How to Plan a Thriving Career in Healthcare: a Guide for Men

Nursing has historically been a role reserved for women, but that not only is changing, but it also needs to change. There are massive nursing shortages and a high demand for advanced practice registered nurses throughout the country. With the ability to earn high salaries, save lives, care for patients, and do it all through a more accessible education track than the MD track, the popularity of nursing is at an all-time high.

Nursing puts the patient first in care. It is ideal for those that believe in a patient-first approach that puts care over medicine. Nurses work in harmony with their doctors, and with the sheer number of APRN specializations available today, you can specialize and progress your career in exciting new ways.

Currently, there are only between 9 to 10% of men in nursing, and this needs to change. Nurses can earn six-figure salaries and be essential members of any team in healthcare. In some states, they can even work independently and operate their own clinics. The roles are changing, and the opportunities are expanding.

There are a few big reasons to choose nursing over becoming a doctor. Again, nursing puts the patient care first before medicine. They see the patient and, as a result, actually play a critical role in recovery.

A study has shown that having more BSN-RN nurses on staff works to reduce the mortality rate. This is because trained health professionals who are there throughout the recovery process are key to monitoring and guiding the patient through their healing process without complications.

The other big reason to consider nursing over going to medical school to become a doctor is accessibility and cost. There are many routes to becoming a nurse, and many nursing education options today allow you to work while you study, allowing you to get the professional experience you need to progress while also working to support yourself or your family.

Routes into Registered Nursing

To become a registered nurse, you need to eipther earn an associate’s degree in nursing or the bachelor of science in nursing.

Associate’s Degree in Nursing

The first degree that became available and necessary for nurses to earn was the Associate’s Degree in Nursing or the ADN. This degree usually takes around two years to complete and will qualify you to become a Registered Nurse (RN). While many states still accept those with an ADN, there has been a massive push for more BSN-qualified nurses. Some states even have a BSN-in-10 program to encourage all ADN-holding RNs to earn their BSN degree.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

There are two reasons why you will want to go for the BSN over the ADN. The first is that BSN-prepared RNs statically reduce mortality rates and improve care outcomes. The second is that you will need to have a BSN if you ever want to progress your career further. You will need to earn the BSN in one way or another before you will be able to take on an MSN. There are a few MSN options that allow you to apply with an ADN, but these will cover the missing BSN courses and credits before moving on to the MSN portion of the degree.

Mix of the Two

If working as soon as possible is important, you can earn the ADN first, get a job as an RN, and then find a BSN program that allows you to fast-track through it by transferring your credits from your ADN to your BSN. It is a smart way to get into nursing faster, though you do need to stay motivated to continue. Earning your BSN won’t give you any new opportunities, though you may be able to negotiate a higher salary at your next job. What having your BSN will do, however, is qualify you to earn an MSN and then become an APRN.

Earning Your MSN and Making Your Career Your Own

While you can work in a variety of settings as an RN, the work you do, your responsibilities, pay, and opportunities will inevitably be capped. If you want greater control over your options and the ability to craft a career that is entirely your own, you will want to take your career further and earn an APRN. Most APRN roles earn over $100,000, with a certain roles and experience, even fetching over $200,000 in the highest-paid states/hospitals.

The Four Types of APRNs

There are four main types of APRNs, and more nurses, both men and women are needed.

Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners, commonly known as NPs, are hands-on APRNs that work directly with patients in a variety of settings. You may work for a certain demographic, for example, women, children, or the elderly. You may alternatively work in a certain area of healthcare.

Clinical Nurse Specialist

Clinical Nurse Specialists work on improving care standards. They work often in a certain area of healthcare, like oncology, and provide more supportive roles that don’t deal directly with patients.

Nurse Anesthetist

The Nurse Anesthetist is notorious for being the highest-paid nursing position. In some states, you can earn upwards of, and in some cases even over, $200,000 per year. These Certified Nurse Anesthetists (CNAs) provide anesthesia in hospitals, clinics, and even in dentist offices.

Certified Nurse Midwife

The Certified Nurse Midwife is a role that is both as old as time and regaining in popularity. Unlike the old days of midwifery, where everything was learned in the home as a way to support the community, certified nurse-midwives are highly trained health professionals. Statistically, midwives provide a better level of care for pregnant patients and their fetuses.

How Roles Change by State

Some roles vary state by state. The Family Nurse Practitioner, for example, has various levels of responsibilities and privileges depending on the state. In California, FNPs are restricted, meaning that they must work under a physician and be supervised. In other states, like Washington DC, FNPs have the ability to work fully autonomously. This means that they can diagnose, test, write prescriptions, and even start their own clinics.

When it comes to planning out your career, you will want to understand what the roles you are interested in entail in your state.

If you earn your license within the eNLC, or the enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact, then you will have a multi-state license and the ability to move for greater career options. If you don’t live in a participating eNLC state currently, then you will want to be fully aware of what APRN roles there are and what they look like in your state so that you can plan accordingly.

How to Master the Work/Life/Study Balance

Nursing is notoriously difficult, but that doesn’t have to be your reality. With so many roles and so much need for nurses at all levels, you can find the perfect working environment for you. There are also many great tips to help with your work/life balance as a nurse.

1. Slow and Steady Progress

When it comes to managing a career as demanding as nursing, a degree, and then your personal life and responsibilities, something has to give. That is why it is important to start with the minimum number of courses and credits. This will take longer before you can graduate, but if working while you study is important for you, then there is no other option. Burnout will happen if you consistently push yourself too far.

2. Fortify Your Health

Even when you take the minimum program commitments, you may find that your stress levels and energy levels both reach dangerous levels. It is very important that you maintain a healthy lifestyle and prioritize energy-boosting habits.

3. Cut Corners Where You Can

There are many ways that you can cut corners and save time. While some options will require you to dip into your budget, others are entirely free. It depends on what budget you have to work with and what your options are. Some may find that meal plans are affordable ways to take a lot of the stress out of healthy eating. For others, using a laundry or cleaning service can help keep your home clean without overloading your very busy schedule with daily chores.

Focus on what you personally need and find ways to get to the end result with less effort and less time. Alternatively, consider how you can combine tasks. You could listen to podcasts, audio notes, or even lectures while you cook or clean, for example.

4. Break Up Your Routine

Huge chunks of time are daunting. Instead of trying to get all your education requirements done at once, break them up throughout the day. You could listen to a podcast or vodcast when you first wake up before work, for example, and then during lunch could go over one of the articles in your reading, and then after work could do any other tasks you need to for the day.

Breaking up your day also has the added benefit of making information more bite-sized and, therefore, more easily digestible. You’ll be able to memorize and learn more by taking it easy with this method.

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