How to Become a Senior Nurse

nursing career, nurse career, How to become a senior nurse, senior nurse courses
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There are lots of incredible benefits to pursuing a career in nursing. When you become a nurse, you will make a positive impact on society, save lives, and help those in need. Most nurses report high job satisfaction and enjoy their work duties and responsibilities. There is also a massive shortage of skilled healthcare professionals like nurses. This means that nurses have fantastic career prospects and plenty of advancement opportunities.

One way that registered nurses can advance in their careers is by training to become senior nurses. A senior nurse has many of the same duties as a registered nurse, although they take on greater responsibilities in the workplace. Often, senior nurses are in charge of managing a particular ward or nursing team. Training to become a senior nurse is a huge commitment, and you will need to earn advanced qualifications like a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). DNP programs are designed to prepare registered nurses for leadership careers in nursing and typically takes between three and four years to complete. They are hard work, but the qualification can lead to a long and rewarding career as a senior nurse. If you’re interested in taking your nursing career to the next level, then here are the key steps you will need to take to become a senior nurse.

Understand the responsibilities of a nurse

As mentioned, senior nurses have a lot of the same duties and responsibilities as regular nurses.  Working as a nurse can be extremely rewarding, but not everyone would enjoy the role. You must understand the responsibilities of a nurse and check that you have the skills and personality traits to be an effective nurse. You should research the job and gain a clear understanding of the role before you enroll in a nursing degree or commit to higher qualifications like DNP programs. Here are some of the typical duties of a registered nurse:

  • Assessing patients and making a record of symptoms and medical history.
  • Monitoring patients’ health and tracking their vital signs.
  • Completing diagnostic tests and arranging medical examinations.
  • Providing patients with healthcare advice and support.
  • Administering treatment and medication.
  • Collaborating with other members of the healthcare team e.g., doctors or medical secretaries.

Gain hands-on nursing experience

If you are interested in pursuing a career as a senior nurse, then you must gain hands-on nursing experience. Most nursing degrees include nursing placements as part of the learning syllabus. However, you should be proactive and start building hands-on experience as soon as possible. Work experience will give you a genuine insight into the nursing profession and help you determine whether it is the right career path for you. Nursing degrees and DNP programs are a big investment, so you must be certain that you want to become a nurse before you enroll.

According to, you can gain nursing experience by applying for internships through your school or college, signing up for a mentorship program, or volunteering in a healthcare setting such as a hospital or a hospice. Try not to be picky when it comes to work experience and take advantage of any opportunities on offer. Nursing experience will develop your skills and knowledge and give you a competitive advantage when you start applying for senior nursing roles. It will also allow you to expand your professional network and connect with professionals in the nursing sector.

Apply for nursing school

If your ultimate goal is to become a senior nurse, then you will need to start by earning the qualifications to become a registered nurse. You must earn a nursing certification before you can apply for advanced qualifications like DNP programs. The traditional route to becoming a registered nurse is to study for a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing usually take four years of full-time study, although you may also have the option to study part-time. You can choose to study for a nursing degree at a campus or online. You should weigh up the pros and cons of each option carefully and choose the best course for you and your circumstances. Take a look at this article for the pros and cons of studying for a degree online. Nursing degree programs are hard work and require rigorous training and assessments. They are designed to prepare you for the challenges of working in a clinical setting and for advanced nursing courses such as DNP and MSN programs.

Obtain a nursing license

You can apply for a nursing license once you have completed an accredited nursing degree program. You must be granted a license before you can apply for nursing roles and practice in a clinical setting. The criteria for licensure differ between states, so you must check what is required in your particular location. Most states require graduate nurses to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) before granting a license. You can visit the Nursing License Map website to check the nursing license requirements in your state. Once you have received a license, you will be classed as a registered nurse and will be able to apply for nursing positions. You will then have the opportunity to earn advanced nursing certifications such as DNP programs.

Develop your nursing skills

Many registered nurses work in a clinical setting to build their skills and expertise before considering DNP programs and other higher certifications. Working in a clinical setting will allow you to apply your skills and test your knowledge and capabilities. You will also have the opportunity to explore different areas of nursing and choose a specialty based on your work preferences and interests. Working as a senior nurse is hard work, and you will take on additional responsibilities. Building your nursing experience will develop your skillset and ensure that you feel confident when you progress in a senior nursing role.

