Nursing Career Options

nursing career options pros and cons

The world of nursing holds many career path options available within and outside  of patient care for both males and female nurses. The general divisions of careers for patient care are Acute Care, Long-term Care, Psychology, Clinic, Home Care and Research.  The general career paths that are outside of patient care involve Insurance, Non-profit, Grant Writing, Governmental,  and Community.

Male nursing career options and female nursing career options have almost no line of division based on the sex of the nurse. A nurse can do anything within the scope of his or her practice and state guidelines do not differentiate between the sex of a nurse.  There are however a few areas where preference to one sex verses the other sex is sometimes given.  OBGYN nursing is almost always a female nursing role and in  Emergency nursing victims of rape almost always require the need of a female nurse over a male nurse.  Patient sensitivity can also play a role in favoring one sex verse the other sex of nurses.

Patient care nursing requires several choices to be made early in a nurses career.  Obstacles exist in nursing that are difficult to overcome.  Work experience plays an important part in determining how many career doors and options are open to nurses.  Choosing wisely in the beginning of a nursing career can be a great benefit to the nurse throughout his or her career.  Nurses are not created equal but the creation of a nurse is based in part on experience and education.  An RN, for example is not qualified to work in all positions that require an RN.  It would be inappropriate to take an RN from a long-term care environment and place him or her in an ICU position without compensating for his or her lack of experience.  This is not to say that a long-term care RN could not learn to be an ICU nurse.  The same is true of placing an ICU RN in an long-term care position.  The worlds of ICU and long-term care are vastly different and each involve different types of policy, regulations and equipment.

The Gateways:

Within patient care there exist several unseen gateways that impede nurses from reaching certain career goals.  These gateways are not impassable and under some circumstances may not be encountered at all.  The hindrance to advancement is part education, part experience and the rest is left up to opportunity circumstance.


Medical surgical nursing is a pivotal gateway that can lead to every other single department of nursing.  Due to the very mechanism that connects a medical surgical department to the rest of an acute care hospital nurses with medical surgical experience gather bits of experience from all of the other departments.  These bits of experience when coupled with continuing education can become and key that opens doors for nurses.  If the goal is to become and ICU nurse but the opportunity is not available then medical surgical nursing is a way for the potential ICU nurse to advance.  Certification of skills such as Telemetry or Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) are educational tools that can help nurses realize their career options.  Being able to take advantage of opportunity is another way to advance the career options of nurses.  Within every hospital exist the opportunities to “help out” other units.  When those opportunities are available having the educational tools required to step up and say I can help will provide experience that may allow the nurse to advance.


The world of nursing is full of attitudes both positive and negative.  Mastering attitude not only makes the working environment more tolerable but provides the nurse with an exceptional resource.  Sadly, hospitals can be complex political machines.  Staying out of the politics is one of the best tools a nurse can do to promote his or her career.   When you are for something then someone is against you.  Choosing battles wisely and how you approach opportunities of change are two leadership skills that will open doors for nurses.

Non-Patient Care Roles:

These roles almost always require extensive nursing experience. The world of nursing and health care in general connects to almost every kind of industry one can imagine.  Choosing a career outside of patient care can be just as satisfying as being a patient care provider.  Experience is the key to these jobs.  Check with current industry employers to see what the experience requirements are.  They very greatly  from job to job.

Staying in neutral territory, advancing education and experience are the tools that nurses need to have to fully realize career options.