3 Things to Consider When Deciding What Type of Nurse You Want to Be

For many who are not familiar with the various jobs, responsibilities, and career paths available to nurses today, the role of a nurse can seem rather one-dimensional. It is mistakenly assumed that nurses are simply there to assist physicians as they administer healthcare and call all the shots. However, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Nurses are essentially the backbone of the healthcare system as it is today. With the amount of care that they administer and their experience, their roles are varied and incredibly significant to bringing about positive patient outcomes. Moreover, by obtaining specified experience and advanced degrees, nurses can rise to higher positions of responsibility and power within the healthcare system structure.

Some types of nurses can and do the practice without being under the supervision of a physician. Anyone who wishes to become a nurse will have their fair share of options to consider regarding their specific career path. 

That being said, the options that will become available to you as a nurse are going to be dictated by the manner in which you get your start in the world of nursing. While there are always ways of bridging your education and experience so that you can take your career farther, anyone who sets out knowing that they want to become an advanced practice nurse, for example, will want to tailor the education to reaching that goal.

With so many options available to nurses today, it can be difficult to figure out right from the start exactly what kind of nurse you would like to be. If you are about to begin your journey on the road to becoming a nurse, here are three things that you should consider as you make your decision.

1. How Quickly You Want to Start Practicing

Even though the most common type of nurse by far is called a registered nurse (RN), there are actually several different ways that you can enter the field of nursing. Generally speaking, this decision is dictated by the amount of time that you are willing and able to spend on becoming a certified nurse in the first place.

Some people look to enter the field as quickly as possible for various reasons. If this is a priority for you, you can consider getting your certification as a licensed practical or vocational nurse (LPN/LVN). While these nurses have lower earning potential and less responsibility than an RN, they are still important healthcare team members. 

It is possible to become certified as either an LPN or an LVN in one to two years. However, this isn’t the only option available to nurses looking to get certified quickly. You can also consider earning an associate degree in nursing (ADN) so as to become fully qualified as an RN in around two years. Otherwise, you might consider earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree via any of many accredited accelerated nursing programs online.

2. Career Progression

The next thing that you will want to consider as you decide on what type of nurse you would like to be is the career progression you see for yourself. There are many nurses who enter the field as an RN and choose to either specialize in a certain area of medicine via specific training and certification programs or to remain an RN as their true calling.

However, there are a great number of career advancement possibilities that are available to nurses these days. From roles in hospital administration to those of advanced practice registered nurses, you might wish to set yourself up for career advancement right off the bat.

If this is the case, then you should certainly look to become an RN initially. Furthermore, anyone looking to become an advanced practice nurse of some kind will need to earn a graduate degree along the way. To qualify for graduate degree programs, you will most likely need to hold a BSN first.

While there are a number of programs out there that have been designed to help nurses bridge their education so as to complete a BSN after earning an ADN, it might save you more time and effort in the long run if you choose to earn your BSN initially on your way to becoming certified as an RN.

3. Job Setting

Even though when most people picture a nurse, they envision an RN working in a hospital; there are actually various settings in which nurses can choose to work. While a hospital is above and beyond the most popular choice, there are plenty of others to consider that can play a significant role in your decision about the type of nurse that you want to become.

Some nurses work in schools, in private healthcare clinics, and even on helicopters as transport nurses. Furthermore, deciding to work in a hospital means deciding what sort of department you wish to work in. The environment of an emergency room is vastly different from that of the intensive care unit. It is important to consider the environment as you decide on the type of nurse you want to become.

You might even find that you don’t wish to work in a direct patient care role as your career progresses. Many nurses choose to take their education, experience, and knowledge outside of the clinical setting altogether to fill different roles. Some of these roles might be more researched based in nature and require you to work in a lab. Others involve mixing healthcare and policy to bring about positive change in that regard. Those who can affect healthcare policy play an incredibly significant although often underappreciated role in the world of medicine as a whole. 

Hopefully these three tips have given you some ideas on what type of path that you want to take, as you embark on your nursing career. Of course, your plans may change as you get further into your training, so keep your options open.