Nursing Career Pathways

Nursing Career Pathways


The role of nurses in improving the health of individuals, families, and communities by addressing social determinants of health and providing effective, efficient, equitable, and accessible care for all people across the care continuum has been well documented. The need for nurses has continued to grow with an aging population in the US requiring more care, the retirement of the Baby Boomer generation of nurses, and the expanding roles for nurses in the health care system. The COVID-19 pandemic further stressed health care systems already dealing with a shortage of qualified nurses.

With a career horizon brimming with opportunities, young people should see nursing as a dynamic profession that brings great potential for career advancement. Beyond the high demand for nurses to provide direct care, nurses are also needed as researchers, healthcare administrators, educators, policy analysts, nurse executives, and independent practitioners like nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, and nurse midwives. New nurses have virtually unlimited opportunities for progression to advanced degrees in nursing practice, as well as opportunities for teaching the next generation of nurses. With opportunities expanding and the demand for nursing care on the rise, a clear pathway to becoming a nurse is essential to bring young people into the profession. System facilitators must be enhanced, and barriers must be reduced to achieve this goal.

During the 2020 WV legislative session, SB 707 was passed to create a Nursing Career Pathway Workgroup. The legislation directed the WV Higher Education Policy Commission and the WV Community and Technical College System, along with the WV Department of Education to create a career pathway to meet the unmet need for nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, and nurses with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. The workgroup was directed to delineate a program of study that begins in high school and progresses through college, providing employment opportunities with industry partners. Additionally, the workgroup was to minimize, or if possible, eliminate tuition costs for students using any available financial assistance and through encouraging healthcare providers to establish scholarship programs to help cover tuition costs. The goal is to disseminate the career pathway to students statewide beginning with the cohort of students entering ninth grade during the 2021-2022 school year.

The following links are the current work products of the Nursing Career Pathway Workgroup. Work products will be regularly updated and/or added so that they may be used in the years to come to help nurses navigate the pathway.