What to Do After Earning Your RN DegreeTuesday, October 27, 2015
The first step to becoming a Registered Nurse (RN) is earning your RN degree. Once that's out of the way, you can choose from a variety of paths as you embark on your new career. Like many aspiring RNs, you may be confused about how to proceed once the rigors of nursing school are behind you.
In many ways, the choices you'll have will depend on the type of degree you earn. An associate degree will make you eligible to take the NCLEX-RN exam to earn your license, for instance, but you'll qualify for fewer positions and have less flexibility when it comes to immediately advancing your education. By figuring out these points early, you can lay the groundwork for a successful nursing career.
Pass the NCLEX-RN exam
Regardless of your long-term career goals or the type of degree you earn, passing the NCLEX-RN should be your top priority. You should do so right away even if you don't plan to look for jobs immediately - for example, you may want to move ahead to earn a more advanced degree. Even if you don't need it right away, earning your license will be a huge weight off your chest and will instill you with the confidence you need to push ahead in your career.
Earn Your Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree
Like many people, you may have decided to earn your associate degree in nursing first in order to obtain your RN license as quickly as possible. This also allows you to start looking for jobs right away. Even so, why stop there? Many working RNs use a combination of night school and online courses to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees, or BSN degrees. With a BSN under your belt, you'll be able to pursue positions in specialized fields and will be eligible for better positions and better pay.
Earn Your Master of Science in Nursing Degree
If you have earned your BSN, consider immediately earning your Master of Science in Nursing, or MSN, degree. You're already used to the nursing school grind, so this is an opportune time to earn an advanced degree. Two additional years of schooling will open up many exciting opportunities for you and make you qualified to pursue advanced specializations. If you aspire to work in administration, nursing education, or other advanced practice nursing roles, this is the path for you.
Apply for Jobs
Of course, you may need to start earning a paycheck right away. After completing your degree, earn your RN license and start applying for jobs. Doing this now doesn't mean you will never be able to pursue more advanced career and educational attainments later. The fact is that many RNs immediately seek employment before pursuing different career and educational paths.
By getting to work right away, you can start paying off student loans and other debt sooner. Also, you will gain real-life work experience that will help you decide the long-term trajectory of your career. As you gain experience as a working RN, you will learn about where your natural talents and interests lie. This will make it easier to choose an area of specialization later. Also, gaining work experience right after earning your degree and passing the NCLEX-RN lets you learn the ropes in terms of equipment, instruments, and simply completing everyday nursing duties.
Regardless of the type of RN degree you've earned, keep the momentum going by deciding your next move now. Think of it as another step on your way to achieving the nursing career of your dreams.