Nursing Degree & Career Guide
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What Is Nursing?
Nursing involves caring for patients to make sure their needs are met. They monitor vitals, take blood, deliver meals, help patients bathe, check wounds, and more. Nurses use their own judgment to help provide for their patients’ physical, biological, and behavioral needs. These professionals may work in settings such as hospitals, medical offices, nursing homes, and schools.
There are many nursing specialties, including burn care nurses, certified nurse midwives, diabetes nurses, and geriatric nurses. Since it involves caring for others, nursing can be a very fulfilling occupation.
Depending on what position you want, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to several years to get through nursing school. It only takes 4-12 weeks to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA) or 6-12 months to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN). To become a registered nurse (RN), you’ll need at least an associate degree in nursing (ADN), but having a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) may help you get a better job. If you are already a registered nurse but don’t have your bachelor’s degree, you may qualify for an RN to BSN program.
Some nurses continue their education to earn a master’s degree in nursing in order to go into nursing administration or become nurse practitioners. Others go even further and earn a doctor of nursing practice (DNP), which is the terminal degree
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Frequently Asked Questions About Nursing
How do I become a nurse?
You become a nurse by going to nursing school. You can complete a CNA or LPN program or pursue a nursing degree. If you want to become an RN, the minimum required degree for nursing is an ADN. Many registered nurses have bachelor's degrees, however. The program you complete to earn your nursing degree will require many hours of clinical training and classroom study.
If you want to become a nurse practitioner, you'll need to have at least a master's degree. MSN degrees often have specialties and prepare students for a specific career within the nursing field. For example, the family nurse practitioner specialty prepares nurses to become family nurse practitioners.
How long is nursing school?
It takes 4-12 weeks to complete a CNA program and 6-12 months to complete an LPN program. Nurse's degrees take quite a bit longer. You can expect to take two years to earn an ADN or four years to earn a bachelor's degree in nursing. An RN-to-BSN program typically takes about two years to complete.
An MSN program can take anywhere from 18 months to three years to complete. Many MSN programs are in specialties that prepare students to become nurse practitioners. A DNP program typically takes 1-2 years, assuming you already have a master's degree.
What is the most common nursing degree?
Approximately 56% of registered nurses have a bachelor's degree in nursing, making it likely to be the most common nursing degree. Many employers prefer RNs with a bachelor's degree, and some even require a bachelor's degree. For example, the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force require a bachelor's degree to serve as an active duty registered nurse.
Since so many RNs have bachelor's degrees, it makes sense to pursue a bachelor's degree if you want to become a registered nurse. You may be at a disadvantage when job hunting if you only have an ADN.
What are the different levels of nursing?
The first level of nursing is the CNA. Certified nursing assistants can be hired after completing just 4-12 weeks of training. The next level is the LPN. LPNs need about 6-12 weeks of training. They do not need a college degree. They cannot become registered nurses without additional training.
Registered nurses must have at least an ADN, but most have a bachelor's degree. In addition to earning a degree, they must pass the NCLEX-RN exam. RNs who earn a master's degree in the appropriate specialty and pass a test can become nurse practitioners. Nurses at the highest level have DNPs.
What is the highest-paid nurse?
With median salaries of $195,610 per year as of May 2021, the highest-paid nurses /a>are nurse anesthetists. Nurse anesthetists need to have at least a master's degree. However, in 2025 nurse anesthetists will need a DNP.
Other highly paid nurses include neonatal nurse practitioners ($109,320), cardiac nurse practitioners ($100,760), orthopedic nurse practitioners ($100,040), oncology nurse practitioners ($101,280), and general nurse practitioners ($100,250).
What type of nurse is most in demand?
According to Herzing University, the most in-demand nurses are LPNs, RNs, travel nurses, medical-surgical nurses, and emergency room nurses. Oncology nurses, nurse informatics specialists, nurse managers, nurse educators, and nurse anesthetists are also in demand.
Many nurses start as LPNs and then go back to school later to become registered nurses. Becoming an LPN is a good way to determine whether nursing is the right career for you without making a big commitment. You can become an LPN in just 6-12 months. If it works out, you can go back to school to get your ADN or BSN and become a registered nurse.