Today's medical arena is full of exciting opportunities that give MSN graduates almost unlimited opportunities regarding where to best put their education to use. Though salary information will likely play at least a small part in the decision-making process, there are many more factors to consider. Here are the top eight options for those in the nursing field:
A nurse anesthetist assists in surgical settings, providing support to a surgeon, dentist, or other physician during an operation or other procedure for which the patient would receive sedation. This potentially lucrative specialty requires additional schooling to learn how to safely administer and monitor anesthetic, but the rewards are numerous. Not only do nurse anesthetists get to work in a busy and exciting field, they also boast an average salary of $153,780 per year.
Certified Legal Nurse Consultant
This sub-specialty of nursing is an ideal way to blend a love of medicine with an affinity for or interest in our country's legal system. A legal nurse consultant works in tandem with entities such as law firms, government agencies, insurance companies, consulting firms, the legal departments in various corporations, and patient safety organizations. They will gather client/patient information, organize and analyze that data. They will then present the results or testify as part of legal proceedings, case management discussions, or other relevant scenarios. For all this, those hired for nurse consultant jobs can expect to earn an average of $71,730 annually.
Flight or Transport Nurse
When an accident site is too remote or otherwise unreachable in a timely manner using typical ground transport, hospitals turn to air ambulances to cut down pre-treatment lag time and get the patient to a medical facility as quickly and as safely as possible. Also used to transport critical patients from smaller hospitals to larger, often better-equipped facilities, these helicopters or small planes employ transport nurses to ensure patients are properly cared for while en route. To become a flight or transport nurse you must be licensed as a registered nurse in the state you intend to practice in, possess a recommended 2-3 years’ worth of critical or emergency care experience, and obtain relevant certifications.
Registered nurses with an itch to see the world may want to explore travel nursing. Through an agency, these nurses are contracted out to health care facilities all across the country and internationally for periods of 8-13 weeks or more. There are opportunities for nurses in most specialties, and pay is generally proportionate to experience, location, and the amount of overtime worked. In addition, a travel nurse may be compensated for travel and housing.
Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
Registered nurses who have an interest in the obstetrics field might be suited for training as a Certified Nursing Midwife (CNM). While many people assume midwives are little more than birthing coaches, this profession actually requires quite a bit of advanced education beyond a bachelor's degree program and registered nurse degree. You will also need to complete a nationally accredited CNM program, pass a national certification exam, and have supervised clinical experience. Once certified, a CNM will possess the training necessary to assist in the entire reproductive cycle, from pre-conception counseling to childbirth – both natural and high risk – to post-partum support. A CNM can make an average of $96,970 per year, depending on geographic location, experience, and the facility they choose to work in.
Fans of hit shows like CSI or Bones might be interested to know that there are real-life opportunities for nurses to help identify victims and perpetrators of crimes such as sexual assault, homicide, abuse, and neglect. Forensic nurses assist law enforcement agencies by interviewing and examining victims – both alive and deceased – as well as taking photographs, gathering and cataloging forensic evidence, and reviewing their findings to help solve the crime at hand. Forensic nurses may also serve as expert witnesses in a courtroom setting, either for the prosecution or the defense.
For missionary nurses, this career is less about money and more about making a difference. Many missionary nurses are volunteers who donate their time, energy, and talents to benefit third world countries who lack the access to basic health care that so many people in developed nations take for granted. In addition to a nursing degree, missionary nurses must take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), observe the licensing laws of the country they're planning on practicing in, and obtain a work visa. Depending on the organization with which a missionary nurse works, some religious or cultural training may also be recommended or required.
For nurses who might not have an affiliation with a particular religion but still want a chance to serve the greater good, military nursing may be an interesting option. The U.S. Army, Air Force, and Navy all have their own medical personnel (medical care for the Marines and Coast Guard is handled under the auspices of the Navy) who have the opportunity to work in a variety of unique and interesting fields both at home and abroad. Pay is largely dependent on a number of factors including rank, specialty, and where the nurse is stationed. Salary may be at least partially delivered in the form of housing, education, and other cost-of-living allowances.
This is just a sampling of the many opportunities that are afforded to those who have dedicated their life to a nursing career. Nurses are not found just in hospitals and doctors' offices any longer.