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Nursing: What Can I Do With This Degree?

Staff Nursing

Hospital specialties include:
  • Pediatrics
  • Surgical
  • Emergency
  • Critical care
  • Maternity
  • Women's health
  • Newborn intensive care
  • Cancer treatment
  • Psychiatric/Mental health
  • Operating room/Recovery room
  • Various others
Occupational or industrial health

Employers

  • Hospitals
  • Clinics and medical centers
  • Physicians' offices and medical groups
  • Outpatient surgery centers
  • Home health agencies
  • Extended care facilities: nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, hospices
  • Psychiatric hospitals and mental health agencies
  • Educational institutions
  • Large corporations

Information & Strategies

  • Gain experience through externship or internship programs.
  • Work or volunteer in healthcare and medical settings during summers and breaks.
  • Take electives in areas such as wellness, holistic health, medical ethics, and death and dying.
  • Develop good organizational skills and the ability to handle stress.
  • Develop patience, ability to work with both patients and families for long periods, and good listening skills.
  • Be prepared to work nights, weekends, and holidays in a hospital setting.
  • Obtain a master's degree for positions such as nurse practitioner, clinical specialist, or nurse administrator.
  • Cultivate managerial skills for head nurse or other supervisory positions.

Community and Public Health

  • Home health
  • Rural nursing
  • Health education

Employers

  • Public and private schools
  • Daycare centers
  • Mental health facilities
  • State and local health departments
  • Home healthcare agencies
  • Senior centers
  • Nurse-run clinics
  • Religious organizations
  • Social service agencies

Information & Strategies

  • Develop knowledge and skills in management, decision-making, mediation, teaching, counseling, speaking, and writing.
  • Gain experience in the ability to handle emergencies, work independently, and be flexible.
  • Develop expertise in first aid procedures.
  • Expand knowledge of health issues related to age, cultures, religions, ethics, and government policies.
  • Obtain a master's degree for nurse practitioner positions.

Independent Practice

  • Temporary staffing
  • Travel nursing
  • Personal services contracting
  • Private duty
  • Midwifery

Employers

  • Healthcare staffing agencies
  • Travel companies
  • Businesses and organizations with temporary needs
  • Private households

Information & Strategies

  • Gain the required years of experience.
  • Learn to work autonomously and make decisions independently.
  • Be prepared to move frequently to various locations either locally or abroad.
  • Become flexible and adaptable.

Government Service

  • Staff nursing
  • Administration
  • Policy development
  • Research

Employers

  • Government agencies including Public Health Service, Indian Health Service, Veterans Administration, Peace Corps, VISTA
  • Armed Services
  • Prisons

Information & Strategies

  • Define an area of interest since government work offers a variety of practices.
  • Plan on graduate study in teaching, research, or administration for advancement.
  • Become familiar with other cultures, languages, health systems, and beliefs.
  • Be prepared for combat nursing in armed services.

Education

  • Teaching
  • Educational administration

Employers

  • Teaching hospitals
  • Colleges and universities
  • Schools of nursing
  • Wellness centers
  • Public school systems
  • Community education programs

Information & Strategies

  • Develop patience, sensitivity to the needs of young adults as well as patients, and the ability to accept responsibility for the actions of others.
  • Take courses in the principles and practices of teaching.
  • Earn an advanced degree to teach at the college or university level.
  • Gain experience in public speaking.

Nursing Research

Employers

  • Large hospitals and medical centers
  • Colleges and universities
  • Centers for nursing research
  • National Institute for Nursing
  • Pharmaceutical companies

Information & Strategies

  • Gain experience with research through supervised independent study or class projects.
  • Develop curiosity, analytical thinking, attention to detail, persistence, good writing skills, and an understanding of statistics.
  • Obtain a PhD.

Telehealth

Employers

  • Call centers
  • Private offices
  • Clinics
  • HMO's
  • Hospitals

Information & Strategies

  • Work in other practices for five to ten years to gain the necessary experience.
  • Develop good communication skills and the ability to make important decisions quickly.

International Health

    Employers

    • Embassies
    • Military bases
    • National or international government agencies
    • Private voluntary organizations
    • Church-related mission services
    • World Health Organization

    Information & Strategies

    • Consider advanced education as a clinical nurse specialist or nurse practitioner to be more marketable.
    • Learn a foreign language and an appreciation for other cultures.
    • Inquire about the need for additional preparation in religious studies or similar courses.
    • Research nursing requirements in other countries.

    Other Areas

    • Insurance: underwriting and claims
    • Sales
    • Product management
    • Quality assurance
    • Writing
    • Law
    • Healthcare administration
    • Information management
    • Patient advocacy
    • Forensic nursing

    Employers

    • Insurance companies
    • Hospitals
    • HMO's
    • Business and industry, including pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and supplies, medical marketing companies
    • Law firms
    • Medical and health publications
    • Healthcare websites
    • Healthcare advertising agencies
    • Public relations firms
    • Professional associations

    Information & Strategies

    • Combine interest nursing and healthcare with another field by earning appropriate graduate degrees or gaining relevant experience.
    • Minor in business or communications as an undergraduate.
    • Develop strong computer skills and an understanding of business practices.

    General Information

    • Nursing is the largest healthcare field. Three out of five nurses work in hospitals. Many nurses work part-time.
    • Nursing combines science and technology with the desire to help people. One must enjoy helping people of all types and backgrounds.
    • Nursing requires both physical stamina and emotional stability. Nurses must be able to follow orders and direct others.
    • Earn a master's degree to prepare for advanced practice nursing including: clinical nurse specialist, nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, nurse anesthetist, and administration. Earn a doctoral degree for research or teaching at a university.
    • All states regulate nursing by requiring licensure.
    Download a PDF of this chart for easy printing.

    Next Steps

    Learn about North Park's nursing program.

    Nursing Student