The BSN and Career Mobility

When we’re in secondary school, nursing is presented as an area of unlimited opportunity. There are so many different types of nursing roles that you can take on — there’s something in the field for every caring, dedicated person.

Sometimes later, though, nursing begins to feel like one thing: twelve hour rounds on the same hospital ward. Education is one of the pieces that can bring opportunity back in. Whether you want to have a broader impact on the community, are seeking new intellectual challenges, or need to transition into a role that is less physically grueling, degrees and certifications can be your ticket. What types of jobs are available to nurses at the baccalaureate level? You may also want to read “The RN to BSN and Career Advancement” and/or About LPN to BSN Programs.

Public Health Nurse

Public health nurses have an important role in preventative care. A number of states now require baccalaureate education. Even in states where a bachelor’s degree is not a mandate, it can be hard to get a position without one.

A public health nurse may wear a number of hats. They may work in disease prevention. They may screen children or pregnant women for health conditions and disabilities. Another common role is providing information about parenting issues, nutrition, or community resources.

Why does a nurse in a public health setting need a higher level of education than a hospital staff nurse? They work more independently — They are not necessarily part of a big on-site team. Often clients are people who live in poverty, and many have limited English proficiency. Public health nurses need skills in locating resources and coordinating care.

Care Coordinator or Navigator

A navigator performs many roles as they help patients navigate the treacherous landscape of cancer or organ failure. They may coordinate services, act as a contact person, and run support groups for patients and families alike. They need a high level of knowledge about disease processes as well as the ability to act as an educator and coordinator. They also are a source of emotional support. (A bedside nurse offers compassionate care during treatment, but a navigator may have a more focused support role.)

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Case Manager

RN case managers may assist a variety of clients: elderly patients who require in-home care, hospital patients with complex care needs, and people with disabilities. They may work with families as well as individuals.

Pediatrics or School Nursing

A bachelor’s degree can be useful for an RN who wants to work with children. Although the BSN is not required for pediatrics, it is often preferred. Magnet children’s hospitals employ a high proportion of baccalaureate level nurses.

Policies for school nursing vary by state. Some states do mandate a bachelor’s degree; certification may be required as well. School nursing can be a great position for someone who has children themselves and wants regular hours that follow the school day.

Health Educator

Nurses may become patient care educators, teaching people to manage everything from diabetes to wounds. They may work directly with patients and/ or design programs for other nurses to carry out. Clinical knowledge and compassion are a must, but so are advanced communication skills. A knowledge of evidence-based practice is also useful.

Quality Coordinator

Some nurses choose to work with data. They may analyze quality measures and make sure that the project or facility is in compliance with applicable regulations.

Nurse Manager or Director

Many baccalaureate level nurses choose to remain in traditional hospital settings but move into leadership roles. Possible positions include unit manager, charge nurse, or service director. Part of the promotion process is having experience in particular roles and settings. However, an increasing number of leadership roles do require the BSN. Hospitals with magnet designation are required to keep at least 75% of their nurse manager positions staffed with baccalaureate or graduate candidates.

Additional Information:

Nursing Career Advancement

Nursing Career Paths

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