By spotlighting both the nurses who care for patients with bladder and urology conditions and awareness around the physical and emotional aspects of bladder health, patients and nurses can gain and share information.
Urology nurses treat patients who can have conditions as varied as kidney failure, bladder cancer, incontinence, vasectomies, and kidney stones. Urology nurses treat adults and children and can specialize in one area. Nurses in this specialty are also able to find a career path that matches their working style–whether that is a steady schedule in a physician’s office, a varied home care schedule, a trauma unit, or a surgical center.
By using information to spread awareness and promoting the importance of bladder health, the Urology Care Foundation highlights Bladder Health Awareness Month. Nurses and patients will find resources to help with different health concerns. The organization is highlighting different conditions each week of November including interstitial cystitis, neurogenic bladder, and bladder infection/urinary tract infection; bladder cancer; incontinence, overactive bladder, and stress urinary incontinence; and bedwetting, nocturia, bladder exstrophy and other bladder conditions and diseases.
Access to information that’s accurate and up to date is essential for many reasons including ensuring patients are receiving the best treatment and care possible. But this access also helps patients normalize urology-associated problems and conditions. Frequently, patients are reluctant to talk about issues like incontinence. The more they can understand that bladder health issues can be managed with treatment from medication and lifestyle modifications, they will have a better quality of life.
Nurses in this specialty have several resources to increase their knowledge, gain connections, share information, and strengthen their leadership practice. The Society of Urologic Nurses and Associates (SUNA) is the professional organization for urology nurses and established Urology Nurses and Associates Week. SUNA holds an annual conference and works tirelessly on advocacy for urology nurses. Their efforts help ensure that urology patients get the best care possible and that nurses achieve excellence in their profession.
Nurses who work in pediatrics can find resources and a network through the Pediatric Urology Nurses and Specialists. In addition to an annual conference, this organization offers resources for nurses through webinars, pediatric-focused resources, and even special interest groups in biofeedback, research, education, and urodynamics.
After working in the field and establishing a solid foundation as a nurse and a desire to achieve expert status, nurses can work on one of three certifications through the Certification Board for Urologic Nurses and Associates. Depending on their specialty and career path, nurses may choose from three certification options: CURN® – Certified Urologic Registered Nurse, CUNP® – Certified Urologic Nurse Practitioner, or CUA – Certified Urologic Associate.
Nurses and patients can work together for the best possible urology-related outcomes.
When nurses think about all the career options available to them, medical-surgical nursing (known most often as med-surg) is one they hear about frequently–and there’s a good reason behind it. For nurses who want to spend a career constantly learning about different health conditions and issues and who enjoy the variations that come with working with patient populations that differ throughout the week, or even the day, medical-surgical nursing is an ideal career path that helps nurses specialize in this distinctly broad category of nursing
This week celebrates Medical-Surgical Nurses Week, which launches on November 1 annually. According to the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN) this week is an excellent time for nurses in med-surg to advocate for themselves and for their patients. Nurses can use the platform of Medical-Surgical Nurses Week to help answer questions about this area of nursing and encourage new nurses to consider this area of the nursing profession for a long-term, rewarding career.
Almost all nurses work in med-surg during their careers as it offers the kind of hands-on, direct interactions with patients that nurses depend on for building their skill set. But med-surg nursing is much more than a launching pad to a different specialty. Patients who are cared for by med-surg nurses depend on their deep experience to know the subtle differences in patients that can signal a potential issue. Because med-surg nurses see so many different conditions across a spectrum of patient ages, they have a fine-tuned intuition reinforced with critical thinking.
AMSN is a driver of change for med-surg nurses and makes advocacy a priority. At any given time, AMSN is monitoring and promoting varied legislation, proposed policies, and agendas that could have an impact on med-surg nurses and the patients they care for. If you’re a med-surg nurse, the organization is one that will help you find connections that will advance your knowledge and your career.
Because med-surg nurses have so many varied opportunities to work with patients, a professional network in which they can talk with other nurses who do what they do is essential. Being able to bounce around ideas about career growth with a more experienced med-surg nurse or being able to hear what med-surg nurses in other facilities and offices are doing in their day-to-day practice can be eye opening and inspiring.
A career as a medical-surgical nurse offers opportunities to work in different settings and locations including hospitals, offices, and even through telehealth platforms. Because of this variety, med-surg nurses can find roles that work for their own lifestyles and capabilities. Because of these choices, the opportunities for career growth in the specialty are broad. According to AMSN, “medical-surgical nursing is the single largest nursing specialty in the United States and beyond.”
Orthopaedic nurses know that when problems with joints and muscles strike, they can impact the quality of life in a significant way. Nurses in this specialty are there to diagnose and treat patients who have conditions ranging from an injury needing a short-term recovery to longer, chronic conditions including osteoporosis.
