The healthcare field is expanding, and skilled nurses are in high demand. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of nursing schools out there that award nursing degrees at all levels. If you have the ability to tackle several tasks at once, have strong science and math skills, are detail-oriented, and possess a strong desire to help people, a nursing program may open the door to a fulfilling career.
Pursuing a nursing degree means making choices, whether you’re looking to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN), registered nurse (RN) or advanced practice nurse. Today’s LPNs are skilled caregivers who provide a range of services for patients on stable care paths, while RNs care for those whose conditions place them at greater risk. Advanced practice nurses, who receive advanced training in specialized areas, diagnose and treat illnesses. Most of them are also certified to prescribe medication. Types of advanced practice nurses include nurse-midwives, clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, and nurse practitioners.
Nursing Degree Specialties
When choosing a nursing college, determine which specialty you’d like to pursue. If you enjoy working with children and families, pediatric nursing may be right for you. If you prefer to be on the front lines of nursing care, you may choose an emergency or critical care nursing program. Other specialty areas you can choose from include OB/GYN nursing, geriatric nursing, psychiatric nursing, and nursing informatics.
Types of Nursing Programs Available
There are three educational paths that lead to a career in registered nursing: a four-year bachelor’s degree, two-year associate’s degree, and diploma from an approved nursing program. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program requires students to take nursing classes in nursing history, nursing theory, organization, and leadership roles. Many RN management positions command candidates to have at least a BSN degree, and upon completion of your degree program, you must sit for a licensing exam, which will vary by state.
A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree requires you to take nursing courses that focus on an advanced nursing specialty. MSN degree holders who become Advance Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) often perform duties that were once reserved for physicians. MSN degree holders can also go on to become managers, nurse educators, healthy policy experts or clinical nurse leaders. They are qualified to assume key training and managerial roles.
A doctorate degree or PhD in nursing focuses on the clinical aspects of nursing. Its curriculum typically emphasizes advanced practice, leadership, and the application of clinical research. A doctoral degree enables you to join the ranks of some of the most highly respected nurse educators in the world.
Why Get Nursing Training?
Overall, job opportunities for nurses are expected to be excellent. Employment for registered nurses is projected to increase by 22% through 2018, making nursing one of the top 20 fastest growing occupations according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The majority of nurses work in hospitals, but some nurses also work in doctor’s offices and clinics or travel to homes, schools, and community centers. The median annual wage of nurses was $62,450 in May 2008. Many employers offer additional benefits to nurses, including tuition reimbursement, bonuses, and childcare. Nurses who possess advanced nursing degrees can expect to earn higher salaries, commensurate with experience.
Now is the time to explore your educational and career options in nursing. There are many nursing degree programs to choose from, both at brick-and-mortar schools and online. Don’t delay. Take steps towards launching a fulfilling career as a nurse by finding the right nursing school today.