5 Great Nursing Careers with an Associate’s Degree
- Home Healthcare Services
- Skilled Nursing Facilities
- Doctor’s Offices and Outpatient Care Centers
- Offices of Other Health Practitioners and Specialty Hospitals
- Continuing Care Retirement Communities and Assisted Living Facilities
An Associate’s in Nursing degree is typically intended as entry-level course work to help students gain a foothold in a health-related career. The curriculum provides an overview of basic concepts of nursing practice, and completion typically requires a practicum or internship where student nurses are provided the opportunity for hands-on experience in hospitals, clinics and other health care settings. With an associate degree in nursing, one may qualify to take the National Council Licensure Examination or NCLEX-RN, which is the licensing requirement in all states. The minimum requirements to qualify for nursing jobs are completing an Associate’s in Nursing and passing the NCLEX to earn the registered nurse designation.
1. Home Healthcare Services
The number of homebound seniors and disabled persons will continue increasing for the foreseeable future. US News & World Report cited a research study that indicated that about 2 million elderly Americans are completely or almost completely homebound. This demographic requires assistance with personal care, medication supervision, and in-home therapy. New nurses can handle these tasks competently given the academic and practical training obtained by completing their associate’s degree. Home health care nurses have to be comfortable working independently because they will be working with minimum supervision in the field. A nurse supervisor is usually available for on-call consultations.
2. Skilled Nursing Facilities
Nursing jobs in skilled nursing facilities will provide exposure to the care and treatment of bed-bound patients of various ages. Some facilities may focus on geriatric care alone, but many facilities are open to patients requiring 24-hour care on a temporary or long-term basis. The nursing care required will depend on the patient’s specific needs but typically include medication delivery and supervision, assistance with self-care and other day-to-day routine. New nurses will work under the supervision and guidance of senior nurses, which will provide excellent training opportunities.
3. Doctor’s Offices and Outpatient Care Centers
It takes some skill and understanding of health insurance processes to be an intake nurse in fast-paced and high traffic doctors’ offices and clinics. These jobs are ideal for nurses early in their careers because they may also be tasked with preparing patients to see the doctors, including taking and recording vital signs and pre-consult interviews to improve workflow efficiency for physicians.
4. Offices of Other Health Practitioners and Specialty Hospitals
Nurses with an associate degree may find employment niches in specialty clinics, such as cosmetic surgery centers, dialysis clinics and freestanding emergency departments. These nurses may be charged with triage functions, admissions and discharge processes and other administrative tasks.
5. Continuing Care Retirement Communities and Assisted Living Facilities
Active-adult communities will continue to thrive as a significant portion of the population reach their retirement years. Community living is an efficient way to manage dwindling resources while ensuring that basic health care needs are met. Nurses with an associate’s degree may find employment in these communities fulfilling because the clients are active and independent adults. Some elderly communities may focus on residents who require nurses’ help with routine tasks but remain capable of living on their own.
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An Associate’s in Nursing degree can open doors for those who are trying to establish a career, but many of these jobs are fulfilling enough that one may choose to commit to the field. These jobs are typically less stressful than the jobs of nurses with advance degrees. Additionally, these nursing jobs are more likely to have fixed work hours with weekends and holidays off, which may be well worth the commitment.