What Can You Do With a Nursing Degree?

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Four students of Barton College's nursing program stand shoulder to shoulder with their arms crossed smiling at the camera

As you read this article, you’ll learn about the many careers available to those with a nursing degree:

Like many areas of the country, North Carolina has a nursing shortage. The staffing problem isn’t just in hospitals — nurses play vital roles in many sectors, including education and research. So, what does that mean for you? It means there are a wide variety of nursing positions.

Traditional Nursing Careers

Of course, there are a few immediate answers people think of when asked about registered nurses. Registered nurses are integral members of the health care team. Nurses assess patients, administer prescribed medications and treatments, and collaborate with other members of the health care team. Nurses are at the bedside and have the most impact for patients in a variety of settings such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, health departments, schools, and many other community settings.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurses

A BSN graduate can become an APRN. APRNs are nurse practitioners (NP), certified nurse midwives (CNM), certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNA), and clinical nurse specialists. Graduates of these programs have a master’s degree (MSN) or a doctorate of nursing practice degree (DNP).

Nurse Practitioner

A nurse practitioner fulfills the role of a primary health care provider. Individuals in this role often see patients throughout their lives and may even care for multiple family members. Nurse practitioners make an average of $96,790 a year and work in hospitals, health departments, clinics, or in private practice.

Nurse practitioners also work with specialists to address patients’ healthcare needs. The following are typical responsibilities:

  • Teach patients and family illness or injury management
  • Evaluate patients’ treatment and medication responses
  • Manage chronic illnesses such as diabetes and congestive heart failure

Clinical Nurse Specialist

Clinical nurse specialists usually hold leadership roles and therefore have managerial responsibilities in addition to providing direct patient care. Individuals in this role are APRNs trained in a nursing specialty such as:

  • Trauma
  • Public health
  • Oncology
  • Obstetrics
  • Hospice
  • Geriatric
  • Psychiatric mental health
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiac care
  • Forensic
  • Burn Care

The average CNS salary in NC is $105,914/year.

Certified Nurse Midwife

Certified Nurse Midwives provide care to women during pregnancy, labor and delivery, as well as postpartum, contraceptive counseling and other gynecological health care needs. They are employed in hospitals, birthing centers, health departments, and private practices. The average salary for CNM in NC is $109,369/year.

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists provide anesthesia to patients in every practice setting. The average salary for a CRNA in NC is $183,976/year.

Other Nursing Opportunities

Not all registered nurse positions require you to stay at one location or even interact directly with patients. There are positions that require a nursing education but are typically in outpatient settings.

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse

Health care isn’t limited to the physical — millions of people also require psychiatric care to live full lives. Psychiatric Mental Health nurses specialize in this type of care and may care for patients with any of the following:

  • Psychotic disorders
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Mood disorders
  • Personality disorders

Travel Nurse

If you don’t want to stay in North Carolina, you can become a travel nurse. As registered nurses, travel nurses assess patients, administer medications, and monitor vital signs but don’t work in a specific location. Instead, they’re either private contractors or employed with an agency. They then travel to clinics and hospitals that need more staff.

During the COVID-19 epidemic, traveling nurses make 200,000-300,000 a year. This higher pay reflects the pressures of traveling, months away from home, and working in high-stress environments with staffing shortages.

Substance Abuse Nurse

Addiction is a serious medical condition that requires specialized care. Addiction treatment nurses have behavioral psychology and pain management education to assist patients living with physical and mental symptoms. Because addiction also impacts patients’ family members, nurses often work with loved ones:

  • Explaining the rehabilitation process
  • Outlining treatment plans
  • Teaching methods of support for patients

Substance Abuse nurses can work in various settings, including hospitals, public health centers, rehabilitation centers, and prisons.

School Nurse

Many schools employ a nurse to care for students. Daily responsibilities generally include the following:

  • Educate students on health and hygiene
  • Manage students with chronic health problems such as diabetes, asthma, and sickle cell disease
  • Address student health concerns

Nurse Administrators

If you’re interested in the types of nursing positions that utilize managerial skills, you may excel as a nurse administrator. Nurse administrators can be managers of units, Chief Nursing Officers, Vice-Presidents of Nursing as well as Chief Executive Officers. This role typically doesn’t involve direct patient care.

Preparing for Your Nursing Career

At Barton College, you can obtain the skills necessary for a wide range of registered nurse positions. We’re dedicated to helping students flourish academically and in their careers. To learn more about our nursing program or start your application, contact us online or give us a call at 800-345-4973.

Image Source: Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock

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