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Where Can A BSN Take You? 10 Skills-Based Nursing Paths

Earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is no small feat. These programs are often rigorous and time-consuming. Once enrolled in a BSN program, you can expect to devote three (maybe even four) years of study to the pursuit of earning this coveted nursing credential.

Of course, there’s always the RN to BSN option. If you opt for this route, you can add the BSN credential with just one year of additional study after getting your license to practice as a registered nurse.

If you’re considering nursing as a profession, though, you’ll want to ensure it’s the right career path for you. The good news is that the nursing field needs all kinds of different healthcare professionals. That’s right—while it certainly takes a special person to take on the responsibilities of a nurse, not all nurses are alike. The stereotype of the doting bedside professional doesn’t always hold true. Some nursing specialties require a different set of skills.

Consider the following ten nursing skills and how they can be applied to a successful career in healthcare.

Crunching Numbers

Have an affinity for numbers? Perhaps math is your strong suit? You may be surprised to learn that nurses make calculations on a regular basis. They may need to convert measurements or calculate dosages, for instance. Depending on their exact nursing roles, they may also need to add up calories, estimate a pregnant mom’s due date, or compute a patient’s glycemic index.

With a BSN, you can open doors to nurse roles that emphasize numerical skills, too. For instance, you’ll have the opportunity to put these nursing skills to particularly good use in the role of a nurse informaticist. Nurse informaticists enjoy rewarding careers, both intrinsically and financially. PayScale reports the average salary for these types of nurses to be just over $77,500.

Keep in mind, though, that many nurse informaticists hold advanced degrees such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). The minimum credential for entry into the field is a BSN, however.

Childcare

Nurses have a variety of opportunities to work with kids. If you have a desire to work with little ones, then you may consider becoming a pediatric nurse or neonatal nurse, for instance. While pediatric nurses can work with any patient under the age of 19, neonatal nurses specialize in the care of newborns and infants.

These aren’t the only types of nurses who work with children, though. If you want to interact with youngsters in a non-clinical setting, you may want to consider becoming a school nurse. School nurses support student learning by ensuring that children are in good physical, mental, and emotional health. This may include assessing minor ailments like an upset stomach or playground fall, for instance. It could also include counseling students who experience anxiety or social concerns during the school day. School nurses must also communicate with children’s parents and teachers regarding their health and wellbeing.

Though PayScale reports the average salary of school nurses to be just over $46,000, there is the potential to make much more. Top earners can expect to make upwards of $65,000 per year.

Legal Knowledge

It is important for all nurses to have a basic understanding of the legal environment of nursing, especially regarding patient rights. Some types of nurses need a better basis of legal knowledge than others, though. In fact, there are nurse professionals whose primary role is within the legal field.

The courtroom probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think of potential nursing skills. However, some nurses do their most important work in front of a judge and jury. These legal nurse consultants provide professional assistance to lawyers working on cases involving healthcare such as insurance disputes and malpractice cases, for instance. Nurses who work in the legal field may never administer medication, but they play important roles in ensuring quality patient treatment. 

Legal nurse consultants are well-compensated for their work, too.  According to PayScale, these types of nurses can make over six figures per year. Still, the average salary for legal nurse consultants is roughly $78,000, and they may start out making around $56,000 per year.

Most legal nurse consultants hold a minimum of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), but some have a master’s degree in the field. In addition, formal certification is available through the American Legal Nurse Consultant Certification Board (ALNCCB).

Cleanliness

Are you a bit of a germaphobe? Perhaps your friends tease that you have a touch of OCD? I’ll bet you never considered that being on any list of nursing skills! If you possess these qualities, then you may excel at infection control. Typically, a nurse may work to prevent infections on a patient by patient basis. As an infection control nurse, however, you can play a much broader role in infection prevention. These types of nurses are usually responsible for helping prevent the spread of germs within an entire hospital or other clinical facilities. They often tackle this considerable chore by researching the spread of disease and discovering strategies to mitigate it, developing daily protocols and programs for a germ-free healthcare environment, and educating hospital staff on effective infection prevention.

Infection control nurses may make up to $93,000 annually, though their average salaries fall around $70,000, according to PayScale. Entry-level infection control nurses may start out making just over $50,000 per year.

Most employers prefer that infection control nurses hold at least a BSN. Professional certification from the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) may also be required.

Compassion for Patients

It may seem obvious that having a kind heart would show up when considering nursing skills. In fact, most nurses have a healthy dose of compassion to offer their patients, some roles within the nursing field require a larger capacity for empathy than others. If you’ve been told you have a particularly big heart, then certain occupations within nursing may be more suitable for you than others.

For instance, if you want to do more for a patient than simply check his or her vitals or deliver pills, then you may consider the unique position of a nurse navigator. As the title suggests, these types of nurses guide patients throughout their journey through the healthcare process. Nurse navigators may counsel patients, advise them of their treatment options, and help coordinate their care amongst various doctors and treatment providers.

Many nurse navigators work in oncology, helping cancer patients navigate their path to recovery. These types of nurses work in other areas of healthcare as well, though. In order to practice this nursing specialty, you may need to become professionally certified by the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators.

The salary potential for nurse navigators is well over $90,000, according to PayScale, though the median annual wage is closer to $73,000. Entry-level nurse navigators sometimes make under $60,000 per year.

