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There has been a shift in the way the field of nursing is viewed over the past 10 years. These medical professionals are no longer just faces on the sidelines assisting doctors with their examinations, but they are now able to start their own practices and see patients without a doctor supervising them. The role of the nurse changed significantly during the pandemic, and the medical profession became highly dependent on nurses and valued them as integral members of any healthcare team. 

When a nurse starts off in the profession, they generally start as a registered nurse with a bachelor’s degree. With advanced education, certifications and licenses, these valued members of the medical community can move into leadership roles that involve higher pay, more autonomy, and a strong feeling of fulfillment. These leaders can also become role models and mentors for newer nurses and pass on their knowledge and experience to shape the nursing profession for the future.  

There are several ways in which the healthcare industry provides opportunities for nurse leaders and empowers them to succeed beyond assisting doctors. Some ways include education, training, specialized certifications as well as other paths of success. 

Education and training

Studying for a family nurse practitioner degree from an accredited university like Carson-Newman provides a way in which nurses can move up to positions with more responsibility and autonomy. A family nurse practitioner is a nurse who has received an advanced degree and, in some states, is able to practice without the supervision of a doctor. Nurse practitioners fulfill a need in the medical community for those areas where healthcare is hard to come by and doctors are scarce. Practitioners will usually start their own family practices and treat multiple generations of families.

Another degree that benefits nurses aspiring to be leaders in their industry is a Master of Science in nursing, which can provide the necessary credentials for nurses to pursue different fields such as research or teaching. Higher education has become a must for those individuals who have the experience and desire to move up in their careers. 

Training opportunities are also becoming more prevalent for nurses and they can train for a specialty if something is of interest to them. Different areas of practice such as surgical nursing, obstetrics, and geriatric nursing are all specialties that an ambitious nurse can take special courses in to move into those departments. 

Specialized certifications

Another important way for a nurse to move up is to apply for specialized certifications such as those to become nurse executives or advanced practice nurses. These certifications provide another credential that nurses can use to rise to a leadership position such as manager or executive within their health organization. Certifications can be done online, and in some cases, the organization may pay for the process as it benefits their nursing departments. A nurse with multiple certifications is a valuable member of any healthcare team and can provide leadership to the team with knowledgeable insight. 

Mentorship programs

Many medical institutions offer a mentorship program that matches highly knowledgeable and experienced nurses with newer nurses so they can pass on their wisdom and offer motivation. Being able to bend the ear of a seasoned nurse can help new employees navigate their jobs with confidence as they have someone they can contact if they have questions or concerns. Mentors provide not just great experience, but they have probably been through every situation in nursing many times, so they can give experienced advice on how to handle conflicts in the workplace. A great mentor can make all the difference to a new nurse as that individual learns the ins and outs of their job which can be very stressful.

Leadership development

Some individuals are natural leaders and can command the attention of a group of their peers effortlessly. Leadership is also a skill that can be taught and perfected in workshops or seminars. Smart institutions will offer their nurses leadership programs so they can pinpoint those individuals who are interested in leading positions as well as those with skill and experience. Programs like these focus on communication skills, management, and critical thinking as well as other tools that are necessary to lead in the medical community.


The one area that has changed considerably in the nursing profession is the support nurses have when advocating their profession. Nursing organizations such as the American Nurses Association (ANA) provide resources for nurses who want to make a difference in the industry and provide leadership to make positive changes in their industry. ANA and other associations work to ensure that nurses are well-represented in decision-making processes, policy development, and strategic planning.

Collaborative practices

There is a strong belief within the healthcare industry that patients should be under the care of a medical team, rather than several autonomous doctors and nurses. Nurses are a huge part of that team. A nurse is generally the first face a patient will see on a regular basis and often acts as an advocate for the patient. Nurses have unique roles in medical teams as they are adept at dealing with patients and their families on a personal level and can diagnose and treat. These professionals can communicate with all stakeholders on their own levels and help the patient navigate what can be a scary and confusing time in their care. 

Nursing is a challenging and rewarding occupation that is experiencing a critical shortage in the United States. The opportunities for individuals in this field have never been greater, and these professionals are valued and respected within the medical community. There are many ways that nurses are empowered to move into leadership roles and expand their education such as getting an advanced degree, specialized certifications, acting as a mentor or mentee, and collaborating with colleagues to offer exceptional patient care. By empowering new nurses to follow their dreams, they can then lead a new generation of nurses to provide exceptional care.

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