Stay ahead of the game: Be a nurse practitioner
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Continuing education might just be the answer to staying ahead of the game. In 2005 when retrogression spoiled the dreams of many nurses from the Philippines, mainland China and India to work and earn the big bucks in the United States, it seemed like there was no future for foreign nursing graduates. Many wondered if the effort, time and money spent on their education were for naught.

But the good news is, the need for nurses has not waned a bit. Despite an increase in the number of nurses produced by US schools, the aging population has increased as well. It is predicted that the elderly population will double in 2050 with most of the growth occurring between 2010 and 2030 (US Census Statistical Brief, May 1995). This trend will have a huge impact on the prospects of the medical profession.

Medical advancement ushers in new gadgets and procedures that save or prolong lives. This is where the need for advanced education and experience in nursing will be crucial.

The “pity party” is over. It is time to move ahead and get ourselves “well positioned.” The key is to get oneself enrolled in a master’s degree program, i.e., be a nurse practitioner. Nowadays, it is not enough to simply be a first- level nurse in order to get hired in the United States. There is available employment for nurses with master’s degree (alone or with three years experience, depending on the qualifications required by a specific job).

Examples of such areas of specialty are: Certified, registered nurse anesthetist, clinical nurse specialist, nurse practitioner, high-level nurse managers/administrators, specialists in critical and pre-operative care, occupational health, emergency, oncology and pediatrics.

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Significantly, with more seniors opting to stay in their homes rather than in an assisted living facility, gerontology, hospice and palliative care nursing specialists knowledgeable of the best care possible in a given situation would be in demand. Medical clinics and emergency rooms in hospitals are at present utilizing nurse practitioners because of their ability to prescribe medication to a certain degree.

Nurses with advanced degrees are likewise needed in psychiatry and mental health, both for adults and children. There are medical centers focusing on autistic children alone.

We are familiar with hospitals and care clinics catering to cancer patients. Oncology is a growing field. If one specializes solely in caring for cancer patients, that would be a plus. Other growing fields of specialization are kidney transplants and organ procurement. The list can go on and on. Experience coupled with a master’s degree in a specialized field can be your ticket to success. The traditional role expected of nurses is a thing of the past.

Saving the best for last, having a master’s degree in nursing and years of practice in specialized areas plus an employer petition upgrade the visa classification to EB2 (employment-based 2 ) category.

Unlike the “first-level nurses” whose classification is EB3 and who have to wait for the visa to be current, EB2 category has no waiting time, and one can obtain permanent residence as soon as it is available.

There is also no need for a potential employer to apply for certification or approval from the Department of Labor (DOL), a long and uncertain process, before petitioning an employee because nurses are “pre–certified” occupations under Schedule A Group I. It is an occupation that is “pre-certified” because the DOL recognizes a shortage of nurses in the United States.

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However, one still has to find a US employer who requires a master’s degree in nursing (with or without experience) for the specific job function/s of the position.

Take those advance courses to gain that competitive advantage, and when the time comes, you are ready.