Before you begin your nursing education, you will need to select a direction for your degree and tailor it to your desired future position. Some of the most common degree levels sought in nursing include the BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing), MSN (Masters of Science in Nursing), FNP (Family Practitioner Nurse) and DNP (Doctorate of Nurse Practitioner).
BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing)
The BSN degree takes four to five years to earn and requires a background of anatomy, physiology, chemistry, psychology and algebra. A range of nursing positions are available with a BSN, including RN (registered nurse) surgical nurse and ICU nurse.
Advanced, experienced nurses are needed in hospital settings like emergency rooms, surgical wards or the maternity ward. Candidates with a BSN may also specialize in obstetrics and gynecology (OBGYN) and hospice care. While nursing job opportunities can be found in hospitals and clinics across the nation, there are also nursing jobs in the armed forces, correctional facilities and in public health.
A small sampling of what BSN graduates might become includes:
- A nurse anesthetist
- Clinical nurse specialist
- A nurse practitioner
MSN (Masters of Science in Nursing)
A master’s degree in nursing is an advanced degree that requires about two additional years of schooling beyond a bachelor’s degree. Once achieved, the candidate will be able to work in any of the jobs described above for those with a BSN; however, they will also be able to teach nursing at educational institutions.
MSN graduates might become:
- A nurse administrator
- Senior positions in the surgical ward or emergency room
- Independent practice
Those with an MSN also often go into health administration as a manager or supervisor.
RN to MSN: One often-overlooked education track is a currently employed nurse who works extra hours to get their Master of Science in Nursing. Schools like Sacred Heart offer a RN to BSN to MSN program specifically tailored to those with this powerful goal. It requires fewer MSN classes and allows students to take graduate level classes at an undergraduate tuition rate.
FNP (Family Practitioner Nurse)
A family nurse practitioner (FNP) is a registered nurse with a master’s or doctoral degree in advanced practice nursing. They can work with both children and their parents and develop a relationship with the families they treat.
From family practice nurse to public health nurse, this type of professional becomes connected to their community in a positive way. Some of the other specific positions open to a FNP include:
- A pediatric nurse practitioner focused on children’s health
- Neonatal nurse practitioner
- Oncology nurse (assisting patients with cancer)
- Geriatric nurse or
- Psychiatric nurse (assisting patients with mental health issues)
A dialysis/nephrology or anesthesia specialty are also possible, as well as research, advocacy and case management positions for candidates with FNP qualifications.
DNP (Doctorate of Nurse Practitioner)
Those who pursue a doctorate degree in nursing aren’t usually as interested in hands-on nursing. Instead, this person will be suited to and qualified for working in an administrative or research role.
Executive positions in hospitals or clinics as well as medical research are avenues available to this individual, or they might become the director of the nursing department. Management and leadership roles are open to them in hospitals, public health offices and other health care facilities.
Those with a DNP will be able to influence policy at these organizations as well as help to map out the path of research. Teaching positions at educational institutions are also available to those with a Doctorate of Nurse Practitioner degree. However, those with a doctorate who choose to specialize in a specific area like midwifery will be responsible for keeping that certification current in an ongoing manner with the relevant certifying body.
DNP graduates can look forward to these positions:
- University professor
- Clinical director of nursing
- Pharmaceutical Research and Development
Continuing education allows nurses with any type of degree or certification to stay up to date with the latest nursing and medical trends, developments, technologies, best practices and new skills. Each individual is different, and ultimately there isn’t a single plan or program that will fit every person interested in nursing.
Specific requirements and nursing career information also differ from state to state, so where a nurse plans to work should also be factored in so that the state’s board of nursing requirements can be considered and planned for.
Why is Nursing a Good Career?
The field of nursing is wide-ranging and offers a variety of exciting opportunities for those who wish to help others and make a difference in the community. Before starting your educational journey, you should determine a goal, direction and desired employment outcome for the degree.
With proper planning, your educational program can be custom-tailored to bring you efficiently to your ideal future. From BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) to MSN (Masters of Science in Nursing) to FNP (Family Practitioner Nurse) to DNP (Doctorate of Nurse Practitioner), there’s an educational path that’s ideal for where you want to go in your nursing career.
Nursing as a career covers a wide variety of worthwhile and fulfilling positions and Sacred Heart online offers the degrees to match them. Look over the nursing degrees SHU online offers for a better idea of how your goals sync with the correct degree.