Being a nurse is one of the toughest, and often most underappreciated, jobs that there is. Not only do you work many hours, typically on your feet, but you also must possess a vast amount of knowledge and experience relating to your specific field of medicine.
Despite owning such expertise, nurses tend to be overlooked in the workplace setting as those who play second fiddle to doctors. While it is true that a nurse’s role will generally see him or her working as supporting medical staff for a physician, their abilities and acumen are not to be underestimated.
Be that as it may, the value of nurses in our society is something that cannot be overstated. They work selflessly to aid the patients in their care and take measures to ensure that they are continually growing and developing as healthcare professionals. The education that a nurse must obtain is no slight matter, either. If you are currently working as a nurse, then you know this more than anyone. Furthermore, becoming an expert in a specific field of nursing and advancing to a higher level in the medical world hierarchy requires even further education.
Nurses who wish to advance their careers and expand their knowledge base through earning a doctorate degree have many options available to them. In fact, here are four tracks that those who are looking to pursue a doctorate in nursing can take.
1. Executive Leadership
Earning your Doctor of Nursing Practice, or DNP as it is often referred to is an excellent step to take if you wish to pursue the track to becoming a leader in the field of nursing. As with most DNP programs, you will only be able to go for such a degree if you are already a registered nurse.
This specific degree track provides nurses with the knowledge and skills that they need to develop the qualities and characteristics that constitute a good leader. Such skills include, but are not limited to, effective communication, organization, and decision-making capabilities. Those nurses who wish to rise in the ranks to such a level where they can help contribute to positive changes in healthcare should opt for this track.
There is a growing recognition in the world of healthcare that the opinions and experience of nurses who have spent years working on the frontlines are more valuable than they were once thought to be. The firsthand insight that nurses can give to those making the big decisions in the medical field today can go a long way to promoting better practices and patient outcomes across the board.
With such growing recognition comes more opportunities for nurses to get involved and assume more leadership roles within the medical community. If you wish to be one of those nurses and have your voice heard on such a scale, a DNP geared towards becoming an executive leader is going to be an excellent choice to consider.
2. Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
The world of pediatric medicine is a complex and emotional one at the best of times. The role that nurses play in this field is critical and is a role that shouldn’t be underestimated. Unfortunately, as in other areas of medicine, it is also becoming an alarmingly underserved one. There is a growing need for educated and experienced pediatric nurses across the country, a need that is only predicted to continue to rise. If you have a calling for pediatric medicine, why not dedicate yourself to pursuing this track to help fill this void?
Through a DNP in pediatric nursing, you will learn how to provide care that is centered on the family. While the settings for such care can be tough to handle at times, with many emergency and chronic situations alike needing to be seen to, the fulfillment that one gains from pursuing such a career is almost unmatchable. This degree offers elements of leadership and team building as well as educating nurses on acute pediatric care.
Women’s healthcare is another field of medicine that always seems to be underserved. With so many female-specific conditions out there that are misunderstood, there is an ever-growing need for qualified nurses to be able to fill roles relating to women’s health. Midwifery is one such area of women’s health that requires qualified and experienced nurse practitioners.
Midwifery is an area of medicine that is growing in popularity in the United States because of the positive outcomes that midwives can help facilitate for pregnant mothers. A DNP in nurse-midwifery will provide you with the skills that you need to take on this very critical role in women’s healthcare. The versatility and preparedness that is necessary for all good nurse-midwives to have can only be obtained through the right combination of education and clinical experience. Furthermore, such a degree will equip you with leadership skills as well so that you can better contribute to the advancement of this vital area of medicine.
4. Neonatal Nursing
The field of neonatal nursing is where medical care is focused on children under the age of two. A DNP in neonatal nursing is designed to specifically give nurses the education they need to serve high-risk patients and their families. Such nurses must be able to not only provide care to some of the most fragile humans out there, but they must also be able to communicate compassionately and effectively with their families. An often emotional role, neonatal nursing requires the right balance of knowledge, empathy, and effective communication.
Often working in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), neonatal nurses typically deal with patients who are high-risk or born prematurely. A DNP in this field gives nurses the clinical experience required to understand how to better serve such patients and their families during what is generally an emotional time. In this sense, the neonatal nurse practitioner must serve as an educator of sorts in that they must be able to guide parents and families on how to best care for newborns and infants in challenging situations.