Nursing & Health

Top career paths for graduates of nursing programs

December 21, 2016 by Lindsay Racen

The world of health care would not be able to survive without the critical contributions of hard working nurses. Their purpose is to provide quality care to those in need by promoting health, preventing disease and helping patients cope with illness. As educators of future leaders in the field, we celebrate new graduates of nursing programs by highlighting the top career paths for their futures.

Registered Nurse

With the significant number of nurses retiring and more hospitals aiming for magnet status, there is a great demand for registered nurses. In fact the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates 19.4 percent employment growth in this field between 2012 and 2022. Its value is clearly illustrated by its U.S. News & World Report rankings standing at number four in the health care industry and sixth in the overall 100 best jobs. It is the perfect starting point for new Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN) graduates to launch their career success.

Depending on the discipline job responsibilities may include clerical work, administering medicine, performing procedures and monitoring patient progress. According to the report, the best-paid 10 percent of RNs made more than $94,720, while the bottom 10 percent earned less than $45,040. In 2012, the highest median salaries were earned by nurses working in government, hospitals and home health care. By location, the highest-paid positions are clustered in the metropolitan areas of northern California, including San Jose, Vallejo and Oakland.

Related Job Positions:

  • Ambulatory Care Nurse
  • Military Nurse
  • Case Management Nurse
  • Nurse Life Care Planner
  • Trauma Nurse

Health Administrators and Leaders

One of the lessons we have learned over the years about the health care industry is that change is a constant. From the front lines to the back offices and public forums innovation is consistently demanded in a world of patient-centered, evidence based care. A few unique schools have recognized this and proactively designed curriculum for a Mater of Health Care Innovation (MHI) degree. It is an interdisciplinary program designed to prepare students to design, implement and lead transformational change in the system.

Graduates of this type of program may be nurses, physicians, architects, physical therapists and entrepreneurial leaders who begin private practice to provide even more personalized care experience. Administrative positions are great pathways for graduates of MHI degrees to pursue. They are often business minded with responsibilities such as managing facilities, services, programs, staff, budgets, and relations with networked organizations. These are the individuals who effectively implement change theory, technological advancements, and create solutions for the industry.

Related Job Positions:

  • Nurse Manager
  • Hospital Operations Executive
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Health Care Legislative Advisor

Nurse Practitioner

The new grads of Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degrees have seemingly hit the jackpot for professional opportunities. Health care reform has intensified the demand for care providers and aging baby boomers are seeking medical treatment at increased rates. In part because of this industry trend, a nurse practitioner position ranks second among all health care jobs and fourth on the top 100 list. Typically they are not motivated by money even when top performers in the field are pulling in six figure incomes, rather they gain reward from the act of helping others.

Many universities that prime DNP leaders offer many options for concentrated study since it is quite common that they become specialists in a dedicated discipline. Brandman University’s Marybelle and S. Paul Musco’s School of Nursing and Health Professions for example provides emphases areas such as family psychiatric and mental health and various levels of adult care among others. Experienced professionals may expand their opportunities by participating in research and teaching future nurses within their specialty.

Related Job Positions:

  • Chief Nursing Officer
  • Health Policy Nurse
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse
  • Family Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Congratulations Graduates

Explore additional health care career paths ranked best by U.S. News & World Report by visiting the website. These are just a few pathways of many available to new grads of nursing programs. It is an amazing and rewarding industry to be a part of with growth opportunities plentiful and inspiration all around. Remember to consider all options and most importantly, like many historic nurses before, follow your passion.


Interested in a different field? Check out related career articles:

Top Career Paths for Business Graduates

Top Career Paths for Education Graduates

Visit the Brandman Blog tomorrow to discover career pathways for BA psychology grads.


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