Nursing career opportunities for BSN graduates

by Ed Ventura | Apr 23, 2018

Edited by Susan Sullivan | April 23, 2018

Top BSN Degree Career Options

At Marian University, we believe being a nurse is not just a career—it’s a calling.

Becoming a registered nurse (RN) isn’t for everyone. While nurses provide routine annual health care exams, screenings, and testing, they also care for patients who are injured, ill, and in pain. They interact with family members worried about their loved ones. RNs often work 12-hour shifts that include evenings, weekends, and holidays. Their work can be physically and emotionally challenging. In short, nursing is a demanding profession.

On the other hand, being an RN is one of the most important, rewarding, and meaningful professions in life. And earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is the key to this well-paying career that offers great opportunities and a range of options from which you can choose.

According to the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for RNs varies depending on the state or region where they live and practice. In California, for example, the average annual wage is $102,700 while in Pennsylvania it is $69,820. Nationally, the 2017 median wage for RNs was $70,000. The employment outlook for RNs through 2026 is 15 percent, which is much faster than average.

Here are just a few of the career opportunities for BSN-prepared RNs.

Surgical nurse

A surgical nurse—sometimes referred to as a scrub, peri-operative, or operating room (OR) nurse—assists patients, anesthesiologists, and surgeons. They may work in general surgery or specialize in cardiac, pediatric, thoracic, orthopaedic, and other types of surgery.

The work of a surgical nurse takes place before, during, and after routine and elective surgeries, emergency surgeries for the critically injured, and life-saving surgeries, like organ transplants, for those with serious illnesses and diseases.

Surgical nurses transport patients from their rooms to operating theatres and post-surgery recovery areas. They monitor vital signs, start IV lines, sterilize incision areas, pass instruments to surgeons, operate medical and surgical equipment, and alert members of surgical teams if blood pressure, heart rate, or oxygen levels change during procedures.

Given the nature of their work, surgical nurses need top skills, competencies, and training to be members of a surgical team. At a minimum, surgical nurses are state-licensed RNs. Some may have additional professional certifications or education.

ICU nurse

An intensive care unit (ICU) nurse, also known as a critical care nurse, cares for patients who are experiencing serious or life-threatening injuries often caused by trauma or illness.

These RNs work in close cooperation and collaboration with teams of healthcare professionals to ensure patients get the best possible care. They may practice in general hospital ICU units or, like surgical nurses, they may specialize in caring for specific types of patients or patients with certain types of critical health issues. They ensure essential equipment like ventilators are properly functioning, monitor vital signs, order diagnostic tests, and administer medication.

RNS who work in ICU settings may experience challenging, sometimes stressful conditions and often make critical decisions when patient conditions are unstable or rapidly change. They may also care for patients who have do-not-resuscitate or other advance healthcare directives.

Pediatric nurse

Love children? Pediatric nurses work with infants, toddlers, tweens, and teens from birth through puberty. Many have the joy of seeing their patients grow from babies into young adults.

Pediatric RNs work with parents, pediatricians, and other practitioners to provide general healthcare for kids, like immunizations. They advise parents about things like proper nutrition and when children can typically be expected to reach key physical and cognitive milestones.

They work in settings ranging from children’s hospitals to physician offices, surgery centers, community clinics, and schools. They may specialize in neonatal, cardiology, oncology, or other types of healthcare. They also care for children who have experienced trauma and abuse.

Pediatric nurses RNs assist children needing services ranging from stitches to treatment for broken bones. They also help children with more serious conditions, like cancer, organ failure, chronic illness, and life-threatening conditions.

Hospice nurse

One of the most rewarding nursing careers can be hospice or palliative care, providing assistance that gives patients a respite from the pain, symptoms, and stress of terminal illnesses like cancer. They help patients live in comfort and may prepare family members for the patient’s death.

Hospice RNs work in settings ranging  from a special wing of a hospital or assisted living facility to their patient’s home. They monitor overall health conditions, administer pain medications, ensure medical equipment is fully operational, and keep patients clean and comfortable in their final days.

Palliative care RNs provide similar care for those with serious illnesses. Their goal is to improve and maintain the best possible quality of life for their patients, providing extra support as a member of a team that includes physicians and specialists overseeing treatments that improve quality of life for patients suffering from cancer, heart or kidney failure, diseases like Parkinson’s or ALS, or dementia.

With a BSN, your career opportunities are wide open, you just have to decide what path appeals to you. Learn more about Marian’s BSN degree.

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