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Last Updated: January 16, 2021

Nursing degree

Why nursing?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the nurse's job market will continue to grow at nearly 20%, much faster than the vast majority of other professions. The median salary for a nurse is around $70,000 a year. A comfortable salary and decent job outlook are drawing more and more people to the nursing field.

It requires an entire staff of experts to tend to the nation's medical care requirements, and nurses will be the crucial link that keeps the medical care system operating carefully. They offer to act as liaisons between clients and doctors and, in some instances, also complete physicians' duties. Nonetheless, there are various kinds of nurses, and their particular career paths suggest just what education they have obtained, what they specialize in, and the location they will be working in.

Types of Nursing Degrees - Nursing Diploma, ADN, BSN, MSN, DNP

Nursing DegreeDurationJob duties/Training/Career
Nursing Diploma1 yearTalking to patients and recording the signs and symptoms. Assisting RN and LPN
Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)2 yearsSame duties as nurses with Nursing Diploma but they can become BSN faster
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)4 years unless the candidate has a previous related qualificationCan take NCLEX-RN test to become an RN
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)2-3 years depending upon the previous experienceRange of opportunities
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)4-6 yearsRange of career options in nursing management

Nursing Diploma

The nursing degree that requires the least amount of education is the Nursing diploma. It is an undergraduate program provided by hospitals or vocational centers to teach the students the everyday duties of a nurse. The duration of a Nursing diploma course is one year which is the shortest nursing course out there. If the course is affiliated with a University, however, the student can receive college credit for future education which comes in handy while pursuing ADN or BSN degree later on.

ADN - Associate Degree in Nursing

ADN is an undergraduate program as well provided by community colleges to teach students everyday tasks of a nurse. It is a two year program and is a popular way to enter the nursing profession. ADN is a college degree. Many ADNs go back to earn their BSN. Many Universities provide Accelerated BSN course for ADNs which is similar to BSN but has a duration of as less as 12 months, compared to 48 - 60 months needed for a regular BSN course. The course is usually specialty specific giving in-depth knowledge of a particular field, for example, maternal care, behavioral health.

Top colleges providing ADN

BSN - Bachelor of Science in Nursing

BSN requires four years of tertiary education, although it can be completed much sooner if the student has prior ADN or Nursing diploma. BSN is specialty focused. The University might require the student to undertake some prior courses before enrolling in BSN. It all depends upon the University and the specialty being chosen.

Top colleges providing BSN These are competitive schools in general, so students must have high standardized test scores and high GPAs to be admitted. Johns Hopkins, University of California and University of Pennsylvania in particular only admit about 10-15% of all applicants. It is not uncommon for students to have a GPA of over 4.0 and near-perfect SAT scores.

MSN - Master of Science in Nursing

MSN is an advanced nursing degree in a chosen specialty. It is a specialized degree with technical skills to focus on a specific area of health. Possible career paths include nurse anesthetist, nursing administrator, nurse-midwife, or nurse practitioner. This advanced knowledge related to a particular specialty combined with the previous nursing experience puts the nurse above all levels. Interestingly, MSN degree can be obtained regardless of which previous degree you hold. An MSN can be acquired in one of the following ways:

Direct Entry MSN: If the student does not have any prior background whatsoever, they can still obtain an MSN, provided they have a graduate degree in any field. This program takes anywhere from 24 to 36 months.

ADN-to-MSN: If the student already holds an ADN, they can sign up for this course that takes three to five years to complete the course.

BSN-to-MSN: After earning a BSN, nurses have the option of completing MSN. Most of these programs are two years long if nurses choose to complete them full-time. However, most continue to work while earning the degree.

Top colleges providing MSN

The best schools to receive your MSN are the same schools to receive your BSN. These schools are: Some of these programs offer degrees to students changing from a different field. For instance, Johns Hopkins has programs designed solely for students with an undergraduate degree in a major other than nursing. For the most part, though, applicants need to be a licensed nurse with a bachelor's of science in nursing. GPA need to be above 3.0. Some require GRE, but many do not. An online application and letters of recommendation are also usually necessary.

