What Can You Do with a Nursing Degree?
Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Job growth—and the various types of nursing careers—will increase for many reasons, including greater emphasis on preventive care; growing rates of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity; and the demand for more healthcare services from Baby Boomers, who are living longer and leading more active lives.
The BLS also reports that by 2022 there will be more than one million jobs open for Registered Nurses, as the result of an unprecedented national nursing shortage. The shortage is occurring due to the need to replace more than one million Registered Nurses who will reach retirement age within the next 10 to 15 years, as projected by the Health Resources and Services Administration.
The demand for healthcare services and the nursing shortage are creating not only numerous job openings but also more opportunities for strong career and salary opportunities.
What Jobs Can You Get with a Nursing Degree?
More types of nursing professionals will be needed to staff a range of healthcare settings and facilities. With patients being discharged sooner from hospitals due to insurance and financial concerns, more people are being admitted to long-term care facilities and outpatient care centers. This means more nurses also will be needed to provide healthcare at home or in residential care facilities. Job growth for nurses is expected in facilities that provide long-term rehabilitation for stroke and head injury patients, and in facilities that treat people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Registered Nurses also are vital in outpatient care centers, which provide same-day chemotherapy, rehabilitation and surgery, and they are needed to manage procedures being performed in ambulatory care settings and physicians’ offices.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) also reports faculty shortages at nursing schools nationwide. With the increase demand for patient care, there will be an even greater need for trained instructors to educate future nurses in many different types of nursing degrees, including the BSN, RN-to-BSN programs and graduate degree programs that help students move into nursing leadership and other specializations.
Choosing nursing as a career offers lifelong professional opportunities.
What Degrees Do I Need for a Nursing Career?
Nursing careers are built with a combination of academic degrees, licensing and certifications.
Start by earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) at a well-respected and accredited institution such as Houston Christian University (HBU). RNs with a BSN degree will have better job opportunities and increased salaries versus RNs with an associate degree in nursing.
After you graduate with your BSN degree, you’ll take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Passing the NCLEX will enable you to become licensed as a Registered Nurse in the state where you want to live and practice. In all states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories, RNs must have a nursing license. Each state’s board of nursing also provides specific requirements to become an RN, which you’ll want to review. For more information on the NCLEX-RN and state boards of nursing, visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.
As you progress in your nursing career, you may choose to become specialized in certain areas of healthcare. This can involve going on for graduate study to earn a master’s degree in nursing. For instance, HCU offers four specialized Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree options:
- MSN – Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in Primary Care
- MSN – Family Nurse Practitioner
- MSN – Nurse Leadership
- MSN – Nurse Education
Registered Nurses also may obtain specialty certifications to demonstrate their expertise and commitment to quality healthcare, as well as to advance their careers and boost their salary. The American Board of Nursing Specialties reports that more than 769,917 nurses in the United States and Canada held certifications, as of 2016. These certifications were granted by 28 certifying organizations and represented 144 different credentials.
For example, a pediatric nurse can obtain board certification or a psychiatric nurse may become certified. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers a wide range of specialty certifications for both nurses and nurse practitioners (NP). Here is a sampling:
- Nurse Practitioner Specialty Certifications: Family NP, Psychiatric-Mental Health NP, Adult-Gerontology NP
- Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) Certification: Adult-Gerontology CNS
- Specialty Certifications: Ambulatory Care Nursing, Informatics Nursing, Nurse Executive, Pain Management, Pediatric Nursing
Obtaining certification is usually voluntary, demonstrating a nurse’s commitment to a high standard of care, but some employers also may require you to earn certifications.
Your Next Steps to Nursing Jobs: BSN Degree
If you’re ready to apply to the BSN program at Houston Christian University, start your application process here.
If you still have questions and want more information, please contact us today. We’re ready to help you take your next steps to earning your BSN degree at HCU.