Taking Steps Towards Nursing Career Advancement
The largest and fastest-growing healthcare occupation, nursing comprises a workforce of more than 2.74 million as of 2010. Projections released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in February 2012 showed that the number of employed nurses is expected to grow by 712,000 or 26 percent between 2010 and 2020 —faster than the national average for all other occupations in and out of the healthcare industry.
This projected growth, combined with the continuing nurse shortage throughout the U.S., makes for a promising job outlook for registered nurses. Industry experts predict that the supply-demand gap will compel the healthcare sector to take measures such as subsidized education and training and pay raises in attempts to attract and retain skilled nurses.
Nursing careers can take on a variety of forms and center around different settings, including hospitals, long-term care and assisted living facilities, clinics, and independent businesses. While hospital nurses comprise the bulk of the workforce, RNs can take on a number of different roles, such as public health nurses, school nurses, industrial nurses, and home health nurses. They may be trained to provide a broad array of healthcare services either in the form of direct care or in an administrative capacity.
Nursing career advancement is possible in any of the given settings, the common denominator being more rigorous clinical practice and educational requirements than those necessary for an entry-level RN position. High-paying positions continue to open for nurses with advanced degrees and/or specializations. Boston-based workforce trend analyst Burning Glass further reports that while upwardly mobile nursing careers are becoming increasingly difficult to break into, there is plenty of room to climb on the nursing career advancement ladder.
Some of the most sought-after advanced positions include nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse-midwives, and a variety of teaching and higher managerial roles.
Ongoing education and training is a basic requirement not only for nursing career advancement, but also for periodic licensing renewal. This underscores the need for flexible online degree programs which allow nursing professionals to pursue advancement opportunities without compromising their existing careers. The Saint Francis University online Master of Health Science program is an excellent option for nurses seeking ongoing education with a focus on public health and health administration. The program empowers nurses to fill the role of administrators, educators, clinicians, researchers, and other key leadership positions in healthcare.
In light of the projected long-term growth of the industry, continuing nursing education will prove to be a worthwhile investment for registered nurses across the U.S. Explore new career opportunities in nursing today.