What Degree Do You Need To Be A Forensic Psychologist – Many consider nurses to be the backbone of health 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, can work in a variety of settings, 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 might seriously consider a nursing career. But as soon as you start researching nursing roles and credentials and the alphabet soup (LPN, RN, DNP, CNS, BSN, CNA) that comes with them, things can get confusing quickly. You just want a simple answer to what education you need to do to become a nurse—and we can help finish it.
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What complicates the answer to this question is the fact that there are several types of nurses with different levels of education required 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 practice nurses such as nurse therapists, nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists and clinical nurses. Throw in the non-nursing role of nursing assistant and you have a whole list of roles with varying levels of education required to fulfill them.
What degree do you need to be a nurse? Read on to get a more in-depth breakdown of where the different types of nursing credentials fit into the nursing career.
While not technically a nurse, a nursing position is one way to dip your toes into the healthcare field with a relatively smaller upfront investment. CNAs assist patients with personal care duties such as bathing, eating, and taking vital signs. Although it may not be the most glamorous job, CNAs are needed in all kinds of healthcare settings including hospitals, outpatient clinics and especially nursing homes or long-term care facilities. Patients in nursing homes or long-term care facilities often have limited mobility, dementia, and need frequent check-ins and help with basic tasks.
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Although these positions do not technically require credentials, becoming a certified nursing assistant requires candidates to complete a short educational 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 corresponding positions.
A practical nursing degree is another great educational option for would-be nurses who don’t have years to invest in full-time education. A Practical Nursing Diploma can be obtained within 12 months, although the exact time to study, apply and earn the license 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 licensed practical nurse or as a licensed vocational nurse in Texas or California. Although they work alongside RNs, they have an expanded scope of practice compared to CNAs. They are available to change dressings, insert catheters, maintain patient records, monitor vital signs, 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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This is the stage where things can start to get confusing—the degree options that lead to becoming a registered nurse. You can be an RN with an Associate’s degree, a Bachelor’s degree and even a Master’s degree.
Both common paths to earning an Associate’s Degree in Nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing prepare you for a career as a registered nurse, but there are several notable differences. Because the associate 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 next steps. ADN nurses learn all of these skills and the science behind them by attending classes and performing labs. They also refine their real-life skills by completing clinics, usually in a hospital setting.
After they graduate, they can apply to work in a variety of settings and specialties, although BSN nurses may have an advantage over ADN nurses when it comes to applying to specialty clinics or departments.
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But if an ADN nurse wants to take on a leadership role or enter a BSN-only nursing-only specialty, their experience and associate’s degree make earning a BSN a seamless transition with an RN-to-BSN.
Do you think this might be right for you? Find more reasons to consider ADN in our article, “Becoming a Nurse: Why an Associate’s Degree in Nursing is Right for You.”
Like an Associate Degree in Nursing, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree prepares students to become registered nurses. So why do they choose this path? First, BSN graduates are generally qualified for a greater variety of job titles. Additionally, BSN students take more courses that delve into the “why?” after the duties of a nurse and also touch on topics that help prepare them for clinical leadership roles. These courses include topics such as emerging health technologies, global health, public health, and the influence of health law and policy.
Another factor to consider when weighing your options at the registered nursing level is the recent push by some state policymakers and employers to hire more nurses with a BSN. A report on the future of nursing by the Institute of Medicine (2010) 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—even if it’s not a requirement for all RN positions now. For example, legislators in New York recently passed a bill that requires all nurses in the state to earn a BSN within 10 years of licensure unless they are grandfathered.
Between a broader base of knowledge and the opportunities to specialize further, it’s clear that earning a bachelor of science in nursing has many benefits. Learn more in our article, “BSN Nursing: 5 Benefits of 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 bring nurses greater earning power, higher qualifications to apply for more jobs, and a greater sense of satisfaction at work.
When it comes to deciding on an MSN program, your choice depends largely on what job title you’re aiming for. For example, if you want to become a Director of Nursing or CNO, you may want to consider an MSN with an emphasis in leadership and management. If you’ve always wanted to work in the OR as a nurse anesthetist, you’ll 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 certified nurse midwife, clinical nurse practitioner, or work in public health.
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Many nurses at the MSN level are interested in becoming nurse practitioners (NP). Future NPs often enroll in MSN programs that focus on preparing graduates to work as NPs within a particular medical specialty, which can include anything from mental health to orthopedics to primary care.
The nursing profession needs highly educated nurses to continue to push the profession forward and educate 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 OR, as a nurse-educator in the classroom, as a nurse in the boardroom or as a researcher in a laboratory, the key is to identify your strengths, interests. and goals and pursue the degree that will help you get there.
With a wide range of nursing titles and the expected shortage of nurses, chances are you will find a nurse in demand that you like. Start brainstorming with our article, “The Top 25 Types of Nurses Employers Are Looking to Hire.”
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Completion time depends on the number of transfer credits accepted and the number of courses completed each term.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Promoting Health [accessed January 2020] http://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/Reports/2010/ The-Future-of – Nursing-Leadership-Change-Advancing-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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