Investigative Skills

Are you good at getting to the bottom of things? Perhaps a career in law or criminal justice was once on your radar. Believe it or not, a nose for crime can be useful in the field of healthcare as well. In fact, it can be considered one of the most important nursing skills. After all, nurses routinely work with victims of crime, including those involving physical and sexual assault as well as mental and emotional abuse.

Forensic nurses, in particular, are charged with treating crime victims and even advocating for them.  What is a forensic nurse? Normally the word “forensics” is associated with professionals in the field of criminal justice, not healthcare. Forensic nursing is where these two fields intersect, however.

Although forensic nurses may treat patients (especially those who are victims of assault or abuse), they also do important legal work. Specifically, these types of nurses can consult with lawyers and other types of legal advocates and even provide expert testimony in a court of law. As a forensic nurse, you may have the opportunity to specialize in a specific area of the field such as child abuse, sexual assault, or domestic violence, for instance.

On average, forensic nurses make about $59,000 per year, according to PayScale. Your actual salary can depend on a variety of different factors, though, including your employer, specialty area, and years of experience, for example. PayScale reports the salary range for forensic nurses to be between $51k and $69k annually.

Though a BSN is usually sufficient for entry into the field, some forensic nurses hold a master’s degree. In addition, many employers may prefer that candidates hold professional certification. The American Institute of Health Care Professionals offers a certification program for forensic nurse specialists.

Efficiency

The best nurses are efficient ones. No matter what your specific role in nursing, you’ll be responsible for providing patient care in a way that minimizes waste. You’ll also be required to use your time wisely, ensuring that you allocate your attention to the patients who need it the most.

Some types of nurses need to practice a greater level of efficiency than others, though. If you want to make a big difference in terms of how hospitals manage their resources, you may consider the job of a utilization review nurse. These types of nurses are responsible for monitoring how medical facilities disperse treatments and medications to patients, ensuring resources are utilized efficiently and effectively. This requires conducting regular audits and keeping careful records of hospital procedures.

In addition to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, some employers prefer that candidates have professional certification from the American Board of Quality Assurance and Utilization Review Physicians.

PayScale reports that utilization review nurses make nearly $72,000 per year on average. Still, your exact salary will vary based on numerous factors such as your specific role, place of employment, and years of experience in the field. In reality, you can expect to make anywhere between $58k and $90k annually.

Coaching Qualities

Are you the first to offer someone a pat on the back for a job well done? Are you a natural encourager? Do you like helping others achieve their goals? These are all qualities that will serve you well in the field of nursing. After all, healing isn’t just about physical remedies. Patients sometimes need motivation and encouragement in order to get better.

Coaching can be a helpful quality to have in any nursing position, but it may be best suited for the job of a nurse health coach. While it may be true that you don’t normally see the terms “nursing” and “coaching” in the same sentence, the burgeoning role of a nurse health coach is changing that. These types of nurses counsel their patients to practice wellness strategies and take responsibility for their own health through lifestyle changes. Unlike other nursing jobs, the role of a health nurse can provide entrepreneurial opportunities. These healthcare professionals often open their own businesses and take on patients as clientele.

A BSN is typically required for the position of a nurse health coach. Professional certifications in the field are also available through both the International Nurse Coach Association (INCA) and the American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation (AHNCC).

Safety-Consciousness

Do you find yourself looking out for sharp objects or obstacles that could cause someone to trip? Maybe you’re constantly nudging your friends to wear their seatbelts or just reminding others to “be careful.” Safety-consciousness is a useful quality and one of the very important nursing skills. It could help you become a good nurse, especially if you pursue the position of an occupational health nurse.

Workplace safety may not be something that comes to mind when you ponder the responsibilities of a nurse. It is something to contemplate when you consider the role of an occupational health nurse, however. These types of nurses work within myriad industries, ensuring safe and healthy working conditions for employees.

While occupational nurses may provide treatment to employees who fall ill or get hurt on the job, they spend most of their time developing preventative programs to keep workers safe and healthy. Some of their efforts may include workplace exercise programs, stress management initiatives, or smoking cessation plans, for example.

Most occupational nurses have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing with a specialty in occupational nursing. Many are professionally certified by the American Board for Occupational Nurses, Inc.

An Eye for the Big Picture

If you excel in creating “big-picture” type goals for yourself and others, then you may have the makings of an excellent public health nurse. These types of nurses are tasked with the considerable job of improving the health of the community at large. They tackle this chore by developing and implementing educational health programs, infectious disease prevention initiatives, and community-wide nutrition campaigns. Most nurses make a difference in the lives of their patients by treating them one at a time. If you want your impact on people’s health to be more wide-reaching, then you may consider the job of a public health nurse.

A bachelor’s degree in nursing with a specialization in public health is all that is required for an entry-level position as a public health nurse. Still, some candidates pursue professional licensure from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, while others seek an advanced degree such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a concentration in public health nursing.

Nursing skills come in so many forms and if you think all nursing jobs require the same skill-set, you’re in for a surprise. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing can open up countless doors that lead to many different paths in the field of nursing. Each of these paths will necessitate distinct qualities and academic strengths. This makes nursing a suitable career for all types of professionals, not just those who want to provide bedside care.  

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