Overview of Career Advancement Opportunities for Nurses

The healthcare domain offers many career advancement opportunities for professional nurses and APRNs.

There are over one hundred disciplines available to nurses depending on their education, background, and specialization.

As a result, it’s one of the most multifaceted trades for people who want to make money and advance their careers.

Nursing offers professions in bedside care, research, legal consulting, mental health, technology, and entrepreneurship.

It allows individuals of all backgrounds to pursue highly satisfying and rewarding work.

Below is a description of some of the most common career paths available to nurses.

Not all job titles below require a registered nursing degree.

However, nurses aspiring to work in specific fields must obtain proper certification or degrees to operate in that domain.


CNAs provide bedside care to patients with disabilities, mental illnesses, sicknesses, and other medical issues.

With that said, CNAs have not acquired the same training and education as other nurses.

As a result, they have a minimal scope of practice compared to LPNs, RNs, and advanced practice registered nurses.

They are also limited in career choices and need additional education to become an LPN or RN for particular jobs.

Most high-level healthcare institutions hire nurses with further education, like registered nurses with advanced training and education.

Finally, CNAs are usually accompanied by an LPN, registered nurse, or licensed healthcare professional.

It ensures CNAs perform their duties effectively and efficiently and that patients receive adequate medical care.

CNAs play a vital role in healthcare by reducing the workload of other medical professionals.

That way, they can focus on high-level medical care and treatments.

LPN | Licensed Practical Nurses

An LPN or licensed practical nurse gives primary healthcare to sick, injured, or disabled individuals.

LPNs perform numerous healthcare duties to ensure patient safety and well-being.

For instance, they monitor patients’ conditions, keep medical records, and administer medications.

They also help patients with physical tasks like moving, lifting, dressing, walking, bathing, and feeding.

Finally, some LPNs work at nursing homes or residencies managing chores/tasks patients have difficulty completing.

A registered nurse, physician, or higher-level licensed healthcare provider may supervise an LPN.

It ensures that patients receive adequate care and lets other professionals handle more comprehensive medical tasks.

LPNs work in a wide variety of healthcare settings.

It includes hospitals, nursing homes, physicians’ offices, and rehab facilities.

LPNs must strongly desire to help patients with ailments or acute medical conditions.

They should also have plenty of patience as work can be slow-paced and repetitive.

That said, it’s a fantastic career for people who love helping others.

LPNs have the opportunity to build lasting, long-term friendships with the patients they serve.

Registered Nurse

Registered nurses spend years in college developing skills to provide medical care to patients in various healthcare settings.

These medical professionals provide bedside care to patients with diverse illnesses, diseases, and injuries.

They operate in hospitals, urgent care centers, emergency departments, clinics, and government facilities.

Unlike LPN, registered nurses have acquired advanced health training.

As a result, they can perform more complex tasks and responsibilities.

For instance, they supervise LPNs, CNAs, and nurse aides.

They also perform nursing assessments, administer medications,  and work in emergency departments.

RNs who receive adequate training can work as researchers, legal consultants, forensic nurses, and school nurses.

As a result, they have significantly more job opportunities than nurse aides, CNAs, and LPNs.

There are over one hundred specializations for registered nurses with adequate education and training.

Registered Nurse Responsibilities

  • Assess their patient’s medical condition (observe and interpret symptoms)
  • Evaluate patients throughout the rehabilitation process
  • Administer medications and treatments
  • Educate patients about their injury, illness, and ailments
  • Collaborate with nurses and doctors/physicians to develop patient care plans
  • Update medical records and documentation
  • Supervise LPNs, CNAs, and nursing assistants
  • Assist patients in the ICU, ED, critical care, trauma unit, and other sensitive environments
  • Feed, bathe, and clean patients unable to care for themselves
  • Remove Stitches

Finally, RNs provide emotional support to patient’s families, friends, and support groups.

They educate them about their medical condition to help them treat it and obtain optimal health.

Nurse Practitioner

A nurse practitioner is an advanced practice registered nurse with an MSN or DNP degree.

These specialists work in various disciplines like pediatrics, neonatal care, family health, and psychiatric care.

Nurse practitioners can perform all of the tasks a registered nurse performs.

However, NPs receive significantly more training and a broader scope of practice than RNs.

As a result, they can perform medical duties outside the range of other nurses.

For instance, nurse practitioners diagnose medical conditions, prescribe medications, and act as primary care providers.

They can also design rehabilitation programs, perform minor procedures, and operate independently owned clinics.

Nurse practitioners can specialize in a single healthcare domain like adult care or pediatrics.

However, some study multiple fields to provide more comprehensive healthcare and become licensed in different areas.

For example, an NP specializing in neonatal care is limited to medical care that falls within their scope of practice.

As a result, they haven’t received adequate training in caring for geriatric patients.

By getting certified in other domains, they gain more flexibility and can provide care to a broader range of patients.

Nurse Anesthetist

A nurse anesthetist is an APRN that provides anesthesia to patients undergoing treatment.

These specialists provide anesthesia during surgeries or extensive operations to ensure patient safety and comfort.

Those who work as nurse anesthetists require extensive training and education because they utilize sensitive life-altering medications.

One small medical error and it have a significant impact on a patient well being.

As a result, they spend many years in school learning anatomy, drug usage, and other topics needed to provide anesthesia.

They must also obtain board certification in the field of anesthesia to obtain their licensure.

Nurse anesthetists work in hospitals, emergency departments, urgent care centers, surgical departments, and the military.

They’re also one of the highest-paid professions in the United States, making more money than some doctors.