Within the realm of nursing, there are many different academic paths you can pursue. Most jobs in nursing require an advanced education as well as specific licensure and/or certifications. If you are a current nursing student or new grad nursing student and are planning to apply for a job in this competitive field, your resume needs to reflect that you posses the required passion in addition to the knowledge and expertise synonymous with quality healthcare.
Technical/Vocational Nursing Licensure
One of the more basic licenses you can possess in the world of healthcare is a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) as they are referred to in the states of Texas and California. To become an LPN or LVN one must completed a specialized program, most often offered through local technical or vocational institutes. These programs are typically around 1 year in length and students will learn how to care for sick, injured, disabled, and convalescent patients while working closely with a team of physicians and registered nurses.
State-Level Nursing Licensure
Before beginning a career as a nurse, you must be licensed to practice in the state you plan to work in. Each state has different standards and regulations and offer different professional development for Advanced Practice Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs), and Registered Nurses (RNs). To become a licensed nurse, a candidate must first pass the NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN license examination. Consult your local state legislature for specific requirements by state.
Associate’s Degree in Nursing
An Associate’s Degree in Nursing is often a 2 or 3-year program offered at hospital nursing schools, universities, and junior/community colleges throughout the states. An A.S. program helps to prepare future nurses for a fast-paced medical career and students are frequently obliged to complete clinical rotations, internships, and/or preceptorships in order to acquire a degree. Hospital diplomas, offered through specialized nursing schools, teach students how to deliver direct patient care in a variety of environments and, like A.S. degrees, are a good stepping stone to advance your career in nursing.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing
A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is a 4-year program offered at many colleges and universities. It gives students a more broad education in the field of healthcare and presents graduates with more opportunities for advancement in the industry. From there, if one was so inclined, they could pursue a Master’s degree or any number of specialized nursing positions such as nurse practitioner, nurse researcher, public health nursing, forensic nursing, etc. Some universities also offer “Accelerated Programs” which allow students who already posses an advanced degree (in a field other than nursing) to take targeted courses and avoid educational redundancy when completing a nursing degree.
There are various Master’s degrees (MSN) or Graduate degrees available for nursing professionals and they are most often fairly specific in nature. For instance, there are nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse-midwives, nurse anesthetist, and nurse psychotherapists. All of these roles require an advanced understanding and education. Master’s programs address the needs of these specialized roles and prepare nursing professionals for positions in management, administration, community health, and other areas.
Amongst the doctoral degrees available to nursing professionals are the PhD, EdD, DNS, and DNP. These programs are designed to help students assume leadership roles in the industry and to teach at esteemed colleges and universities. Doctoral students will often conduct research and concentrated studies to help further healthcare practices and processes. Nurses with these sorts of degree are intimately involved as health executives, deans, professors, researchers, and senior policy analysts. There are even a few research-focused universities in the U.S. that offer post-doctoral programs in nursing.
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