Nursing Career Paths

Many people believe that once you choose a career path in nursing that you’ll be stuck with it forever. But the reality is that nurses change the direction of their careers all the time. For instance, someone may start out working in neonatal because they’ve always wanted to work around infants, but quickly find that the emotional stress is just too much for them and transfer to another area such as geriatrics or home health nursing. Or another nurse may have worked in a hospital all of her life, but once her kids move out of the house, decide that she wants to become a traveling nurse and see the country.

There are many reasons that nurses change directions in the middle of their careers, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do everything in your power to choose the path that you believe is right for you. Some specialties covered on the following pages include:

When you’re first planning your career, you should ask yourself some questions that should help you to decide which path is likely the best for you. Here are a few things to consider:

  • What population do you most want to work with? The very young or old? Homebound, those in hospitals or people being seen as outpatients?
  • How quickly do you want to enter the field? The answer to this question will help you decide whether to pursue a certification or one of the degree options.
  • What type of facility do you want to work in? A hospital, nursing home, or perhaps a school setting?
  • How flexible do you want your schedule to be? Do you want to work regular shifts, or would you rather travel to various locations in thirteen week increments like a traveling nurse does?
  • Are there any areas that specifically interest you, such as anesthesiology or oncology, or does the idea of general nursing sound more like the career you want?
  • What type of salary are you looking to earn? Again, your answer should influence your decision about the degree of education that you pursue.

Many people begin with a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) certificate which only takes a few months to get, and begin working in the medical field almost immediately. By doing this, the nurse will be able to learn about the field, and will know which areas she’d like to work in and which ones to avoid. Then, once that nurse decides which field she wants to pursue, she can then continue her education while still working and earning an income. Many CNAs go on to get their BNA degrees, and even pursue a specialty career after that, such as a surgical nurse or holistic health nurse.

The nursing field is one of the only areas where you can quite literally shape your career. There are so many different opportunities and training options that anyone should be able to design a dream career and then begin the process of making it come true. It’s one of the fields that professionals with drive can truly say, “The Sky’s The Limit.”


Learn More: Choosing Your Nursing Specialty