession into leadership and management of a healthcare unit or sector is the most logical thing to do, especially considering that nurses work in this profession for longer than any other profession. Thus, giving them time to build up a great wealth of experience that can then be used in management and leadership.

The industry itself has also begun to see the benefits of this skill retention, and in fact, the preferred person for a management post in healthcare will always be the person with healthcare experience, as long as the management skills and qualifications are in place. There are a number of options if you are looking to move towards management in the healthcare sector. 

  • Nursing administrator allows for greater flexibility and control of your working hours and greater responsibility in a sector that you love. While being a nursing administrator means you are no longer at the bedside of patients as much as you were as a nurse, you will still be ensuring that the care they provide is of the highest standard by managing and supervising those who provide the care. Job opportunities in this field are expected to rise with a number of different work setting opportunities, such as working in hospitals, healthcare facilities, or laboratories.
  • Doctor of nursing practice is a specialized role that blends together clinical, leadership, organizational, and economic skills to ensure the best patient care across a range of different settings. While there is scope to still provide direct clinical care, many DNPs consider a systems or organizational role that allows them to play a role in administration, management, policy, and leadership. Many traditional courses are available if this is an option you are considering, but there are now excellent online Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees available.
  • Health information managers are not a new requirement in healthcare. However, they have become increasingly important as the size of data held on clients and patients is now so vast and always held off-site in the cloud. It has become a sought-after job for employers and employees alike, and there are a few simple ways to ensure that your nursing career is tech and information ready.

With specific data management courses for healthcare, as well as detailed knowledge of data protection and the healthcare system, you will be able to consider adding this to your nursing qualification to give you a more sustainable career pathway. Technology in healthcare is a definite addition, and being able to understand both the uses and types of patient data and how to keep it safe are now and will be in the future, sought-after skills in nursing.

Professional Care Work

The care sector in America has seen phenomenal growth, and as such, there has been a demand for care professionals. With a nursing background, you will have a fast track into care work, and the current market makes this a good financial decision. There are currently over 3 million registered nurses working in the USA, and research expects demand for registered nurses to grow by at least 5%. A fair amount of this demand will emanate directly from the elderly care and care home sector.

Professional care is currently at the center of a number of factors that are creating a perfect storm. The one problem is that the number of healthcare professionals is decreasing as almost one million professionals are expected to leave the sector in the near future. The second problem is that the number of people requiring professional care is growing, making this an in-demand sector that requires professional personnel. 

If you hadn’t considered care work as a career option before, you might want to think about it now. The changes in the way Americans relate to their physical and mental well-being post the coronavirus pandemic have meant that healthcare professionals are top of the list of fastest-growing jobs in the country. Within that, nurse practitioners, home health and personal care aides, along with physical therapy assistants, are expected to be some of the fastest-growing healthcare jobs over the next ten years.

The switch from pure or specialized nursing into care has been a common one in recent times and can definitely provide the required ease from the stresses of front-line nursing. It is also a logical business choice for those leaving the nursing sector or looking to do something different. 

Volunteering and Sharing

The opportunity to volunteer in areas where nursing skills are required is always a good career move. Emergency care, disaster management, and healthcare provision are the number one opportunities in the current climate. Extreme weather and natural disasters have become the norm, and as such, there is always the need for those who can provide on the ground professional first aid and healthcare support. This will give you an opportunity to learn new skills and experiences that will only improve your own nursing practice.

One of the advantages of having a nursing qualification or experience in the sector is that there are always opportunities to volunteer abroad. If you are looking for adventure and a change in scenery, using your nursing skills can provide you with a great opportunity to see different parts of the world. Be sure to decide on what it is that you are looking for from the volunteer nursing experience. An example is that in a disaster situation or in places of strife, war, or famine, nursing may be a very different consideration than choosing to volunteer as a soccer team’s first aider in a rural American town.

Look locally and decide if it’s a break from work or if it is to be done while you work. This will determine how far you can go and the type of nursing you intend to do. There are also organizations that will allow you to volunteer over the holiday periods, but be sure to confirm the required qualifications and certifications required.

Related to this is the sharing of your own skills with others; as long as you have the relevant trainer qualifications linked to nursing, you will be able to assist, at a local level, local sporting teams, charities, and more – all these need health, well-being, and first aid advice and helpers. This is not necessarily formal training, but to be able to provide the first aid and health skills that are needed in the specific environment, be it a sporting or activity-based environment or simply a school setting.

It may just be a nursing qualification, but as elaborated on further in this article, the demand for professionally qualified nurses is peaking, and as such, the skills held in the sector and by those who have been nursing are now in serious demand both across America as well as on a global scale.

Research

Whether you have a BSN (bachelor of science in nursing) or are an RGN (registered general nurse), by having the practical nursing skills in the nursing sector coupled with these qualifications, you could very well have a future in healthcare research. Choose the field carefully, as you’ll need to give yourself for the long term for any form of health research. By definition, most research in the health sector, unless systems and process related, is long term historical study to define traits and patterns. The emergence of big data, as aforementioned, means that there are now numerous opportunities for desk-top healthcare-related research in almost any field. From medical treatments to financial costs over time, the range of possibilities in health research is endless. 

Health research has a very high value to society and is at the forefront of establishing important information about disease trends and risk factors, outcomes of treatments that have been used, and patterns of care. The first step in becoming involved is to communicate with your current employer or department lead to find out if your organization is involved in any medical or health-related research and then to show and note an interest in participating. There will no doubt be a formal process to enroll or become involved. Alternatively, take an online course where there is a research component, and then you will be able to research the topics and areas that interest you.

Education and Training

It almost seems to be the natural progression of careers such as nursing and teaching, whereby those who have spent a lifetime dealing with human health and well-being challenges are able to share and pass this knowledge on to others. The American Nurses Association has also realized and recognized the use of in-service training and training by working professionals to increase the intake of younger, new nurses. Thus, the opportunities are available if you are interested in participating in the development of the next generation of nurses. There will also likely be extra remuneration in it for those who do become on-the-job trainers.

As noted, healthcare is changing fast with the move to proactive healthcare and the addition of technology, and yet, the requirement for all this to be presented with a human face has put a lot of pressure on the training of nursing and healthcare staff to be able to keep up with these changes. Yes, care of the human body may not have changed that much, and the way we treat certain health conditions or challenges is the same for ages, but the means of diagnosis, communication, and the overall appreciation of proactive health means that this professionalization of nursing will require additional trainers and teachers.

Conclusion

Taking any career to the next level can be a tricky proposition and will require a detailed plan in order to execute this and implement it accordingly. No one wants to be without a job or to move from a job they may not like to one they definitely do not. There is thus a fair amount of research required before any career moves are made. 

The main aspect of nursing that must be kept in the forefront of your mind as you make these decisions is that nursing really is a vocational career. So, as you try to future-proof your career but also enjoy the skills that you have, remember that nursing is still the one long-lasting noble and honorable profession there is. The feel-good factor in being able to help those who really need it should drive what it is you do as a nurse, and this way of thinking will help you to decide the best way forward and who most needs the skills that you have.

Building a career that can sustain the constant changes in modern-day society requires a strategy, and it is in the research and information gathering that you will be able to determine the direction that will suit your career the best. This article has aimed to provide you with a range of options that can be used to take your current nursing qualifications, know-how, and experience to the next level. Make the most of the current growth and expansion in the healthcare sector to develop your career.

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