Becoming a registered nurse (RN) usually requires a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) or an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN or ASN), but postgraduate nurse training can help take you even farther. There are plenty of career opportunities available for RNs and Licensed Practical Nurses, but a master’s (MSN) or doctoral degree (PhD or DNP) can allow you to practice in some very exciting areas of medicine.
With a postgraduate degree, you can become:
A nurse practitioner, so you can function as a primary care provider for your patients.
A nurse midwife, so you can provide care for women with low-risk pregnancies, and their newborn babies.
A certified registered nurse anesthetist, so you can safely provide anesthesia to patients during surgery.
A clinical nurse specialist, so you can improve patient care across an entire facility.
A nurse educator, so you can help schools graduate more nursing students.
These aren’t the only avenues open to nurses with advanced nursing degrees. For example, nurse practitioners can further specialize into areas like pediatrics, oncology, reproductive health, or critical care, nurse midwives can provide reproductive care to women from puberty to menopause, and nurse educators can also work as employee educators for healthcare facilities.
Postgraduate Nurse Training Programs and Licensing
Postgraduate degrees include master’s and doctoral degrees. Many states have different regulations regarding continuing education requirements for registered nurses, so it’s a good idea to see what your state’s Board of Nursing has to say on the subject. Some states may offer accelerated degree programs for nursing graduates that wish to become nurse educators, while others may offer specialized degrees for nurse practitioners that want to focus on one particular area of medicine. In general, postgraduate nursing students are registered nurses that have either obtained some clinical experience before enrolling in their advanced degree program, or who chose to further their education immediately after graduating with their bachelor’s or associate’s degree.
No matter which degree they obtain, all postgraduate nurses will still need to fulfill the examination and licensing requirements for their state before they can legally practice. This is true even if they move from one state to another after being licensed- unless they move between two states that abide by the Nurse Licesure Compact, they will have to reapply in their new state.
Postgraduate Programs and the Nursing Shortage
By the year 2020, it’s predicted that the world will be short in excess of 800,000 nurses. This is a mixed blessing for postgraduate nursing programs. The good news is that people with master’s or doctoral degrees in nursing are instrumental in helping hospitals and colleges reduce the nursing shortage, since they can go on to become nursing educators, continuing education providers, or nurses. The bad news is that large numbers of applicants to postgraduate nursing courses end up turned away, because there are simply not enough qualified educators available to teach all of them. So, if you choose to pursue postgraduate nurse training after becoming an RN, you may have a challenging time getting into a master’s or doctoral nursing program. On the other hand, if you do manage to make it into a postgraduate program, you will be able to take your pick from job offers once you graduate.
Why Postgraduate Nurse Training is Right for You
If you’re currently an RN and would like to specialize in one area of medicine, further your education, and improve your ability to help your patients, then postgraduate nursing programs may be ideal for you.
If you’re interested in nursing, but would like to follow a career path that takes you out of the usual hospitals and doctor’s offices, then a postgraduate nursing educator program may be the perfect choice for you.
Postgraduate nurse training can allow nurses to do more with their careers than a regular associate’s or bachelor’s degree can. It can give them an education that’s on par with a doctor’s, or turn them into a university’s best weapon against the nursing shortage. Though it may not be easy for you to get into a postgraduate nurse training program, the end result of your master’s or doctorate in nursing will be well worth it.