Being a nurse is a very rewarding role and can be exceptionally well paid and perfect for almost everyone. That is, of course, if you work beyond the standard role of an RN. RNs make up the biggest bulk of healthcare, and they are in big demand. With an estimated 800,000 RN roles unfilled currently and another million expected to open up by 2030, we need more dedicated RNs.
We also need more APRNs. If you have been an RN and want to improve, but think your time is past, you are wrong. Any time is the perfect time to advance your nursing career, and if you already have years of experience behind your belt, then you are the ideal candidate to reach the highest levels of nursing.It can be a bit tricky getting back up on the career ladder after enjoying a single position for so long, but it is almost easy in nursing. The direction is clear-cut and what you need to do simple. Finding that right balance for you can be tricky, but with this guide, you’ll be able to set a new direction for your life and arrive there successfully:
Top Specializations in Nursing to Work Towards
It’s easy to get stuck in routines and habits. We know what to expect and are generally content with where we are. Change can be scary, especially when it means going back to school again to further your qualifications. As a nurse, however, you already have to learn. You learn every day on the job. You go back to be recertified, to be updated on the latest tools, and generally just to keep up with the quality of care that patients expect of you.
Nurses never stop learning, but now it is time to put that learning to good use. There are so many positions above an RN that you can strive for, both with an MSN and DNP degree. They will allow you to help others, not to mention open you up to six-figure salaries and even a better work/life balance.
If you are over 50, now is the perfect time to look into progressing your career. You are perfectly positioned to be a leader and make a real difference. It doesn’t matter if you are an RN or APRN, there is always somewhere to advance, and with these top six choices, you are spoiled for choice:
1. Midwife Nurse
Nurse-midwives consistently rank highly on job pay and satisfaction. You can become a certified midwife in as little as two years, and the median wage rests at $100,590 per year. You will help people during the happiest and best period of their lives, either handle the entire pre-natal to post-natal care yourself or work with an OBG-YN to help expecting mothers safeguard their health and help them bring their newborn into the world.
2. Critical Care Nurse
If you thrive on the challenge and exist for the thrill, then the best place for you is as a Critical Care Nurse. As an APRN Critical Nurse, you won’t be sitting on the sidelines until someone tells you what to do. You will be taking charge of the trauma floor and help people with injuries and even save lives. The experience you earn here would also make you ideal for working later on as the Head Nurse or in a position where you have a greater say over your hospital’s care programs.
Anesthetist Nurses are the highest paid in the entire industry, and as a result, are hugely in-demand. In this role, you will work alongside surgeons and administer anesthesia for a variety of procedures. An Anesthetist Nurse’s median wage is $165,120, a very attractive wage that appeals to many who are looking to advance their role in nursing.
4. Family Nurse
If there is any role where you will take on many of the same roles as a doctor, then it is as a Family Nurse Practitioner. DNP degree holding FNPs work in clinics, perform diagnostics, order tests, and even write prescriptions. They will have their own patients and can work almost anywhere, with a great work/life balance and a healthy salary to back them up.
5. Nurse Educator
The level beyond APRN is a DNP nurse. Those with a DNP degree are at the highest of their field and are perfectly positioned to become nurse educators. Though the pay is substantially less than other roles, with nurse educators earning only $73,710 as a median wage, a professor’s work/life balance is notoriously wonderful, with summer, winter, and spring breaks throughout the year.
6. Nurse Director or Chief Nursing Officer
At the top of the career ladder is the Nurse Director. You will need to be an MSN holding APRN at minimum, though to improv3 your chances of being the head of nursing in your hospital, you will want to go even further. A DNP degree in leadership will help you build all the tools you need to be a better leader, both for the nurses under your charge and for the level of care they provide.
In such a DNP degree, you will learn about nurse leadership, ethics in the complex health care system, technology and data management, finance and economics, and so much more. Nurse Directors are as many nurses at the top of their field as they are business managers. A great DNP degree can help you tackle all the hardships the Nurse Director faces and give you the tools necessary to improve the quality of life and care for the nurses and patients under your charge.
Degrees and Certifications That Will Get You There
You should ideally already have your BSN at this stage, and if you don’t always ask how your experience, certifications, and associate degree can help fast-track you through your BSN first. There are ways to cut down and make a huge leap forward in your career, even after 50.
