If you are interested in furthering your education and pursuing a different career path, it may be beneficial to investigate the benefits of acquiring a nursing degree. Nurse jobs typically have high-paying salaries and benefits including sizeable amounts of paid time off and great insurance plans.
You can even obtain a nursing degree online from an accredited school or program, making it easy for students who need a flexible schedule.
Online education is an excellent option for adults with a busy life, but standard or hybrid education programs are also a valid option for anyone interesting in a nursing career.
Types of Nursing Careers
There are a few different types of qualifications that can be earned in order to become a registered nurse. Each option requires different amounts of schooling, and provides different opportunities in the nursing field. A licensed practical nurse (LPN) and licensed vocational nurse (LVN) is a popular option, as it offers a shorter path to practicing in the health sciences fields through a certification. Registered nurses (RNs) have different educational requirements than LPNs and LVNs, as the education levels can range from diplomas to four-year degrees.
Nursing careers also include clinical nurse specialists, advanced practice nurses, nurse practitioners and nurse case managers. These types of careers typically involve higher education, such as a bachelor’s degree and beyond, and a few years of work experience in the nursing field. These are more time-consuming and can cost a lot of money, which can be a problem for anyone interested in a health sciences career. Some people can use positions like an LPN as a stepping-stone to different levels of nursing, although it is not necessary.
It is important to note that each degree option only provides pre-licensure, and each student must take and pass the exams administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing’s examination after earning the degree to be a nurse. This exam is called the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). There are different types of exams for different types of nurses.
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)
After completing a one-year nursing program, students can earn the LPN (or LVN) certificate. The certification or educational program must meet state requirements, and many community colleges and technical schools offer such programs. LPNs and LVNs are essentially the same position, and the name difference is by state. Although some tasks may differ between LPNs and LVNs, they follow that same path. Before signing up for either program, students should examine state requirements for these types for nursing positions. The tasks that these types of nurses can perform will also vary by state. This certification allows these nurses to provide care to patients under the supervision of a higher-level medical professional such as a registered nurse. Although the LPN certificate is often the easiest and fastest to obtain, it does not provide the same amount of opportunities for career advancement or the same salary level as the other nursing degree options available. LPNs and LVNs have the potential to advance their careers by taking on a supervisor role or by completing an education program to become a Registered nurse (RN).
LPN roles can require patient observation, medication administration, bathing of a patient, insertion of catheters and other basic tasks. Depending on the state, LPNs and LVNs may not be able to perform certain tasks, and these types of nurses may need supervision from a registered nurse. As with all nursing careers, the types of tasks can vary by field and types of patients.
Like an LPN, a registered nurse (RN) offers patient care. However, RNs have more responsibilities and different types of training. RNs can evaluate the condition of a patient, create or collaborate on patient care plans, operate medical equipment and more. RNs can oversee LPNs and other types of nurses when necessary. Those interested in becoming an RN can take a few educational paths to continue in this career. Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN), a diploma from an accredited and approved nursing program or an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) are all valid education options for registered nurses.
Diploma in Nursing
After spending around two to three years in training programs in a medical setting, students can earn a diploma in nursing. This option provides a lot of hands-on training and it is generally less expensive than earning a bachelor’s or an associate degree, though it typically does not provide as many opportunities as the degree programs often do. This is a great place to begin your nursing career if you need to complete training over a longer period. Diploma programs are not as common as the other programs, so this may not be an option in your area.
Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
An associate degree in nursing typically takes two years to complete, and the programs are offered at an accredited college. While this degree is typically more expensive to obtain than a nursing diploma, it often leads to higher-paying jobs, so the money spent on the education can be earned back faster.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
In order to acquire a Bachelor of Science in nursing, a student typically must spend around 4 years taking nursing courses at an accredited college. Obtaining the four-year BSN allows for the most job opportunities and the highest-paying salaries as compared to the other degree options. This option takes the longest amount of time to complete, and is the most expensive, though the higher-paying opportunities can make this path worth it financially in the long term.
How to Earn a Nursing Degree
The first step in obtaining a nursing degree is to research the various degree options in order to make an educated decision about which option is best for you. After you have chosen which degree path you want to pursue, you must apply to the school/program and begin your education.
Each nursing degree requires certain training and/or schooling to be completed. Because each degree is different, they each have different requirements. For example, a diploma in nursing must be obtained through specific nursing diploma programs offered at certain medical institutions. The associate and bachelor’s degrees you must complete at a college or university that has an accredited nursing program. However, the degrees can be completed either in-person or through online courses, depending on the school.
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing Exam
After you complete the education portion and a certificate, diploma or degree has been earned in the nursing field, the student is ready to take the National Council of State Boards of Nursing’s NCLEX examination. The NCLEX is required in order to become an actual registered nurse and begin providing care to patients. This exam is offered only four times a year, typically January, April, July and October, and is only offered at special qualified locations. You will pay an examination fee at the time of the testing.
The NCLEX exam is designed to test the applicants on their knowledge, abilities and skills relating to the safe practice of nursing. In order to do this, the exam utilizes software called the Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT) tool to evaluate the test-takers. This tool evaluates each student differently based on each of his or her answers, and the amount of time taken to answer each question. Because of this, the exact difficulty level and number of questions varies with each candidate. It is very important that each candidate studies before taking the exam in order to ensure a passing score. However, individuals that do not pass the exam the first time will receive the opportunity to retake the test.
Benefits of a Nursing Degree
Just as it very important to consider the financial investment required for each type of degree, it is also important that each candidate understands that there are more expenses than just tuition involved as well. These costs may include textbooks, testing fees and supplies including scrubs. The expenses required for earning a nursing degree can be alleviated with various types of education assistance including grants or scholarships. It is crucial that anyone interested in starting a nursing program investigates the different types of financial assistance beforehand.
A nursing degree can be very fulfilling as it provides the opportunity to help other people and earn a high-paying salary. In addition, it is speculated that the number of nursing jobs is going to rise substantially over the next few years. This means that once a student becomes a registered nurse, he or she will not likely face much difficulty in finding and securing a job. In addition, being a nurse provides many benefits including substantial time off in the form of vacation and sick days, a generally flexible schedule, and the ability to enroll in various types of insurance coverage. With the different types of medical needs, nurses can practice in different fields and find their true passion.