Becoming a Nurse
When you work as a nurse, you are at the epicenter of the medical profession. Nurses work closely with both patients and physicians in all kinds of medical settings. Many nurses are generalist with a broad base of knowledge and others are very specialized in a specific and narrow field of the medical profession. Whatever you chose, nursing is one of the most trusted occupations in medicine. Patients rely on nurses as there conduit of information and for their compassionate care. A strong, dedicated nurse plays an important role in the medical delivery system.
The first step is to get some education and training. There are a number of ways to do this. Some programs can get you going in the profession in as little as one year while others lead to advanced degrees and specialty training.
Licensed Practical Nurse
Also known as LPN might be thought of as an entry level nursing position. Most LPN programs are about one year long and offered at technical and vocational schools. Licensed Practical Nurses usually work under the direct supervision of a Registered Nurse.
Associate Degree Programs
Also known as ADN is a two or sometimes three year program offered at Community Colleges.
Hospital Diploma Programs
There was a time when most hospitals trained and housed nursing students right on the Hospital grounds. This is less likely today but does still exist. In some cases, hospitals will team-up with Community Colleges to train nurses. This is typically a two or three year program and similar to an Associate Degree Program
Bachelor of Science Nursing
Also known as BS/BSN is a traditional four year program offered at most major universities. This program offers very broad and extensive education and training in nursing and prepares nurses for many different medical environments.
Accelerated Nursing Programs
These are available to those with a Bachelor’s Degree in a field other than nursing and in a shortened time frame. If you are switching careers or already have another type of degree in the medical field, this program may be for you.
Advanced Degrees in Nursing
A Master’s Degree and Doctoral Degree are available in nursing. These would qualify you for a career in management, an advanced specialty, research or teaching. Advanced degree programs usually require a Bachelors Degree or other degree with additional training time.
After education and training is complete, a nurse will become licensed as an Advanced Practice Nurse, Registered Nurse or Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurse. Licensing is administered at the state level and will vary from state to state.
Registered Nurses (RN’s) often an become certified in their specialties. In addition, continuing education is now being mandated in some states. Eventually, all states will probably require some level of continuing education.