The Window of Career Opportunity
Three hospital workers rush a patient on a gurney down a hallway.

Every nursing specialization has its own challenges, but the greater issue may be getting into your specific field of choice in the first place.


Nursing is a field ripe with paths for career advancement and specialization. With experience, an LPN may rise to a supervisory role. With additional coursework, he or she can be credentialed in a subspecialty such as IV therapy.

By earning a master's degree, an RN can become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), which includes focused jobs such as clinical specialist, anesthetist, nurse-midwife and nurse practitioner. Other advanced degrees open doors to positions in management, administration and public policy. RNs can become researchers and sales representatives for drug and medical supply companies, or entrepreneurs in those or related areas.

However, as of 2012, the sluggish economy was threatening nursing opportunities in two ways. First, to fight rising costs, some hospitals were increasing overtime hours of their employees rather than hiring more staff. When a position did open up, it may have gone to a semi-retired or part-time nurse who was pressed to work full-time by the recession.

Meanwhile, a glut of new graduates was dampening demand. Experienced nurses who return to school for an advanced degree always risk finding greater competition when they finish their studies. Some authorities argue for allowing nurse practitioners to take on some responsibilities traditionally reserved for physicians. This would not only increase opportunities, they say, but also meet the growing need for health care.