Search for nursing schools and programs in your state:

A master of science in nursing (MSN) is the best degree option for professional nurses looking to advance their careers. While a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) can lead to advancement opportunities as well, an MSN or higher is highly desired by hospitals, universities, and other medical facilities seeking skilled administrators, educators, and managers. Most MSN programs require 18-24 months to complete.

Some aspiring nurses prefer the fast track to a career in nursing, so they might choose an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) program to get started within 2-3 years. After several years in the field, however, many ADN holders are ready to seek a higher-level position or other advancement opportunities. Many of these opportunities require no less than a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree. In fact, most major hospitals now require a BSN or higher because they feel it ensures that nurses are well trained and prepared for advancement.

While an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) can prepare you for an entry-level nursing position, a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) is fast becoming the minimum requirement for positions at major hospitals, mental health facilities, and physicians’ offices. In fact, because BSN degree programs feature in-depth coursework and more clinical experience, they offer better preparation for high-level positions such as critical care nurse, occupational health nurse, psychiatric nurse, and nurse manager.

One of the fastest routes to becoming a registered nurse (RN) is an associate’s degree. Depending on the school, associate’s degree options may include an associate of science or associate of art degree in nursing (ADN), an associate of applied science (AAS), or an associate's degree in licensed vocational nursing (LVN). With the exception of the LVN program, each program takes 2-3 years to complete and prepares graduates to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

Registered nurses (RNs) treat patients; perform diagnostic tests and analyze results; administer various types of treatment and medications; operate medical equipment; start, maintain, and discontinue intravenous (IV) lines; establish care plans; and educate patients and the public about various medical conditions. Some RNs may even run health screening and immunization clinics, blood drives, or public seminars on conditions. In order to gain entry into this demanding career field, all states require education, training, and licensure to become an RN.

Licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) care for the sick, injured, convalescent, or disabled under the supervision of registered nurses, surgeons, and physicians. They measure and record vital signs, dress wounds, prepare and give injections, monitor catheters, give alcohol rubs and massages, collect samples for testing, and clean and monitor medical equipment. LVNs gather information from patients for physicians and insurance purposes, they teach family members how to care for patients, and some even help deliver, care for, and feed infants.

Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) provide hands-on care and perform routine tasks under the supervision of nursing and other medical staff. CNAs clean and bathe patients; assist patients with dressing and using the restroom; position patients in beds, chairs or wheelchairs; serve meals and assist the patient with eating; and check the patient’s vital signs. Depending on the level of training and the state, some nursing assistants administer medication. In the state of California this is permitted, but it must be done under the direct supervision of a physician.

In 2014, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) reported a nationwide nursing shortage, particularly in the registered nursing field. Registered nursing, along with licensed practical nursing and nursing assistant, are just a few of the nursing fields for which a student can earn certification or obtain a degree. Given the AACN’s findings, nursing students of any program can rest assured of finding relevant and rewarding work quickly.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing is ranked among the top ten occupations in terms of job growth; when it comes to the most trusted professions, nursing is in the top five. Even more, it offers a wide variety of specialties, including work in schools, hospitals, medical clinics, home care, and more. With popularity, however, comes competition. To stay ahead, education is vital, since the type of education you pursue is a determining factor for getting an industry job.

Subscribe to Front page feed