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If you’re a paramedic, a military medic/Corpsman, or a Licensed Practical Nurse, and you want to keep helping people without the stress of being an emergency responder, or you want to take your healthcare career to the next level, you could consider becoming a Registered Nurse. Here’s how you can get there.

1.  How Your Experience Can Help


How to Apply Your Healthcare Experience
Experience, like critical care, emergency, and trauma could give you an edge when going for your RN, especially when it comes to deciding where to specialize. Here are some nursing specialties where your current experience may help you most. Here are some nursing specialties where your current experience may help you most.

 Critical Care Nurse


Critical Care Nurses make sure all critically ill patients get optimal care for their illnesses and injuries. To do that, they use their specialized skills as well as their in-depth knowledge of the human body and the latest technology in the field. Most Critical Care Nurses work in hospitals, but they can work out of nursing homes, outpatient facilities and flight units, too. As a Critical Care Nurse, you can specialize in treating adults, children, or babies.

THINGS YOU'LL DO:
Perform assessments of critical conditions
Give intensive therapy and intervention
Advocate for their patients
Operate life support systems

YOUR JOB CHARACTERISTICS:
Fast-paced
Multifaceted
Structured
Patient-facing

 Emergency Nurse


Emergency Nurses treat patients in emergency situations where they’re experiencing trauma or injury. These nurses quickly recognize life-threatening problems and are trained to help solve them on the spot. They can work in hospital emergency rooms, ambulances, helicopters, urgent care centers, sports arenas, and more. As an Emergency Nurse, you’ll treat a variety of conditions from sore throats to heart attacks for patients of all ages and backgrounds.

THINGS YOU'LL DO:
Stabilize patients experiencing trauma
Minimize pain
Quickly uncover medical conditions
Teach patients about injury prevention

YOUR JOB CHARACTERISTICS:
Fast-paced
Multifaceted
Structured
Patient-facing

 Flight/Transport Nurse


A Flight/Transport Nurse cares for patients in remote areas who can’t get to a hospital or are on their way to the hospital. They must be able to quickly make decisions in emergency situations, where the outcome will quite often be a choice between life and death. These nurses can work for all kinds of employers, ranging from hospitals and medical disaster teams to airlines and individual patients.

THINGS YOU'LL DO:
Help people in car accidents and natural disasters
Perform medical care to airlifted patients en-route to a hospital
Travel with patients during flights

YOUR JOB CHARACTERISTICS:
Fast-paced
Multifaceted
Patient-facing
Independent

 Infusion Nurse


Infusion Nurses give patients medication and fluids via injection. They monitor patients, manage their tubing, maintain arterial catheters, and stay aware of potential drug complications. Infusion Nurses can be found working in a multitude of locations, including places like hospitals, long-term care centers, clinics, and home health agencies.

THINGS YOU'LL DO:
Administer fluids, medication etc. through IV
Monitor patients IVs and medication
Attend to patients physical and psychosocial needs

YOUR JOB CHARACTERISTICS:
Structured
Patient-facing
Independent

 Labor and Delivery Nurse


Labor and Delivery Nurses help bring people into the world every day. They care for women during labor and childbirth, monitoring the baby and the mother, coaching mothers and assisting doctors. As a Labor and Delivery Nurse, you’ll prepare women, and their families, for the stages of giving birth and help patients with breastfeeding after the baby is born.

THINGS YOU'LL DO:
Monitor the baby’s heart rate and mother’s blood pressure
Time contractions
Identify and assist with complications
Help administer medications and epidurals
Aid in inducing labor
Prepare new mothers for before, during and after pregnancy

YOUR JOB CHARACTERISTICS:
Fast-paced
Multifaceted
Structured
Patient-facing


 Medical-Surgical Nurse


Originally viewed as an entry level position where nurses could gain experience before entering into a specialty, Medical-Surgical Nursing requires mastering so many skills, it is now considered a specialty in and of itself. Medical-Surgical nurses provide direct care to adult patients in a variety of settings and is the largest group of nurses, accounting for almost 1/6 of the nursing profession.