Keep in mind that hiring managers will expect you to demonstrate a certain level of hands-on nursing experience before applying for senior roles. According to, “most hospitals require nurse managers to have at least two years of nursing experience before qualifying for the position.” Working as a nurse will also give you insight into the role of a senior nurse. This will help you determine whether you would enjoy the position before you commit to additional training.

Learn about the role of a senior nurse

If you want to become a senior nurse, then you will need to advance your skills and expertise by completing additional training and certifications. DNP programs are hard work, and you will be required to invest time and money to earn the necessary qualifications. With that in mind, you must have a strong understanding of the role of a senior nurse and clarify that this is the right career path for you. Senior nurses have similar duties to regular nurses, but advancing into a leadership role can have a significant impact on your daily routine and responsibilities. You must research the role and check that you have the skills and personality traits to be an effective leader.

The Nursing Times describes how senior nurses must develop strong skills in decision making, conflict resolution, and delegation. Senior nurses are also responsible for nurturing and encouraging their teams. They must therefore have strong empathy and be emotionally in tune with their staff. Many leadership qualities can be acquired on DNP programs and other advanced nursing certifications. That said, not everyone is cut out for leadership roles. This is why you must research the position and learn about the role of a senior nurse before pursuing this career path.

Consider an MSN degree

An MSN degree can prepare you for senior roles in the nursing profession. Nurses with an MSN degree typically enjoy higher pay, better working hours, and wider career options. An MSN will also advance your nursing expertise and develop your skills and knowledge. Most MSN degrees take two years to complete. If you are already employed as a nurse, then you can earn an MSN qualification alongside working by choosing an online MSN program. Earning an MSN degree online will give you great flexibility and allow you to fit learning around your existing routines and commitments. Completing an MSN degree can be a great stepping stone to earning a DNP. MSN nurses often choose to enroll in DNP courses to advance their skills and boost their career outlook in the nursing profession.

Research DNP programs

Many nurses who hope to progress into leadership roles complete DNP programs to advance their skills and knowledge. DNP programs are the highest level of clinical nursing education and are designed to prepare nurses for the most senior positions. Having a DNP degree will set you apart from your peers and give you a competitive advantage when you apply for senior nursing roles. Nurses who complete a DNP typically have a higher salary potential and better job prospects when compared to nurses without the qualification. This makes DNP degrees a worthwhile investment for any nurse who wants to advance in their career and move into a leadership position.

Most DNP programs take three to four years to complete on a full-time course. Some students study for a DNP part-time and earn the qualification in four years, although it often takes five to seven years to complete DNP programs part-time. Studying for a DNP degree is not cheap, so you must be committed and weigh up the pros and cons carefully. DNP nurses are in high demand, and some hospitals and healthcare facilities will pay for nurses to complete DNP programs to advance their skills. If you are currently working as a nurse, then it’s worth speaking to your employer to see if they would be prepared to support your education and development. If this is not an option, then you can apply for financial assistance to fund DNP programs. This includes loans, scholarships, and grants. Make sure that you research what financial support is available if you are considering DNP programs or alternative nursing qualifications.

Apply for senior nursing positions

Once you have the required experience and qualifications, you will be in a position to apply for senior nursing roles. Many senior nurses work in hospitals, but you may also be able to find employment in other settings such as private clinics or community healthcare centers. Research the different work settings and apply for roles that will suit your skills, interests, and work preferences. You might decide to apply for a leadership position with your current employer or seek new opportunities elsewhere.

Make sure that you update your resume before you start applying for senior nursing roles. Skilled nurses are highly sought-after, especially those who have completed DNP programs. However, there is still completion for the best position, so you must impress hiring managers with your resume. You need to win over potential employers with your resume, or you are unlikely to be offered an interview. Writing a stand-out resume takes time and effort, but it is well worth it! If you are struggling to write your resume, then look at senior nurse resume examples online. You can also download a free template to guide you when writing your resume. You can also speak with a specialist recruiter for advice and tips on how to write an impressive senior nurse resume.


Nursing is a rewarding field that offers fantastic job benefits. Skilled nurses are in high demand across the world and enjoy excellent career opportunities. Becoming a senior nurse will allow you to take on additional responsibilities and have a stronger impact on the healthcare sector. Senior nurses also enjoy higher salaries, better work hours, and personal satisfaction. Training to become a senior nurse takes time, and you will need to advance your skills by completing advanced qualifications like an MSN degree or DNP programs. This is a big commitment, but it’s also a worthwhile investment for any nurse with the ambition to become a leader in the nursing profession.

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