With all of the changes in healthcare occurring in our country, nursing is a profession that is in high demand. Many nursing students wonder if earning an associate’s or bachelor’s degree is enough to provide them with a rewarding career. It certainly is, but obtaining a master’s degree in nursing will open up the door to many more career opportunities. In this article we provide a comprehensive overview of different career opportunities you can pursue once you obtain a master’s degree in nursing.

Nurse Practitioner

Obtaining a master’s degree in nursing can allow you to become an advanced practice nurse. There are many sub-specialties within the nurse practitioner field. You can become a OB/GYN nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, cardiovascular nurse practitioner or a pediatric care nurse practitioner. Nurse practitioners, unlike regular licensed practical nurses (LPNs) or registered nurses (RNs), can actually prescribe medications in the entire United States. In fact, in over twenty states, nurse practitioners can actually set up their own independent practices. Nurse practitioners are licensed to diagnose common illnesses and diseases, help manage common chronic disease such as hypertension, diabetes, depression and even interpret X-Rays and EKGs.

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

These highly specialized nurses are also advanced practice nurses who work side by side with medical doctors known as anesthesiologists. Nurse anesthetists help anesthesiologists administer anesthesia to patients in need of surgery due to an emergency, pregnancy or for another type of common surgical operation. It is also common for nurse anesthetists to work side by side with surgeons, dentists, podiatrists and other medical doctors who administer different forms of anesthesia. It takes on average two to three years to complete a master’s in nursing program with a specialty in nurse anesthesia. There are only so many accredited nurse anesthesia programs in the United States, so gaining entry into these programs is extremely competitive.

Director of Nursing

Nursing managers or directors are also another common field that registered nurses with master’s degrees in nursing also pursue as a career option. Usually, nursing directors are also nurse practitioners, however their sole responsibility is to manage a team of certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses and other registered nurses within a particular department such as emergency room care, surgery, oncology, geriatrics, etc. Nursing directors help with staffing, reporting, office management and other roles that traditionally fall within the domain of healthcare management.

Nurse Midwife

A master’s degree in nursing can also enable you to become a nurse midwife. This advanced practice nurse provide a wide variety of services to pregnant women such as preconception care, childbirth, and even counseling and assistance after childbirth. Nurse Midwives work side by side with obstetricians, family doctors and sometimes even surgeons in the event that a pregnant mother may need a c-section to help deliver her baby. Certified Nurse Midwives can practice independently of a doctor and are often in high demand in rural areas where there is a shortage in qualified medical doctors who can provide obstetric care to women.

As you can see there are plentiful opportunities available for those who pursue a master’s degree in nursing. Obviously there are many more options, and these are just a few examples of what you can do with a master’s degree in nursing. Salaries will rise tremendously and career growth will explode. Take full advantage of what a master’s degree can do for your nursing career.