This week, orthopaedic nurses around the world are celebrating a week devoted to highlighting their nursing specialty with Orthopaedic Nurses Week. From October 30 to November 2, nurses can use this extra attention to promote this career path and to help educate the larger public about what orthopaedic nurses do.
As nurses in this career know, the duties of an “ortho” nurse are varied. From where they practice–in physician’s offices, hospitals, surgical care or outpatient centers–to the conditions they treat–from joint-replacement preparation and recovery to surgery to repair broken bones–ortho nurses have many career pathways to choose from.
Ortho nurses work with patients across the lifespan and whether they are working more closely with pediatric patients or elite athletes, they find the focus is similar. Joint and muscle issues can cause patients to experience pain and discomfort, can interrupt their activities of daily living, and can require new ways to adapt to performing tasks. Ortho nurses are particularly adept at helping their patients recover as they can share best practices to help move recovery forward or tips on managing what could be symptoms of chronic disease.
Orthopaedic nurses must be experts in the skeletal and muscular system, so they know how a problem with one joint could have a widespread impact on other areas of the body. Nurses who are especially fascinated with these areas will find a natural fit for orthopaedic nursing and will find gaining experience will help them build on the foundation they received as nursing students. Professional ortho nurses will find excellent resources through the National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses.
The Orthopaedic Nurses Certification Board offers three separate credentials for nurses who want to attain more expertise in their specialty. With the ONC®, OCNS-C®, and ONP-C®, nurses will achieve the most up-to-date knowledge and practice in musculoskeletal health. Certification in any specialty is a professional credential that signals to the public and to peers that a nurse is dedicated to gaining the top skills and knowledge related to a specific area of nursing. Ortho nurses work in a fast-paced environment and so continuing to stay current on the latest developments and guidelines around conditions, equipment, and practices will only help them provide the best patient care possible.
If ortho nursing interests you, spending some time shadowing or working on an ortho unit will offer an understanding of the day-to-day challenges and joys of this line of work.
Choosing the right career path in nursing can be daunting, especially when the healthcare industry offers many specialties, roles, and opportunities. Getting stuck in what we’ll call option paralysis is a real possibility, and it takes focused energy and clarity to avoid pitfalls along the way.
You don’t know what to choose when you have so many choices. The danger lies in choosing to do nothing instead, perhaps staying stuck in a job or specialty where you’d rather not be. This is when you need a plan, a focus, and the determination to move forward no matter what.
Understanding Option Paralysis
Option paralysis, sometimes known as choice overload, occurs when you’re presented with too many choices. In nursing, this can happen when you’re bombarded with potential career paths, from bedside nursing and clinical education to healthcare management, research, and entrepreneurship.
While options are good overall, you risk ending up in stress and indecision. And if you’re hoping for job satisfaction, work-life balance, and positive career growth, then proactively pushing back against option paralysis and taking action is called for.
How to Overcome Option Paralysis
As a nurse, you may be aware of some of the career path options that may be open to you, but you also know there are a whole lot more of which you’re completely ignorant — in essence, you don’t know what you don’t know. Where do you begin? Here are some ideas for overcoming option paralysis and making decisions from a place of increased clarity.
Step 1: Define Your Career Goal
The first step in finding a new nursing career direction is clearly defining your career goals. What do you want to achieve in your career? What types of colleagues and patients do you love to work with? Are there patient populations that you know you can’t deal with? Is there a type of role that you’ve always dreamed of, or do the options feel positively overwhelming?
You’ve always had a goal of working in a completely non-clinical role. However, when you think about what might be out there in terms of non-clinical avenues for nurses, you feel like you’re walking on quicksand.
Step 2: Research Your Goal
Once you’ve identified that you’d like to understand more about working in a non-clinical role, it’s time to gather information. Remember, the first step of the nursing process is assessment, so you need data to identify your next steps.
When finding out what non-clinical roles for nurses are truly out there, you can use search engines, social media, nursing journals, podcasts, and articles to find out more.
Keep a running list of roles that you discover, including those that hold no attraction for you whatsoever — these will come in handy. As the list grows and you learn more about these different career paths, you might still feel you have no idea what’s right for you.
One of the ways you can reverse engineer this part of the process is by definitively crossing off what you wouldn’t even consider doing. After all, if you can’t say what you’d like to do, you can at least identify the things that are an absolute iron-clad no.
Research the requirements, qualifications, and expectations associated with viable career paths. You’ll explore educational requirements, certifications, and what experience you need to break into that area of nursing.
If you can identify specific individuals who work in positions that sound interesting, you can summon the courage to reach out to them and ask if they’d be willing to exchange emails or chat on the phone or a video call. You may be surprised how many people are eager to discuss their work.
