Don’t believe everything that you hear on the news – there has never been a better time to get into the health industry. While acknowledging the uncertainty brought on by the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, a recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers called 2017 “a year of opportunity” in health care – the paper cites exciting developments in technology and a continued shift towards nutrition as a preventative measure as evidence.
If you’re thinking about getting into the health industry but are unsure on where the road may lead, don’t worry. As the health-care sector has developed and diversified over the past few decades, so too have the number and range of routes into and through the industry.
Here are just a few of the potential entry points – and where they could end up taking you.
Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN)
The US is crying out for more nurses. On top of a decades-long shortage, the aging population now means that this problem is about to get much worse. If you have designs on working in the health industry, earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing will offer an entry point – and with it, opportunity for further advancement in the industry.
For example, while you may start out as a registered nurse, it’s possible to move up through the rungs to roles such as clinical nurse specialist or nurse practitioner through experience and further education. A BSN can help you land work as a:
- Nurse case manager.
- Intensive care unit registered nurse.
- Travel registered nurse.
- Operating room nurse.
- Staff nurse.
- Home care registered nurse.
- Per diem nurse.
- Post-anesthesia care unit registered nurse.
While it’s not a common route through medicine, many doctors also started out as nurses – for example, working as a registered nurse while studying at medical school.
Master of Science in Nursing Degree (MSN)
An MSN is often the next step in a nurse’s education after they have completed their BSN or Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN).
MSN degree programs usually take two years to complete and require a BSN degree as a prerequisite. While it’s not common, some MSN courses may allow entry if you hold a health-related bachelor’s degree – rarer still are MSN courses that offer places to holders of any bachelor’s degree.
MSN students usually first cover a general nursing curriculum, enabling students to become a registered nurse before moving on to further study. MSN candidates will then usually focus on a particular area of nursing, such as administration, clinical leadership, practitioner, or educator. Their studies will cover units such as nursing theory, clinical practice, research, management, and informatics, as well as physical and social science.
Holding an MSN opens the door to working as a:
- Clinical nurse specialist.
- Critical care registered nurse.
- Nurse practitioner.
Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP)
Earning a DNP is a great way to open the gate to a lifetime in the health-care industry. Don’t be thrown by the name – a DNP doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be working in a hands-on nursing role. For nurses who have completed their MSN, a DNP is ideal for those who want to lead. This is because a DNP degree (you can study this degree online at an institution such as Maryville) can lead to a variety of exciting career paths:
- General medical and surgical hospitals
Earning a doctorate in nursing will enable you to have a larger role in treatment plans when working in a general or surgical hospital. You’ll be able to undertake research to help understand, influence, or develop new health-care policies in your hospital.
- Public health
Your DNP means that you can potentially join the ranks of nurses educated to doctorate level who have become public health experts. A challenging and rewarding arena, working in public health gives you the potential to influence changes in policy and affect wide-reaching health issues.
Working in a research facility is just one of the many doors that a DNP qualification can open. Further study for a PhD in nursing would enable you to have direct involvement in conducting important health research.
- Independent practice
At some point, many DNP holders may consider “going it alone.” This is because it offers advanced practice nurses a rewarding challenge and a chance to make key decisions in their own practice. While it’s not for everyone, a DNP qualification, solid experience, and a keen business sense can be all that it takes to open your own independent practice.
- Physicians’ offices
Earning your DNP means that you can work in higher-paying management roles in a physician’s office – perfect for those who want to work in a smaller practice but don’t want to branch out on their own.
As you can see, there are a number of different career choices for someone working in health care. If you are interested in pursuing a career in this field, why not look further into gaining the required qualifications?