What Can I Do with My Nursing Degree? 10 Options In and Out of the Hospital

What Can I Do with My Nursing Degree? 10 Options In and Out of the Hospital

Part of your vision for your future career is clear: You want to become a nurse. But when you think of the setting of your dream job, the mental image is still a little fuzzy.

As it turns out, there are lots of things you can do with your nursing degree, once you earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Plenty of diverse options exist within the four walls of a hospital depending on your personality type and interests. Or, you may choose to venture to apply your BSN to a nontraditional nursing career in a different workplace environment.

No matter which option you choose, Misericordia’s ABSN program can help you get there. Here are 10 options in and outside the hospital that become viable career choices once you earn your BSN.

Before we dive into our list of career choices, it’s helpful to understand why a BSN degree is so valuable to your career.

More Marketability

The healthcare landscape continues to grow more complex, leading to more demand for nursing professionals who understand it. The profession is slated to grow faster than the average for all other occupations through 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This includes a push to hire more nurses educated at the baccalaureate level and beyond, which stems from the 80/20 by 2020 initiative. It requires U.S. hospitals hoping to earn Magnet status to have 80% of their nursing staff baccalaureate-prepared nurses by 2020.

Misericordia University ABSN - Nursing Student

This is coincidentally great news for you: By earning a bachelor of science in nursing, you set yourself up to become an in-demand candidate for many nursing jobs soon after graduation.

More Earning Potential

By earning a BSN, you set yourself up not just for entry-level professional practice but also for career options available to you through graduate-level study. A BSN is a pathway for the advanced degrees required for such higher-paying nursing roles as:

  • Nurse anesthetist: $167,950 average starting salary*
  • Nurse midwife: $103,770 average starting salary*
  • Nurse practitioner: $107,030 average starting salary*
  • Nurse administrator/medical and health services manager: $99,730 average starting salary*

*Source: 2018 U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics

More Career Options

The growing demand for highly educated nursing professionals isn’t limited to hospitals. After earning a BSN, you set yourself up for myriad career options in a variety of workplace settings.

Inside the hospital

Misericordia University - ABSN studentsMost nurses work in some sort of hospital setting: Of the more than 3.0 million registered nurses who worked in the U.S. in 2016, 61 percent worked at state, local and private hospitals, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But not all nursing roles within the hospital are created equal. If you’re considering a nursing career in a hospital setting, you’ll find a variety of specialties, many of which you’ll get to experience as a Misericordia ABSN student. Each comes with an assortment of hours and duties best suited to different lifestyles and personality types.

Medical-surgical nursing

Chances are, if you’ve ever been admitted to or visited someone in a hospital, you’ve had experience with this type of nurse: It is the largest nursing specialty in the U.S., according to the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN).

Medical-surgical nurses create treatment plans, administer medications, provide care, and document everything for acutely ill patients and/or patients recovering from surgery. Because you’ll be caring for patients with all kinds of ailments, this type of nursing requires a vast knowledge of body systems and illnesses as well as high-level critical thinking and management skills.

Critical care/ICU

Nurses who work in the intensive care unit (or the neonatal or pediatric intensive care unit for patients under the age of 17) treat patients who require high-acuity care. Their shifts are very structured, as they are often working with patients who require intubation and/or the use of a ventilator or medication drip. For this reason, this specialty is for you if you’re detail-oriented, organized and enjoy developing relationships with patients and their families.

Emergency room

While not every day is like a plotline from the classic medical drama “ER,” working as a nurse in the emergency room does offer a great opportunity for adrenaline seekers and those who love organized chaos. Your patients will run the gamut, ranging from those who suffer from fractured bones to strokes and gunshot wounds. Your primary role will be to triage them in order of life-threatening priority.

Labor and delivery

Working as a nurse on the labor and delivery unit, you’ll get to experience the miracle of childbirth nearly every shift. Your job duties will include coaching mothers through the birthing process during active labor and preparing new parents to take their children home.

While this type of nursing is mostly joyful, you have to be ready for any birthing complications, so excellent patience, empathy and communication skills as well as the ability to remain calm under pressure are vital.