DNP - Doctor of Nursing Practice - An advance course in nursing

Nurses may also choose to receive DNP which is a four to six year commitment. DNP is very specialty focused since the student will be required to write a dissertation based on the research topic chosen. Current RN license is a must in most Universities. DNP provides the academic knowledge as well as the practical knowledge of nursing. Nurses who complete DNP can have careers in Nursing administration/management. Whether the student holds MSN or ADN, there is a path that they can take to expedite their journey towards being a DNP.

Top colleges providing DNP

What are the available Nurse Licenses?

There are various nursing licenses based upon the type of training and examination taken.
Nursing LicenseJob Profile
Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)Basic non-clinical duties like making sure patients are comfortable etc.
Requirements: High school diploma or GED
Must complete state approved education program
Certificate: CNA Certification
Licensed Practical Nurses/Licensed Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN)Administering injections, inserting catheter, collecting samples, administering IV etc.
Requirements: High school diploma or GED
Certificate: (NCLEX-PN)
Registered Nurse (RN)
People generally associate the term "Nurse" with them.
Assist and work with the physicians and surgeons
Requirements: Degrees like BSN and MSN
Certificate: (NCLEX-RN)

CNA - Certified Nursing Assistant

As the name suggests, CNA assist an LPN or an RN in their daily tasks. This license requires minimal amount of training. No degree is needed to pursue CNA training but a high school diploma or GED along with nursing assistant training is a must. CNA credentials are issued by state so it's important to check if the program being chosen is state approved. After the CNA training program is complete, the candidate has to take the CNA certification exam which is divided into two parts - written and practical part. The written test is a 90 minute test while the practical test is 30 minutes long.

National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN)

This license, provided by NCLEX is for aspirants looking to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN). The exam is five hours long with short breaks in between. The number of questions in the exam depend upon the answers given by the candidate. They questions relating to a single scenario may keep popping up till the system is aware of the competency of the candidate. That said, the number of questions in the exam can be anywhere from 75 questions to over 200 questions. There are also 15 trial questions included in the 75 questions that don't count towards the score but they are imbedded in the exam, hence unable to identify. Job duties of an LPN include assisting RNs and following their directions like administering a medicine to a patient or taking vitals.

There is always some confusion between these two terms and the similarity and difference between them. Truthfully, they are exactly the same. The title LVN used in the states of Texas and California while the title LPN is used in the other states. Both the licenses require the candidate to pass the same test - NCLEX-PN and the duties and salary are exactly the same.

National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)

This license, also provided by NCLEX, is for nursing candidates looking to become a Registered Nurse. The NCLEX exam for RN has the same course as PN. While RN focuses on decision making skills in a situation, PN focuses on following the directions of an RN and being able to successfully assist them. The exam duration is six hours with short breaks in between and the number of questions in the exam vary, just like in NCLEX-PN exam.

How to become a Nurse Practitioner?

A Nurse Practitioner or NP is an advanced level nurse. Nurse Practitioner can diagnose and check patients, mostly in office setting. They can refer a patient to a specialist. The scope of duties of an NP depends on the state NP is working in since the NP license is state dependent. In a few states, a nurse practitioner can work independently, while in others they need to work under a doctor in order to refer a patient.

To become a Nurse Practitioner, the RN has to have a graduate or Associate degree and work towards earning an MSN or DNP. There are many ways to fast-track this process with many institutions providing online accelerated courses. Once that is done, a Nurse Practitioner license has to be earned. The NP license is offered by individual states and they have different rules and requirements.

Is nursing a good career?

First and foremost, nursing is a very rewarding career if one has patience and caring attitude. A nurse will bring care, comfort and happiness into people’s lives - caring for them in many ways. Overall, most nurses report a high level of job satisfaction. It is a career filled with opportunities and challenges.

The salary of a nurse varies by the state and the number of years of experience he/she has. The US Bureau of Labor Statics (BLS) reported that a nurse earns anywhere from $50,000 to $111,000 in a year with the median salary being $70,000. These numbers are based on the statistics from 2019. Although rewarding, a career in nursing requires a lot of hard-work and time. Nursing would always be high in demand because of the growing population and ever-increasing demand for health care professionals.

Facts about Nursing:

While we discussed right in the beginning how rewarding nursing school really is, there is also a cautionary tale. You need to be ready for the commitment.

Nursing degree courses