Step 3: Identify Milestones
Breaking down your career goals into smaller milestones is essential. These milestones are checkpoints on your journey, making the process more manageable. And since many nurses lack awareness of what preparing for a non-clinical role might entail, your due diligence is to know the steps and milestones.
Step 4: Create a Timeline
A timeline is a crucial tool for managing your career progression. Determine when you aim to achieve each milestone and create a realistic timeline. Be flexible but committed to your schedule, as life may throw unexpected challenges. Having a timeline keeps you accountable and focused on your long-term goals.
Step 5: Continuous Learning and Adaptation
The 21st-century healthcare industry is in a state of constant evolution. A mindset of continuous learning will be invaluable to stay competitive and relevant in your chosen career path. Attend conferences, workshops, and webinars/seminars related to your field. You may also find podcasts, articles, videos, and social media feeds that help you stay current.
Step 7: Evaluate and Adjust
Regularly evaluate your progress and be willing to adjust your plan, just as you would during the nursing process if your initial assessment, diagnosis, and plan failed to yield the results you were looking for. And if your interests or life circumstances change, realize that change is inevitable. You must continue to ensure that your career aligns with your values, passions, and aspirations, even as you evolve as a professional and a human being.
Option paralysis is a real challenge when deciding about your nursing career. However, you can take control of your professional trajectory by adopting a thoughtful approach.
With clearly defined goals, solid research and networking, and an open and flexible mind, you can confidently move forward in your ability to navigate the road ahead. Remember, your nursing career can be a winding path, and it’s within your power to find the avenue to your most significant personal and professional fulfillment.
If you want to earn an advanced practice degree—such as a Nurse Practitioner (NP) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), among others—you will need to get a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. But there are many other reasons to have one as well.
Last year, Laura Browne, MSN, RN, CNL, a second-career nurse, graduated from Georgetown University with her MSN-CNL. This means she went through a master’s-entry to nursing program with a specialty in becoming a clinical nurse leader.
Browne works as a preop and recovery nurse in the Austin, Texas, area and provides content for an informational dental care website called Smile Prep.
“In general, MSN programs offer nurses the opportunity to grow their careers in various ways, whether applicants are new to the nursing field or established nurses looking for a change of pace,” says Browne. “A major benefit of master’s-level nursing education in specialties outside of the NP role, beyond coursework at an advanced level and deep exposure to evidence-based practice (EBP) projects, is the flexibility it affords you in your career. As a nurse with a master’s degree, you meet the education requirement to be a clinical preceptor for nursing students at many universities. This is a great opportunity if you are interested in nursing education.”
Sometimes, nurses know exactly what they want to do when entering nursing school. Such is the case with Nick Angelis, CRNA, MSN, owner of Ascend Health Center and author of How to Succeed in Anesthesia School. “I started nursing school with the goal of becoming a nurse anesthetist, which requires at least an MSN,” he says. The MSN degree is “a springboard to better opportunities. In some cases, it allows nurses to continue in the place where they currently work but receive better compensation. This is most worth it if an employer provides tuition reimbursement. Specializing as an NP or CRNA allows for better compensation and better work/life balance. Most outpatient clinics are open 9–5 and closed on weekends and holidays.”
Kate Rowe, MSN, CNM, DNP, a certified nurse midwife, says, “For those nurses who wish to work more in nursing education, nursing/healthcare research, academia or advanced practice, an MSN is for you. MSNs can specialize in several different fields depending on your field of interest. Women’s health, psychiatric care, adult/gerontology, midwifery, public and community health, and emergency medicine are just some potential avenues for providers to take.”
Angelis says that before earning his MSN, he worked the night shift, doubles, and traveled from hospital to hospital. “Now I take the time I need with each patient and make my schedule. I can immediately see the effects of my anesthesia as I take patient’s pain away and safely guide them through complex surgeries. I can also collaborate with therapists, physicians, and everyone else on the care team,” he says.
As for how long earning an MSN will take, that depends on whether you’re working part-time, full-time, or not. Rowe says that they typically take two years to earn, but there are accelerated programs that can take as little as five quarters.
While working full-time, Angelis says he took his core MSN classes. When he began taking anesthesia clinicals, he would take occasional nursing shifts. “Most MSN specialties allow students to work through school. Anesthesia school is unique in the massive amount of time and effort required for several years, including up to 40 hours a week in hospitals providing anesthesia. Accelerated online programs are available for some MSN specialties and can be completed within 18 months,” he explains.
The amount of work to earn an MSN is worth it, says Rowe. She adds, “The greatest rewards of earning an MSN involve the ability to give back to your community and positively impact the lives of your patients through all the hard work in graduate school and then again when you are in practice.”
Read the October issue of Minority Nurse focusing on the MSN and Magnet Hospitals here.
