What Degree Do I Need To Be A History Teacher – Many see nurses as the backbone of care. The public trusts nurses more than any other profession – rating them as having high ethical standards for the past 17 years, according to the Gallup Ethics Poll.
They are in demand, they can work in a variety of environments, and best of all – they make a tangible difference every day.
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With all of this in mind, it’s easy to see why you should seriously consider a nursing career. But once you start researching nursing-related roles and credentials and the alphabet soup (LPN, RN, DNP, CNS, BSN, CNA) that comes with them, things can quickly become confusing. You just want a simple answer to what education is required to become a nurse – and we can help you explain it.
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What makes this question difficult to answer is the fact that there are several types of nurses with different levels of training needed for these roles. The most common types of nurses, and probably what most people imagine when they think of a nurse, are registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs).
In addition, there are also advanced nurse practitioners such as nurses, nurse practitioners, midwives, nurse anesthetists and clinical nurses. Throw in the not-quite-nursing role of a Nursing Assistant and you have a full range of roles with varying levels of education required to fulfill them.
What degree do you need to become a nurse? Read on for a more in-depth breakdown of where the different types of nursing qualifications fit into the nursing career.
While not technically a nurse, a nursing assistant position is a way to dip your toes into the healthcare field with a relatively small upfront investment. CNAs assist patients with personal care tasks such as bathing, eating and taking vital signs. Although it may not be the most glamorous job, CNAs are needed in all types of healthcare facilities, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, and special nursing homes or long-term care facilities. Patients in nursing homes or long-term care often have limited mobility, dementia and often need check-ins and help with basic tasks.
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Although these positions technically do not require credentialing, becoming a certified nursing assistant requires candidates to complete a short training program and pass a state competency exam that allows those who pass to use specific titles such as CNA (certified nursing assistant or certified nursing assistant) and apply for equivalent positions .
A practical nursing diploma is another good educational option for aspiring nurses who don’t have years to invest in full-time education. A practical nursing diploma can be earned in as little as 12 months, although the exact time to study, apply and get licensed can vary depending on the individual’s schedule and the program.
This option prepares students to take the NCLEX-PN exam and work as a registered practical nurse or as a registered vocational nurse in Texas or California. Although they work alongside an RN, they have an expanded scope compared to CNAs. They are prepared to change dressings, insert catheters, maintain patient records, monitor vitals, and educate patients about medications and treatments.
If you’re looking for a short time to compete, but don’t necessarily want to become a registered nurse, becoming an LPN may be perfect for you. Learn more about the demand for LPNs and how you can help fill it in our article, “Why LPNs are still in demand (and what it means for you).”
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Here is the stage where things can start to get confusing – the degree options that lead to you becoming a registered nurse. You can be an RN with an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, and even a master’s degree.
Both of the common paths to earning an Associate’s Degree in Nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing will prepare you for a registered nursing career, but there are several notable differences. Because an associate’s degree requires fewer credits, ADN nurses generally complete their education earlier than BSN nurses.
Registered nurses perform patient assessments, create care plans, administer medications and treatments, and educate patients and families about treatments and follow-up steps. ADN nurses learn all of these skills and the science behind them while attending classes and performing labs. They also refine their real-world skills by conducting clinics, usually in hospitals.
After graduation, they can apply to work in a variety of settings and specialties, although BSN nurses may have a leg up on ADN nurses when it comes to applying to specialty clinics or departments.
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However, if an ADN nurse wants to take on a leadership role or move into a BSN-only nursing specialty, their experience and associate’s degree make earning a BSN a smooth transition with an RN-to-BSN program.
Think this might suit you? Find more reasons to consider an ADN in our article, “Becoming a Nurse: Why an Associate’s Degree in Nursing is Right for You.”
Just like an Associate’s Degree in Nursing, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing prepares students to become registered nurses. So why choose this path? First, BSN graduates are generally qualified for a wider variety of job titles. Additionally, BSN students take more courses that delve into the “why?” behind a nurse’s duties and also touch on topics that help prepare them for clinical leadership roles. These courses cover topics such as emerging healthcare technologies, global health, public health, and the impact of law and policy on healthcare.
Another factor to consider when weighing your options at the registered nursing level is the recent push some state policymakers and employers are making to hire more nurses with a BSN. A 2010 report on the future of nursing by the Institute of Medicine recommended that baccalaureate nurses make up at least 80 percent of the nursing population by 2020.
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Many employers and states are following suit – although it’s not a requirement for all RN positions right now. For example, New York lawmakers recently passed a bill requiring all nurses in the state to earn a BSN within 10 years of licensure unless they are grandfathered.
Between a broader knowledge base and the opportunities to further specialize, it’s clear that earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing has many benefits. Read more in our article, “BSN Nursing: 5 Benefits to Earning a Bachelor’s Degree.”
A Master of Science in Nursing can take registered nurses to the next level of nursing education and practice. An MSN can give a nurse more earning power, more qualifications to apply for more jobs, and a greater sense of job satisfaction.
When it comes to choosing an MSN program, your choice depends a lot on the job title you’re aiming for. For example, if you want to become a director of nursing or a CNO, you might want to consider getting an MSN with an emphasis on leadership and administration. If you’ve always wanted to work in the operating room as a nurse anesthetist, you need a specialized MSN program. Or, if you have a passion for educating the next generation of nurses, you should enroll in an MSN program focused on nursing education. With specialized MSN programs, you can also become a registered nurse midwife, clinical nurse specialist or work in public health.
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Many MSN-level nurses are interested in becoming nurse practitioners (NPs). Future NPs often enroll in MSN programs that focus on preparing graduates to work as NPs in a particular medical specialty that can include anything from mental health to orthopedics to primary care.
The nursing profession is in need of highly trained nurses to continue to move the profession forward and train the next generation of nurses. Find more reasons to pursue a nursing degree in our article, “5 Signs You Should Consider Earning an MSN Degree.”
Whether you see yourself working as a nurse on the hospital floor, in the operating room, as a nurse educator in the classroom, a nurse in the boardroom or as a researcher in a lab, the key is to identify your strengths, interests and goals and take the degree that will help you get there .
With a wide variety of nursing titles and the anticipated nursing shortage, it is likely that you will find an in-demand nursing position that you will love. Start brainstorming with our article, “The Top 25 Types of Nurses Employers Want to Hire.”
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The completion time is dependent on the number of approved transfer points and the number of completed courses each semester.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health [accessed January 2020] http://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/Reports/2010/The-Future-of – Nurses lead-Change-Advance-Health.aspx
Kirsten is a content writer at Collegis Education where she enjoys researching and writing on behalf of the university. She understands the difference education can make and hopes to inspire readers at every stage of their educational journey.
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