When you are a nurse, there are many different routes and directions you can take to enhance your career and achieve your goals. One of the ways this can be done is to study online and gain a DNP (a Doctorate of Nursing Practice) which essentially enables you to become a nurse leader, and be in control of an entire area of a hospital or clinic. It is a difficult degree to work towards, but don't let that put you off doing it; many things in life are difficult but they are still worth doing. Plus there are many other types of degrees and qualifications that nurses can take in order to build their careers. 

If you are serious about making changes in your life and moving forward with your career, a DNP or other degree could be the ideal solution. Not only will it make you more confident in your abilities, but it will open up a new world of career choices, and you will be able to apply for jobs in many different hospitals across the country should you wish to - perhaps even across the world. If you want to get ahead in nursing, a degree has to be a good way to start. 

Yet finding the time to study when you are already working hard as a nurse isn't always easy, and this can be a reason why some people choose not to. Luckily, there are online courses which mean that it is possible to move forward even when you thought you couldn't. The question is, should you? Here are some answers to that all-important question to help you make the change and build your nursing career:

Is Nursing The Right Choice? 

To begin with, it's important to say that nursing is not a career that appeals to everyone, and even if you do think it might suit you, it may be that you don't enjoy it; it involves a lot of hard work and it is emotionally draining as well as physically demanding. That said, it is an immensely rewarding career, and many of those who choose to study and work as a nurse will do so for their entire careers. 

If you are a caring person who wants to help others, nursing might be ideal for you. It's true that you will have to have certain qualifications in place (at least a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, if not more) in order to work in this career, but studying is certainly worth every minute if it gives you the kind of job that you enjoy and that you want to go to each day. 

There is nothing wrong in discovering that, even after you have studied, you want to change careers. A nursing degree can still help you - you will learn so much more than how to be a nurse and take care of patients, and no matter which direction you want to go in (whether you want to do something completely different or you want to move forward in your nursing career) these extra skills will certainly be an advantage. They will include: 

  • Time management

  • Stress control

  • Leadership

  • Teamwork

  • Research 

  • Debating 

  • Listening

  • Organization

All of these skills, known as 'soft' or 'transferable' skills will give you a great advantage in your nursing career, or anything else you would like to do. 

Why Take On Additional Studying?

As a nurse, you are extremely busy. It's hard work, physically and mentally, and you work long shifts. If you choose to take on overtime, or if you have family commitments to think about, the idea of adding studying and examinations to your workload might seem crazy, and even impossible. 

Yet when you look at the reasons behind the degree and what you would get out of it, it might start to appeal more. One great reason for taking an online DNP or similar course is that you will be able to earn a good deal more money. If this is important to you and your family, if it will make life easier, if you see it as a reward for your hard work, then it could be the impetus you need to study. Nursing is not a career many people will go into simply for the money aspect - in most cases this isn't even a consideration. The reason they want to be nurses is to help people and work in an interesting environment. Extra money, however, is always going to be useful, and if you can build your career and achieve that, you can be much more happy and secure. 

Another reason for additional studying, even if it does leave little time for other things, is that you will be able to pick and choose where you work. For those without extra nursing qualifications, there will be many people looking for the same jobs, and although hospitals are always going to be in need of nurses in general, the hospital you want to work in might not be hiring when you are searching for work. If you have a DNP or another nursing degree that shows you have qualifications, knowledge, experience, and dedication to your career, you should find it much easier to choose exactly where you want to work. There will be fewer people applying for the same jobs since fewer nurses have these degrees and that makes finding work much easier. 

How To Choose The Right College 

If you feel that studying for a degree in nursing is a good idea, there are a number of different colleges you can attend. Yet some will be better for you than others, and the choice may seem vast and overwhelming. The key is to take your time when choosing which college to study at; although the degree might be the same, the way it is taught won't necessarily be. Plus, you need to think about the cost and location too. There are lots of considerations to take into account when choosing the best college. 

