In the last decade, demand for qualified nurses has been increasing, and the pressure of a global pandemic on healthcare systems has exacerbated the nursing shortage even more. Nurses are an indispensable part of medical facilities and account for the largest population of healthcare workers.
As the popularity of the nursing profession is increasing, nursing educators, colleges, and universities are trying to accommodate the demand by offering online nursing courses to enable remote learning. Anyone who is considering pursuing a nursing program, whether they plan to go online or in-person, first needs to look into the following modes of nursing programs:
N degree is pursued right after high school. It is a diploma program in practical nursing and will train a person in general nursing courses. The course duration varies from 12–18 months. An LPN can later go for advanced nursing programs or bridge programs.
- Registered Nurse or RN
One can become an RN by clearing a two-year associate degree program and be known as RN-ADN, or they can complete a four-year bachelor in nursing program and be called RN-BSN. One has to clear the requisite NCLEX exam to start working as a registered nurse.
- Master and Doctorate Programs
Anyone who has completed a bachelor’s degree in nursing is eligible to take up a master’s program and further it with a doctorate in nursing as part of higher studies in nursing education.
Nursing Career Paths
There are multiple routes to nursing education and one can choose as per their ability to study and fund their program. Once you have completed your education, the next step is to choose a career path out of a large variety of options available to nurses. Following are 4 job options for nurses that have seen a big increase in popularity recently:
Telehealth services have been existing for a while, but it took a global pandemic for a larger population to recognize their benefits. In 2020, in-person patient visits fell drastically to less than 50%, and telehealth consultation’s traction increased a lot; now topping the list for the most in-demand nursing careers in the future.
Importance of Telehealth
The advantages of telehealth are varied: Patients in remote areas can have easier access to care, as well as people with difficulty traveling or leaving their homes. Skipping a commute to an office saves time e.g. for people who cannot simply take time off work to get health care, and reduces a risk of infection for and from other patients. For some people, it may even be easier to open up to their healthcare provider through the anonymity of an online consultation.
Skills For Telehealth Nurses
Nurses can adapt to the increase in telehealth services by building skills required specifically for this field. Apart from the basic computer skills required to operate a Telehealth platform, a nurse needs to find new ways to remotely monitor a patient for their blood pressure, sugar, and other regular check-ups. It is common for nurses to note a lot from patients’ body language during in-person visits, which may not be possible virtually. To eliminate such gaps, telehealth nurses need to deep dive, ask more probing questions and get their patients to open up more.
Opportunities for Telehealth Nurses
Nurses proficient in using technology which is the crux of telehealth services have an abundance of job opportunities. With an average annual pay of $93,700, a telehealth nurse in most cases gets to work remotely which translates to a better work-life balance.
- Neonatal Nursing
Neonatal nurses work with newborns with medical issues ranging from birth defects, preterm birth, cardiac, pulmonary, and other medical or surgical needs. Neonatal care that ranges till one month from the birth of a baby is very important as most birth issues usually persist for the first six months of life.
Importance of Neonatal Nurses
Neonatal nurses take care of tiny yet important lives and have a lasting impact on the lives of not just a newborn but an entire family.
Skills for Neonatal Nursing
Any registered nurse with a BSN can start working in a neonatal wing of a healthcare facility as a staff nurse. They can choose to move up the hierarchy by becoming a nurse manager or assisting at the bedside as a clinical nurse specialist. After working in the neonatal wing of a hospital, one can clear a national certification test that validates a nurse’s skills and aids in getting more jobs.
Opportunities for Neonatal Nurses
As per the labor statistics reports, nurses with neonatal specialization can expect a bright future with a 45% projected increase in job growth and demand. As healthcare facilities grow more conscious about spreading the knowledge and efficacy of preventive patient care to lower the risky pregnancies that result in neonatal emergencies, these numbers are set to go up.
- Travel Nursing
Travel nursing is one of the most trending nursing careers as technology is advancing and people can bridge the gap of staying away from loved ones through video calls and face-times.
Importance of Travel Nursing
Healthcare facilities have to maintain a prescribed nurse-patient ratio and often this can be a huge task in absence of qualified nurses in a region. This gap is bridged by travel nurses who sustain increasing patient care.
Skills for Travel Nursing
Any registered nurse with a BSN who has cleared the NCLEX-RN licensure exam can become a travel nurse and start working with an independent staffing agency that will manage their contract.
Opportunities for Travel Nursing
During the pandemic, travel nurses witnessed a 200% hike in their annual pay and hospitals were trying to offer their best to attract the right talent. Though things have gone back to normal, travel nurses will always be in demand and the job comes with the extra benefit of higher pay than a normal registered nurse can expect.
- Palliative Nurse
Also known as hospice nurses, palliative nurses work in palliative care that is set to improve the quality of life for patients who are terminally ill and face life-threatening medical conditions.
Importance of Palliative Nurse
A palliative nurse eases the pain and provides the extra care that a terminally ill patient deserves and needs. They enhance the quality of life for patients and their family members.
Skills for Palliative Nursing
Apart from the regular requirements for a registered nurse, a palliative nurse has to be mentally willing to not just care for their patients but be prepared to lose them to death often.
Opportunities for Palliative Nursing
Owing to an aging population, awareness about hospice facilities, and a growing understanding of the importance of quality of life in its last phase, the demand for palliative nurses is increasing, and the pay structure is lucrative.
To Sum It Up
Nursing has a wide variety of scope and demand, and the flexibility that some of the fields are offering to future nurses is appealing. Aspiring nursing students should weigh their options early on to choose the right path for them out of the abundance of options. Still, with the healthcare field changing rapidly recently and probably going forward, nurses can rest assured they will always have new opportunities to further develop their careers and make changes.