Earning your RN to BSN online can open up career opportunities not available to those who hold only an associate nursing degree. Managerial and critical nursing positions seek candidates who are highly educated and experienced. Preference if typically given to nurses who have earned a bachelor’s or more advanced degree.
If you’re interested in taking your nursing degree up a level, but aren’t sure what to do once you’ve graduated, consider some of the careers on our list. While some of these careers may be attainable with an associate degree in nurses, priority in these specialized positions will go to BSN candidates.
1. Hospice and Palliative Care Nurse
A career as a hospice and palliative care nurse is one of the most rewarding and most difficult in the medical industry. Hospice and palliative care nurses treat terminally ill patients who are at the end of their lives. The hospice and palliative care nurse’s work focuses on pain management and maintaining quality of life. They spend a deal of time helping patients and their families cope with death by providing emotional support, knowledge and understanding.
2. Obstetrics and Gynecology Nurse
Called OB/GYN for short, obstetrics and gynecology deals exclusively with female-bodied patients. These nurses work with women from puberty to menopause. They assist during pregnancy and childbirth, as well as help with issues involving a female’s reproductive system. A large part of the job involves teaching girls and women and about physical and sexual health and providing advice on treatments including contraceptive options, mammograms, conception guidance, advice on vaccinations and annual pelvic exams.
3. Pediatric Nurse
Nurse in pediatrics work with infants, toddlers, children and young adults. These nurses administer childhood vaccines, help children and parents understand changing adolescent bodies, give developmental screenings and treat common childhood illnesses like chicken pox, appendicitis and tonsillitis. Pediatric nurses often focus on preventative care and work with family doctors and pediatricians to conduct routine check-ups and prevent illness through proper nutrition and activity.
4. Intensive Care Nurse
Also called critical care nurses, these healthcare professionals work with patients who have severe illnesses or injuries. Due to the nature of the work, intensive care nurses are often some of the most capable in the hospital, nursing home or facility for which they work. They must possess in-depth knowledge of anatomy and modern medical technology. These nurses often further specialize to work with babies, children or adults. The critical care and intensive care units of hospitals are fast-paced, and life or death situations arise there every day. Intensive care nurse candidates must hold a BSN or MSN.
5. Perioperative Nurse
Perioperative nurses are more commonly called surgical or operating room nurses. They care for patients before surgery, offering advice and emotional support and administering medicines that help prepare the body for operation. They may also assist surgeons during procedures or may serve as liaisons between doctors and families during a surgery. Surgical nurses provide care during recovery, as well, monitoring patient vitals and teaching patients and families about at-home post-operative care. Perioperative nurses must be diligent in staving off infection for themselves and patients. Only BSN graduates can work can perioperative nurses.
6. Informatics Nurse
Informatics nurses keep all the cogs moving smoothly. The coordinate and interpret medical data that comes through a doctor’s office, hospital, clinic or other medical facility. Considered a management position, informatics nurses must hold a minimum of a BSN. Informatics nurses must be skilled in computer science, information technology and nursing science. Without informatics nurses, serious delays in communication and administrative processes could have a serious impact on patient health and doctors’ ability to do their job.
7. Occupational Health Nurse
Occupational health nurses work to make sure other healthcare professionals stay well. They work closely with employers to make sure that national standards for health and safety are met and are instrumental in maintaining employee health and well-being. Occupational health nurses develop health and safety programs for hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient clinics, doctors’ offices and other facilities. Their job description also includes documenting employee injuries and illnesses and appraising work environments for safety. This position is considered a management position, and as such, requires a BSN.
8. Oncology Nurse
Oncology nurses work with patients who have or are at-risk of developing cancer. They monitor conditions and symptoms and administer medicines, chemotherapy and other treatments. Like palliative care, oncology is incredibly challenging, but can be one of the most rewarding paths in nursing. Oncology nurses are generally required to hold a BSN or higher degree.
While some of these careers may be attainable with an associate degree in nursing, priority in these specialized positions will go to BSN candidates.