THINGS YOU'LL DO:
Manage care for a large number of patients
Provide care for patients often with multiple diagnoses, across multiple medical specialties
Understand complex differences in medications

YOUR JOB CHARACTERISTICS:
Multifaceted
Structured
Patient-facing

 Military Nurse


Military Nurses care for patients within the military, all over the globe. These nurses are no different from other nurses as they administer medication, treat wounds, and care for the sick. However, one of the more interesting things about being a Military Nurse is that your assignments can take you all over the world.

THINGS YOU'LL DO:
Setup triage in warzones
Treat soldiers
Help patients all over the world

YOUR JOB CHARACTERISTICS:
Fast-paced
Multifaceted
Patient-facing

 Missionary Nurse


Missionary Nurses provide physical and spiritual care to people in other countries that need healthcare. These nurses treat the illnesses and diseases of patients from other cultures, while sharing religion. Often, the work for Missionary Nurses does not end when they return home, but often includes raising awareness and money for medical supplies, clean water, schools and medical facilities in the countries where they’ve served.

THINGS YOU'LL DO:
Share your faith
Setup clinics
Educate the patients on proper health and dental care

YOUR JOB CHARACTERISTICS:
Multifaceted
Patient-facing
Managerial
Independent
Multilingual

 Nurse Anesthetist


This Advanced Practice nurse gives anesthesia and anesthesia-related care to patients before, during, and after surgery. Nurse Anesthetists need to be prepared for a wide variety of situations, which is why the career path to becoming a Nurse Anesthetist is an intensive one. It’s also why Nurse Anesthetists are among the most in-demand, and highest-paid, of all nursing professions.

THINGS YOU'LL DO:
Operating Room care
Outpatient procedures
Emergency Room care
Pain Management
Epidurals

YOUR JOB CHARACTERISTICS:
Multifaceted
Structured
Independent

 Perianesthesia Nurse


Also called Recovery Room Nurses, Perianesthesia Nurses care for patients as they regain consciousness from anesthesia, after surgery. While most patients wake up calmly, these nurses are prepared to handle patients who react aversely, waking up confused, in pain or experiencing breathing problems. As a Perianesthesia Nurse, you’ll also consult with patients before their surgery, and give them recovery tips for when they go home.

THINGS YOU'LL DO:
Recovery Room care
Prepare patients for surgery
Give patients recovery tips for home

YOUR JOB CHARACTERISTICS:
Multifaceted
Structured
Patient-facing

 Perioperative (Surgical) Nurse


Sometimes called a Surgical or an Operating Room Nurse, Perioperative Nurses care for patients before, during and after surgery. They work alongside surgical teams to make sure that patients are receiving the best possible care, and serve as liaisons between the surgical team and the patients’ families. As a Perioperative Nurse, you’ll help patients with recovery immediately following surgery and teach them, and their families, about at-home postoperative care.

THINGS YOU'LL DO:
Interview and assess patients on the day of surgery
Monitor patients and coordinate care during surgery
Maintain a sterile operating room during surgery
Give patients recovery tips for home

YOUR JOB CHARACTERISTICS:
Multifaceted
Structured
Patient-facing

 Poison Information Specialist


Poison Information Specialists are further-specialized Toxicology Nurses. Some can also be licensed pharmacists. They treat patients who have ingested poison, and work with schools and businesses on poison prevention and treatment. As a Poison Control Specialist, you’ll mainly work in poison control centers, and should have experience in the emergency room and intensive care units.

THINGS YOU'LL DO:
Assist patients, who have ingested poison, over the phone
Teach poison prevention and treatment to schools and businesses

YOUR JOB CHARACTERISTICS:
Fast-paced
Multifaceted
Patient-facing
Independent

 Telephone Triage Nurse


Also known as Telehealth Nursing, Telephone Triage Nurses help patients over the phone, answering their health questions and determining what kind of care they need. These nurses are trained to ask patients specific questions in order to asses the situation, and refer them to the proper healthcare provider rather than a clinic or emergency room. Telephone Triage Nurses can consult patients’ health information and charts online, to better assist them.