One of the most important elements of choosing the right college is whether or not you can study online. If you have to attend physical classes, you might find it much harder to fit in around your work, especially since these classes will be held at specific times due to the number of people attending. It might be that you are able to get special dispensation to attend these classes, but even if you can do so, would you want to? They would interrupt your work and you might be tired which means concentrating would be difficult. You could miss out on a lot. 

Working online, however, means that you can study when you are able to, and when you feel up to learning. This might mean it takes longer to gain your degree, but if it also means you are able to be more confident, learn better, and not have to miss any work, then there is definitely an advantage in working in this way. 

You must also check out the admissions procedure. It might be that the degree you want to work towards requires you to have obtained other qualifications first. If this is the case then it is, of course, of huge importance that you understand this and look at how you need to plan out your study and your career. A DNP, for example, is a big step, therefore you will need to have gained other qualifications before you can achieve it. Making sure you know what a college needs you to have done before applying will help to reduce disappointment and will also ensure you are working in the right way. 

Network Where You Can

Networking isn't just for those in business; it is something that everyone in every field can take advantage of, and nurses are no different. This may not be obvious to many people, even those who are studying to be nurses or who are looking at going back to school for additional qualifications. However, if you want to get ahead in your career and really build your nursing abilities, networking could be exactly the right direction to go in. 

Networking isn't as hard as it sounds. In the case of nursing, it's a question of looking out for opportunities that might help you to advance your career. The more people you know who understand what you want to do and what your goals are, the more these opportunities will come to you - they will think of you when a job becomes available,  for example, or when they receive information about a new course opening up. This kind of information could be exactly what you need to hear, and it would be a shame to miss out. This is why it pays to be as open and honest as possible when networking and making new acquaintances. 

Look At Your Strengths and Weaknesses 

When you know it is time to make a change and build your nursing career, making it more rewarding and interesting, you should always look at your own strengths and weaknesses. Whether you are already studying or you think this is a good idea and want to know more about it, understanding where you excel, and where you can benefit from additional help, is always going to be useful. You will, if you are objective and honest with yourself, be able to determine exactly what needs more work in terms of your career, and that will help you choose what to do next and how to build your nursing career even further. 

By working hard on the areas you are not as strong in, you will be able to have a much more well-rounded set of skills which is going to appeal to employers and give you an edge over others who might be applying for the same jobs. 

Alternatively, by looking at what you are good at and what you enjoy the most, you might see a different path to the one you had initially envisaged. Perhaps there is a specific area of nursing that appeals more than others, and your strengths mean that this is the area that you will be most successful in. If this is the case, it is always worth checking out other options and seeing what the qualifications and experience needed might be. The beauty of a career in nursing is that there are always different options and places to work, so you can ensure you are as happy as possible throughout your career by always doing what you want to do. 

Make Sure You Have A Goal

There is no hard and fast rule that says you have to have a goal. There is nothing that means you have to be working towards something. In fact, if you are perfectly happy where you are doing what you are doing and intend to do that for your entire career, that's wonderful (and it is a goal of its own). However, some people want more; they want to build their nursing careers and this will mean setting goals in place to achieve and surpass in order to build the career they ultimately want. 

There are many ways to determine what your goal should be. You might be extremely ambitious and you could, therefore, be heading towards a management job. You might want to work in a specialist department which will mean looking at ways to gain extra qualifications. Whatever it is, make sure you understand what reaching your goal is going to entail. 

In order to start working towards any goal, you need to understand what it is you are aiming for. How big is the goal and how long will it take to achieve? It could be that it makes more sense to break your ultimate dream down into smaller, more achievable goals, and therefore the idea becomes much less overwhelming and more exciting - as you reach each goal you can put the next one in place and start working towards that and so on. This means there will always be something you are aiming for, and you will literally be building your dream nursing career, step by step, dream by dream, and goal by goal.