With an MSN, you can work your way into any of the four major nursing types: Nurse Practitioner, Critical Care, Midwifery, or Anesthetist. Each of these types can then be customized even further, particularly the Nurse Practitioner. NPs work in hospitals, in clinics, with the elderly, infants, and beyond. They make up the largest number of APRNs and are perfectly suited to progress their DNP role later on.
A DNP degree is perfect for those with one of two main goals. The first is to be a nurse educator. Though universities will hire those without a DNP degree, it will be in a less substantial role than if you had your doctorate. The DNP degree is also ideal for those who want to get involved with leadership. All Directors and Chief Nursing Officers should consider a DNP degree. It comes advanced healthcare with a business mindset and makes you perfectly suited to manage any healthcare facility better.
Thinking Beyond the Role: Finding Your Ultimate Workplace
At this stage in your career, it isn’t just the role you want to work towards but also the workplace. Nurses are needed in so many more locations than hospitals, giving you the freedom to find the perfect work/life balance, and even a great final home to call your own.
One of the most popular options is in clinics. Clinics cater to more close-knit communities, meaning you won’t just have patients, you’ll have regulars. You can take care of families, see them grow, and be a consistent care source for those in your community. Unless it’s an emergency clinic, you also can enjoy more regular hours.
You can teach or work as a nurse in your own nurse’s office in any educational facility. Both are great options that come with an enviable work/life balance and a lot of prestige. However, to become an educator, you will need more than that MSN degree; you will need a DNP degree and experience.
3. Research Facility
Nurses are needed in pharmaceuticals and in the research sector for their expertise and care. That’s just brushing the surface of your role in a more office-related setting as well. You could also work as a nurse recruiter or work to research your own.
4. Care Home
Providing palliative care for those who live in nursing homes or hospices is the strongest and most dedicated. It is also not something a nurse at the golden era of her career often chooses. Still, if you have the opportunity to take over as the director of care, you can improve the residents and nursing staff’s quality of life.
The NLC states make it easy to travel move without retaking the certification exam, but that isn’t the only way you can travel as a high-level nurse. There are organizations like Doctors Without Borders for those who want to help the most at-need, all the way to nursing positions on cruise ships.
You can start your own practice and have complete control over the quality of care and your staff. Private practices are perfect for those who want to advance their career but want to be in full control of how you do it. You will want to utilize your specialization and even consider a DNP degree to ensure you are ready to handle your new practice’s care and business side.
How to Get Back into the Hustle
Every year where you work without looking to advance to the next nursing level is far from wasted. You are building clinical and critical experience both in healthcare and in leadership with every day that passes. If anything, it should make it easier to learn, as you can immediately put new information together with what you already know and come out of it with a greater understanding of your profession.
The only thing that will be difficult, however, is your new routines. Working all day, then afterward, spending time reading, listening to lectures, and working on projects for your degree is a task that is not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of dedication, and these tips and tricks, to get the job done:
Eating well isn’t enough. The body goes through significant changes as you age, meaning you need to eat different food percentages to enjoy lasting energy and good health. If you don’t personally have experience building such a diet, just ask around and get in touch with your colleagues. Someone will specialize in exactly what you need, and if there is no one in your hospital, look online for personalized diet recommendations.
Sleep is imperative. It is important for our health and even our longevity. Adults need an average of 9 hours to be at their best, and even. When you reach over the age of 65, you still need between 7 to 8 hours, not less. Aim to get a deep night’s sleep by sticking to a strict routine, using aromatherapy, and avoiding blue-white light a few hours before you need to sleep.
Another part of our routines that will need to change is our fitness and exercise routines. As we age, our bone density drops, and working out properly can help minimize this loss and keep our bones strong.
By stretching more and focussing on resistance training and interval training instead of cardio, you can improve your strength and overall resilience. This, in turn, will imbue you with more energy and allow you to easily tackle the challenges of work and study as you get older.
Be Kind to Yourself
It can feel frustrating, trying to jump back in on the career ladder after reaching a certain age. You may have the incorrect notion that you have failed or that it is too late. It is never too late. You cannot be too young or too old to improve yourself and your career, and with nursing, it is easy. Know what you want, improve your health, and use your support. It doesn’t matter how fast you get to your goal, just that you are making progress.