Nurses have an embarrassment of riches to choose from when planning their nursing education journey and professional career in healthcare. From entry-level Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) to a terminal degree like a PhD or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), there are a myriad of pathways in the nursing profession.
For many nurses, a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree is an achievable goal worth the effort in terms of the return on investment it can offer. But how can you measure the potential value of earning your MSN?
Why the MSN?
With nursing becoming increasingly complex in this new millennium, nurses are expected to have a broader scope of knowledge, more skill and expertise, and the ability to be dynamic leaders within a multidisciplinary industry, whether that leadership comes from an official title or simply through a nurse’s words and deeds.
An MSN is an advanced degree that can open many doors for an ambitious nurse seeking increased knowledge and expertise. Often, but not always, more nursing education brings a relative increase in career opportunities and earning power, and the MSN is no exception.
Having a master’s degree creates a certain level of credibility in the eyes of patients, nursing, and non-nursing colleagues, and the value of professional credibility cannot be overstated.
Damion K. Jenkins, MSN, RN, is a nurse educator, nurse career coach, mentor, and author. He states, “My MSN in nursing education provided me with essential insight, knowledge, and skills that have been imperative throughout my career as a nurse educator.”
In terms of any further return on investment for earning his MSN, Jenkins adds, “My education has offered me many opportunities to position myself into nursing leadership positions where I can make tremendous positive impact in all areas of nursing practice. From bedside nursing to academic nursing to clinical administration, I have fully leveraged everything my MSN education and training offered. I’m not so sure I’d be as successful as I am today without the privilege to receive this extremely valuable education.”
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) also says it well:
“Beyond the professional opportunities nurses gain through graduate education, there are some tangible benefits to one’s quality of life. Nurses with advanced preparation typically enjoy more opportunities to impact the overall design and implementation of care. As education increases, salaries follow suit. Nurses with master’s degrees can command six-figure salaries and often rise to the top of healthcare’s leadership ranks. With new practice opportunities emerging and the demand for highly specialized nursing skills rising, the time is right for you to begin your graduate-level nursing education. The earlier in your career you complete your formal education, the longer your professional life and the higher your lifetime earnings will be.”
The AACN is a cheerleader of the drive toward a growing body of master’s-prepared nursing professionals. They continue:
“The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) encourages all nurses to strive for higher levels of education to advance their capacity to enhance the quality of care available to our nation’s diverse patient populations. Calls for more nurses with graduate-level preparation are coming from inside and outside the profession from authorities as diverse as the Institute of Medicine, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Now is the time to invest in your future and begin your journey into graduate nursing education.”
There is no question of the potential value of the MSN. But what about the value of the MSN for you?
The MSN: What’s in it for You?
What can an MSN mean for you? There’s a lot to chew on since the number of choices is growing. Let’s examine a few.
The rising importance of nurse practitioners (NPs), also known as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), cannot be denied. That said, there are multiple roads a nurse can choose as an APRN, including:
Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP)
Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP)
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP-AC)
Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP-PC)
Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP)
Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP)
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)
For a non-APRN MSN, there is another dizzying array of choices, including, but not limited to:
MSN, Public Health Nursing
MSN, Nursing Education
MSN, Health Informatics, or Nursing Informatics
MSN, Health Care Quality & Patient Safety
MSN, Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems
MBA & MSN, Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems
MSN, Care Coordination
MSN, Nursing Leadership and Administration
Informatics, leadership, systems, safety, and quality are areas where many nurses are making a difference, and an MSN is a pathway to these types of positions.
Show Me the Money
In terms of earning power and job growth, we can attest from the data that a master’s degree in nursing can increase the amount of money a nurse can make, especially for APRNs.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the breakdown shows us the reality:
Registered nurses earn a median annual salary of $77,600, a mean hourly wage of $37.31, and have projected job growth of 6% (as fast as average) through 2031.
For other MSN roles, Indeed reports that a nurse manager earns an average of $78,474 per year, and a research nurse earns an average of $79,610. From these numbers, we can see that the earning power of an APRN far outstrips that of the nurse manager or nurse researcher, who earns the same annual salary as a registered nurse despite a higher level of education and potentially a much higher level of debt in student loans. (We are, of course, assuming that the researcher and manager have an MSN.)
Numbers are approximate for some regions of the country and every facet of healthcare and related industries, and there are always opportunities outside of the norm.
We can say with much clarity that, when considering pursuing an MSN, you’ll want to do your homework in terms of what your earning potential will be, what opportunities exist for that nursing specialty, and how satisfied you might be in the particular role that your chosen MSN program will prepare you for.
Networking, speaking with school representatives, working with a career coach or counselor, and doing your due diligence and research are all prudent uses of your time and energy before you sign on the dotted line and enter an MSN program.