THINGS YOU'LL DO:
Assist and consult with patients, over the phone
Schedule appointments and referring patients to specialists
Teach patients how to manage their symptoms

YOUR JOB CHARACTERISTICS:
Fast-paced
Multifaceted
Structured
Behind-the-scenes
Multilingual.

 Toxicology Nurse

Toxicology Nurses care for people that have swallowed poisons or come into contact with hazardous toxins. They also treat people that have been bitten by snakes or stung by bees. As a Toxicology Nurse you’ll get the opportunity to care for children and help teach them to avoid poisonous and hazardous materials.

THINGS YOU'LL DO:
Treat poisonous insect and animal bites
Public speaking about poisons and hazards
Develop treatment plans

YOUR JOB CHARACTERISTICS:
Fast-paced
Multifaceted
Patient-facing

 Trauma Nurse


Trauma Nurses treat patients in a state of emergency, and handle urgent situations where the cause of injury or disease isn’t yet known. They can work in hospital emergency rooms and other chaotic environments, and often need to coordinate with doctors, family members and other nurses. As a Trauma Nurse, you’ll be saving people’s lives every day.

THINGS YOU'LL DO:
Admitting patients into the ER
Help maintain vital signs and prevent complications

YOUR JOB CHARACTERISTICS:
Fast-paced
Multifaceted
Structured
Patient-facing

 Travel Nurse


A Travel Nurse works temporary shifts nationally and internationally. Their shifts can be as little as 4 to 13 weeks in local hospitals, or as long as 1-2 years if working overseas, and they perform the same types of duties as a normal RN. Travel nursing is perfect for nurses who like to have a constant change of scenery, and perks like housing and transportation.

THINGS YOU'LL DO:
Work for an agency
Help supplement the nursing staff at healthcare facilities in need

YOUR JOB CHARACTERISTICS:
Multifaceted
Patient-facing
Independent

 Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nurse


A Wound, Ostomy and Nurse cares for patients with wounds caused by medical treatments, diseases, or injuries. They also provide post-surgery treatment and care for patients with ostomies, which are surgical openings that allow for the elimination of bodily waste. These nurses often work with a healthcare team, assessing patients, managing wounds, and monitoring healing.

THINGS YOU'LL DO:
Prevent bedsores
Help ulcers, abscesses and feeding tube sites heal quickly
Clean wounds
Develop wound care treatment plans

YOUR JOB CHARACTERISTICS:
Multifaceted
Structured
Patient-facing

2. The Fast Track to Becoming an RN


How to Apply Your Healthcare Experience
Many nursing schools offer bridge programs for people with previous healthcare experience. While programs vary by state and school, they’re all designed to help you become an RN without repeating the training you already have. Here’s what you’ll want to look for:

Paramedic to RN Bridge Programs
LPN/LVN to RN Bridge Programs
Military Medic/Corpsman to RN Bridge Programs
Online Bridge Programs

If you need a program with maximum flexibility, an online option might be for you. Pros include:

You won’t have to worry about waiting lists.
Your first semester begins when you want it to.
You can go at your own pace, in your own space.
You’ll probably save money.

Once you are a Registered Nurse, you might want to look into programs that’ll help you get an advanced degree more quickly, too:

RN to BSN Programs

Even if you work as an RN with a diploma or associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree is becoming the standard. Since healthcare employers constantly look for more qualified and skilled candidates, a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) will make you more competitive and increase your earning potential.

RN to MSN Programs

More and more schools are offering RN to MSN bridge programs. And with an advanced degree, your role with your patients will become more involved. You’ll be a part of their entire care plan, you’ll prescribe medication, and you’ll even be your own boss. You’ll also have the option to teach the next generation of nurses, helping combat the nursing shortage even more.

3.  Financial Aid Just For You


How to Apply Your Healthcare Experience
There are organizations that offer scholarships, grants, and loans, especially for those with other healthcare experience making the to move to nursing.

You also might be able to get financial assistance like Loan Repayment and Tuition Reimbursement from the healthcare facility where you work.

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