Operating room nurse/perioperative or scrub nurse

You’ve likely met this type of nurse if you’ve ever gone in for any kind of inpatient or outpatient medical procedure. Operating room nurses work one-on-one with patients to get them through surgery from preparation to recovery. This type of nursing is great if you like instant gratification, as you’ll often work with medical professionals across a variety of specialties to address a specific problem and see the immediate results of your work.

These are far from all the types of nursing roles you’ll find in a hospital setting. Other specialties to consider include:

  • Rheumatology
  • Neurology
  • Oncology
  • Post-anesthesia care
  • Telemetry
  • Cardiovascular
  • Radiology

Outside the hospital

A hospital or a doctor’s office isn’t the only place you can apply your BSN to your career. If you’re open to working independently in a variety of workplace settings, you can use your nursing degree to find a job that allows you to flex your nursing muscles in different ways. Consider these other nursing jobs outside the hospital.

Travel nurse

Why not travel to new and exciting places while building up your nursing resume? Travel nursing allows you to do just that. If you’re interested in pursuing this career path, first start by contacting a travel nurse staffing agency, which can help you land a contract ranging from a couple of months to a couple of years. You’ll likely need a couple of years of experience in your specialty area before you can expect to accept your first contract, though, as healthcare facilities who hire travel nurses prefer candidates who can hit the ground running.

Nurse case manager

Are you interested in developing long-term relationships with your patients? A nurse case manager oversees extended care plans for patients who require ongoing medical care, such as geriatric or cancer patients. This person coordinates doctor’s visits and surgeries, monitors medication usage as well as educates and acts as emotional support for patients and their caregivers. You can apply for this role in a wide range of settings: hospitals, clinics, private practice, nursing homes, hospice care, or even home healthcare companies.

Home health nurse

Do you prefer to work independently in a variety of environments? If so, then home health nursing may be a career option for you to consider. Working for either a hospital or an independent agency, you’ll make house calls to treat people recently discharged from the hospital or suffering from chronic conditions. You’ll often act as a liaison between patients and their doctors, teaching patients and their family how to manage their care needs while offering recommendations to physicians for their next steps in care.

Public health nurse

Think of this nursing role as being a community healthcare ambassador. Rather than care for people when they’re sick, you’ll go into communities to help people improve their health and prevent disease. For example, you may work to offer screening services, immunizations or provide prenatal/baby care or give presentations on health-related topics in community settings.

Legal nurse consultant

Not all lawyers understand the medical jargon involved in medical malpractice or criminal cases involving injuries. That’s where legal nurse consultants come in. A person in this role helps bridge the gap between medicine and law, often assisting with gathering and studying evidence, analyzing medical research and serving as an expert witness, among other duties for law firms, insurance companies, or government agencies, according to the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants.

Informatics nurse

Woman standing by monitor - Misericordia University

Do you love technical troubleshooting as much as you love caring for patients at the bedside? A career as an informatics nurse combines both. In this role, you’ll create systems to improve patient care, using tools like electronic medical records or computer code to monitor the effectiveness of medical equipment and train clinical staff on how to use new devices.

It’s a high-demand path, too: as many as 70,000 nursing informatics specialists/analysts may be needed in the next five years in hospitals, consulting firms, universities, and corporations.

Other specialties to consider include:

  • School nurse
  • Flight nurse
  • Nurse risk manager
  • Nurse recruiter
  • Clinical research nurse
  • Nurse writer
  • Forensic nurse

BSN: A Solid Start for Any Nursing Career

If you’ve been asking yourself:

“What can I do with my nursing degree?”

The answer is nursing is an in-demand career path not limited to the hospital setting, and your BSN from Misericordia University can take your nursing career wherever you want it to go. Whether you want to work as a nurse in a hospital emergency room or as a legal nurse consultant, our rigorous, 16-month curriculum aims to ready you with the key nursing skills and knowledge needed to succeed.

Contact one of our dedicated admissions counselors today to start putting your nursing future into clearer focus.

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