There has never been a better time to take your nursing career to the next level. Experienced mid-career and senior nurses have many options for advancing their careers and rewarding their hard work with better compensation and benefits.
If you are thinking about advancing your career and have yet to research your options, this article will help you start forming a great plan for getting your career where you want it to be.
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Positions to consider for career progression
Clinical trials help bring new treatments and medications to the public. A clinical research nurse monitors and helps treat patients enrolled in clinical trials. Strict attention to detail and procedure is a major job requirement for any nurse employed in a clinical setting. As a clinical nurse, you will play a critical role in making sure studies are accurate and relevant.
Professor or educator
Experienced nurses may find that teaching others is appealing to them, especially late in their careers. Teaching at a university level, either in person or online, is possible. There may also be opportunities for teaching at the medical facility a nurse already works at.
While working as a surgical nurse requires extra training, it is worth considering if you are looking to advance your career or make a major change from general nurse duties. As a surgical nurse, you will be in charge of sterilizing rooms and surgical equipment, making sure necessary instruments are available, assisting with many different procedures, providing care and support before and after a procedure, and cleaning up afterward.
At home care
Visiting patients at home and providing care and checkups may be an exciting change of pace for a mid-career or senior nurse who is comfortable in many different settings. As an at-home care nurse, you may be assigned a single patient throughout the week or many patients. Of course, this may require quite a bit of travel and driving, depending on how many patients you are assigned, so you need to be comfortable with that.
Elder care and nursing home positions
There is a huge demand for nurses at assisted living and elder care facilities. This nursing sector is set for much growth with a large aging population. As an elder care nurse, you may be asked to do various duties, including assisting residents with daily tasks, ensuring patients are following their suggested medical routine, assessing health problems, and referring patients to specialists as needed.
Private practice physicians nurse
Private practices can be a nice change from working in a super busy hospital setting. In most cases, private practice offices are on an appointment-only basis, with a few practices having some time set aside for walk-ins or more urgent appointments for established patients. This means you can look at upcoming appointments and prepare well in advance. If you are looking for a position where you just work a daytime schedule, then private practice is an excellent choice.
Traveling nurse positions can be exciting and offer excellent compensation.
Hospitals use traveling nurse services to help fill the demand. Many mid-career and senior nurses find that a traveling position is enjoyable. The period of assignment in a particular area may vary considerably. This is a great way to spend time living in other areas and exploring the country while advancing your career. If you like to meet people from all walks of life and are at a point where frequently moving around is appealing, then traveling healthcare positions are something you should consider.
Working as a neonatal intensive care nurse is rewarding.
As a neonatal nurse, you will administer care and support to ill and premature infants as well as those born with congenital disabilities. While this is a position that requires a lot of mental fortitude, it is rewarding to know that you are helping save the lives of babies that otherwise might have very low or no odds of survival. Becoming a neonatal nurse requires gaining experience in a neonatal unit. These positions can be competitive, but as a mid-career or senior-level nurse, you will have an advantage if posts become available. Gaining a CCRN accreditation is another way to increase your potential for a higher salary and promotion within a neonatal unit. This certification is inexpensive to get but requires logging in a lot of hours in a neonatal unit or as a nurse working in a pediatric setting.
Intensive or critical care nurse
A critical care nurse must be good at making fast decisions and have the best observational skills. As an intensive care nurse, you will be administering support and care to some of the sickest and most injured patients, so you can see why a nurse with experience would be highly sought after for this position. Of course, this is not a position for a nurse looking for a less intense job after years of work but a high-demand position.
Labor and delivery nurse
A labor and delivery nurse position is a highly sought-after job, but with a high level of nursing experience, you will be ahead of other applicants. Many nurses find labor and delivery a very joyous place to work. As a labor and delivery nurse, you help assist with deliveries and provide monitoring of mothers and infants. You may also oversee labor inductions. Many positions ask for at least 3-5 years of prior nursing experience to apply.
Tips for career progression for mid-career and senior nurses
The value of networking cannot be stressed enough. While networking with those at the medical practice you work at is invaluable, so is attending conferences, online groups, and sites like LinkedIn. Networking helps you see opportunities for advancement and puts you front and center when people are looking for someone with your skills.
Earn a Doctor of Nursing or another advanced degree
Continuing your education is an excellent way to advance your career and maximize your earning potential. A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree from Walsh University gives you the credentials you need for various senior positions, from administrative to on the floor of a hospital or other medical facility. In addition, you can complete the DNP program online in as little as three years.
Take classes and gain certifications.
A certification takes less time than a degree, but it can help you advance your career and command a higher salary. Will it do as much for your career as an advanced degree? No, but it is important to note that you can gain certifications while working on an advanced degree and advance your career even more.
Consider specializing in a specific area of nursing.
Some specialized nursing positions are in very high demand. Choosing a specialty, such as cardiac medicine, may be lucrative. When you specialize and gain a higher level of skill in one area, you may be in a better position to be considered for advanced positions when they become available, or you may qualify to work at a more advanced medical facility.
Show extra initiative no matter what your current position might be.
Employers and supervisors notice nurses that put in a lot of extra effort to perform well and offer the best possible care for their patients. If you have the opportunity at work to take on tasks that go above and beyond, then do so whenever you can. If you see another nurse or doctor having a hard time and have the time to help, then do so.
Consider looking for a better position at another facility.
There is a very high demand for nurses of all experience levels. If you are a mid-career or senior-level nurse, you may be shocked at the many available job opportunities. In addition, if you are willing to relocate or travel, your total compensation may include a substantial sign-on bonus after you fulfill a specified time of employment. This is common in areas that have the hardest time filling nursing vacancies.
The Bottom Line
Mid-career and senior nurses have a lot of career options. If you are a nurse and want to try something different, then there is no time like today’s job market. It may be hard to decide what progression route you should pursue. Carefully weighing the aspects you like most about your job and what you find interesting against the less satisfying areas is a good way to narrow down the career path you want to pursue. For example, if you are tired of working odd shifts and want a daytime position, you might consider a position as a general practice or family practitioner nurse.