Nursing Programs

If you're considering becoming a nurse, you have many different options that can lead to a great start in that career. It all depends on what kind of nurse you want to be and how much education you want to get.

Certified nurse assistants (CNA) are entry level nurses. While becoming a CNA can allow you to start your nursing career faster than other options, unless you decide to get more education, your future job prospects may be limited. This is because most jobs with higher pay and responsibility look for candidates who are registered nurses. To become a CNA, you can attend a six- to twelve-week program at a technical school and then take, and pass, an exam at the end of the program. Some hospitals and other healthcare facilities also offer CNA programs.

Or you can choose to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN), which can also get you started in your career quickly, after a year of study. You can register for an LPN program at a community college, technical college, or through a hospital. In this training, you'll receive a lot of hands on training with patients, and some classroom education. Some nurses choose to receive their LPNs and then go on to earn their bachelor degrees while working. There are some hospitals that will pay for your education or reimburse you, if you agree to work for them for the required number of years after earning your degree. LPNs also need to take and pass the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX-PN).

Nursing Programs

The program most students choose is the registered nurse (RN) program. Registered nurses have more career choices; can specialize in certain practice areas; and can become supervisors, managers, or other positions of responsibility. While not all students choose to earn a bachelors degree to become an RN, if you're considering attending graduate school in the future, it makes sense to get one. You can become a registered nurse by obtaining an associates degree (a two-year program at a community or technical college) and then taking and passing the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX-RN). Or, as already mentioned, if you're looking for broader career options, you should pursue a bachelors degree in science or nursing, and then take the NCLEX-RN.

Once you've earned your BS (Bachelor of Science) degree and have worked for a year or two as an RN, you can become an advanced practice nurse by working toward a masters degree in nursing at an accredited university. There are four types of advanced practice nurses: clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners. In most states these nurses can assess, examine, diagnose, and treat patients, and also prescribe medications, under the supervision of a doctor. You'll also need to become licensed in one of these four areas of specialization.

Last Updated: 05/19/2014

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