You did it. You graduated. You’re a nurse now.
What are some things you can do after your nursing degree?
You’ve worked hard and now you’re standing on the edge of your future, yelling into the abyss… (Ok, a little dramatic.) But you’re standing at a crossroads, and probably thinking, “What now?”
I bet everyone you’ve asked has said something like, “Well it depends on what you want to do.”
Which is vague and frustrating, but also so very true! There are several things you can do after your nursing degree. The cool thing about where you’re at in life right now is that you have so many options open to you. Here are some steps to take if you’re unsure of what in the heck to do with yourself now that you've graduated in nursing.
So, you’ve put in the time, you’re all ready to roll with your degree. But have you already passed the NCLEX? What state are you licensed in? Wait, wait… are you licensed yet? Where do you want to work? Do you want to travel? How is your resume looking?
You’re at the stage where you need to figure out where you want to go, and prepare yourself to get there. Study for your board exams. Make a list of things you need to do before you start a nursing job. Do a little soul searching, even. If that means taking a minute to go on a vacation after your board exams, taking a break, or really, just sitting down and thinking about what you want out of this amazing accomplishment, you’re on the right track.
You prepped. You studied. You passed your exams. You got your license. You’re legit now, and you know what you want to do. Ok, so… get out there! If you want to travel, you’ll need 2 years of experience before you can start. Working in a hospital in a med-surg can give you a variety of experience and exposure to different patients and physicians alike. Plus, it can help you decide whether you enjoy that level of variety or have a passion for something more specific in nursing. When you hit the ground running in your hospital job, that’s when the real learning begins. You’ll be able to decide whether you want to travel, continue your education, do both, or stick around your hospital for a bit longer. Gain some real-world experience in your field, and go be awesome.
GET OUTTA TOWN
You’ve got some wanderlust and you want to bring that into your career life. Good plan! One of great things about being a travel nurse is that you get experience new places and new faces while doing something that you’re passionate about. It’s the best of both worlds, right? But don’t just plan on packing a suitcase and taking off on the next plane. You’ll need to make sure you meet the requirements to become a travel nurse. This is where your recruiter comes in. They can help you stay up-to-date. You’ll need to make sure you have the right licenses and skill set, so if you're curious about what goes into that, read our Q and A With A Fusion QAM post.
Now, travel nursing isn’t just all jet setting, fun and frills; it’s still a lot of responsibility too. But, traveling after your nursing degree gives you a big payoff: you get to have a rewarding career that takes you to new places, give you new experiences, pulls you out of your comfort zone, and allows you to grow as a person. Really, that’s the career holy grail.
CEUs are a requirement to keep practicing as a travel nurse. So make sure you’re keeping up with your learning. Some CEUs for nurses can be found on different sites, like this one. You can also decide on whether you’d like to specialize, advance your degree, or pursue something new. As a nurse, you are always and forever learning new things, so embrace it. When you stay updated on your education, you remain marketable in your field, and, similarly to the travel experience, you grow as a person.
Regardless of which path you choose, your new career in nursing will take you to new and unexpected places, both figuratively and literally. Embrace the change and stay true to yourself.