Guidelines For Nursing Certificate & Degree Programs

Nursing is one of the most respected working fields, and more and more people want to have a career in nursing today. It can bring practitioners strong personal satisfaction and also be highly rewarding. What’s more, the great demand for nurses is rising, thanks to the rapid development of health and medical care. The reports of the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the demand for all jobs in the nursing field will skyrocket 16% by 2024. This means nursing will still remain a strong employment trend for many future years. You don’t need to worry about finding a job once you finish your nursing degree.

There are many types of nurses; different professional nurses require different nursing degrees. So it’s important for you to determine which nurse you want to be in the future. Here are some guidelines for the main types of nursing certificates and degrees, helping you to identify which educational path can lead the way to achieve your nursing career.

  1. Certified nursing assistant certificate or diploma

A certified nursing assistant, or CNA, works under the Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), assisting patients with basic daily activities. This includes dressing, eating, bathing, and other health care needs.

Median annual salary (2018): $28,530

Time commitment: Most CNA programs usually complete in 4-12 weeks, including a minimum of 75 hours of instructional education and 16 hours of supervised on-the-job training.

  1. Licensed practical nurse certificate or diploma

A licensed practical nurse, or LPN, is also known as a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) in some states of the United States. They typically are responsible for types of basic patient care like administering medications, measuring patients’ vital signs, and changing dressings.

Median annual salary (2018): $47,050

Time commitment: An LPN degree typically completes in 12 months, including clinical training hours. After the program, graduates need to pass the NCLEX-PN to become a licensed practical nurse.

  1. Registered nurse (RN) with ADN or BSN degree

A registered nurse, or RN, often works with doctors and other team members of health care to provide the best treatment plan for patients and are responsible for other coordinated patient care, including recording patient medical history, conducting medical tests, monitoring symptoms, and administering medicine. If you want to become an RN, you must first earn a nursing diploma or degree, an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN), or a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN). Also, you need to pass a national licensing examination such as the NCLEX-RN.

Median annual salary (2018): $71,730

Time commitment: An RN with a BSN has more job opportunities compared to an RN with an ADN. Many people choose to take two years to complete an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) and then enroll in an RN to BSN degree program, which can be completed in as few as 12 to 18 months. In addition to this, you can take about 33 months to earn a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN). Both paths can make you reach the degree requirements, and after that, you can pass the NCLEX-RN to become an RN. If you want to take your career to the next level, an RN also can earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. With an MSN, you can receive high-level jobs and positions. This is suited for people who want to excel in nursing administration.

  1. Advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) with MSN degree

An advanced practice registered nurse, or APRN, is a registered nurse who earned a master’s degree or above and has advanced clinical practice. Candidates are required to have an RN license first. APRNs play a pivotal role in patient care and group managing. They can collaborate with doctors or directly with clients and patients. Some work independently as well. They can perform all the duties of an RN and do more subdivided and specialized care.

There are four types of APRN: Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), Certified Nurse Practitioner (CNP), Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS), and Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM).

Median annual salary (2018): $113,930

Time commitment: It takes a great deal of time and resources to complete an APRN program. You need to become an RN with a master’s degree first, and it also requires relevant work experience and certification in a specialty. Then according to which ARPN type you want to be, you can get a specific APRN license or certification from the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board, National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists, American Midwifery Certification Board Organizations, and so on.

Hope these guidelines can give you a deeper understanding of the types of nursing certificates and nursing degrees so that you can have an idea of which path you’d like to pursue.

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