Those who want to become a nurse must determine what kind of nursing degree is required for the nursing career path they want to take.
There are many different types of nurses, and it only follows that there are also many different types of nursing degrees that aspiring nurses can choose from. These nursing programs vary in length as well as in the level of responsibility and salary that graduates will be offered once they obtain employment.
LVN or LPN Programs
Licensed Vocational Nursing (LVN) or Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) programs usually take only one year to complete, and are the popular and convenient choice for those with personal or professional obligations who want to enter the nursing profession. Completion of the program makes students eligible for licensure once they pass the state-administered NCLEX-PN.
LPN to RN Bridge Programs
LPN to RN (ADN) bridge programs are intended for licensed practical nurses who want to advance to the next level in their career. These kinds of programs take into account the education and experience that students have obtained as an LPN. An ADN is a springboard for a bachelor’s degree for those who want to continue with nursing school. Many LPN to RN schools offer online hybrid programs which allow students to complete some of their coursework at their own pace and in their free time. However, students will still be required to complete their clinical practice at a pre-arranged medical facility.
Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
Associate Degree in Nursing programs are ideal for those who have not been working as a licensed practical nurse or licensed vocational nurse and are interested in becoming a registered nurse. ADN programs usually take two years to complete and are typically offered by community colleges and vocational schools.
LPN to BSN Bridge Programs
These types of programs take a student’s LPN work experience into consideration and will not entail the requisite 4 years of traditional BSN programs. Once a student has completed the bridge program, he or she will be eligible to work as an RN. These programs are rigorous; students who plan to work and study at the same time must consider their workload and make sure that they can manage both.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs take 4 years to complete and takes serious commitment and dedication. Candidates with a BSN degree are preferred by most employers, thus providing the best opportunities in the healthcare industry. Students can expect to spend an extensive amount of time and effort to their coursework and lab experiences, which is why many opt to study full-time. It is possible to take some classes online, but clinical experiences must be done at a local hospital or on campus. Those who are planning on pursuing a master’s degree must first earn a bachelor’s degree.
RN to BSN Bridge Programs
This bridge program is designed for practicing registered nurses who have completed an associate degree program or diploma program, and want to earn their BSN degree. This allows registered nurses to save time and money since they get credit for nursing skills they have already learned through their diploma or ADN program and/or work experience. RN to BSN programs takes about two years to complete, and in addition, provide a flexible schedule making it convenient for working nurses.
Second Degree BSN Programs
Second degree nursing programs are intended for non-nurses with non-nursing related baccalaureate degrees to obtain a BSN, and qualifies them to take the NCLEX-RN, the licensure examination for eligibility to become a registered nurse. These programs take only two years to complete as they build upon prior learning to provide a broad professional preparation for a career in nursing. Accelerated BSN programs are a variation of the second degree BSN and take between 12 and 20 months to complete.
Master of Science in Nursing
Those who wish to pursue higher learning and want to specialize in a particular area of nursing, such as in pediatric, acute care, geriatric or neonatal nursing, can take up an MSN. MSN programs usually only take between 18 and 24 months to complete; however, students can expect these programs to be incredibly rigorous and challenging, particularly if they are working nurses with a rigid schedule. Nurses with MSNs will have increased chances of expanding their career and earning higher salaries.
Doctoral Degree in Nursing Programs
These programs prepare nurses for advanced nursing jobs and nursing leadership roles. Students must be prepared to devote 4 to 6 years to successfully complete these programs. It’s important to note that the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree is a practice-focused doctorate, wherein graduates are prepared for clinical practice, administration and public policy roles, as well as the application of clinical research. On the other hand, the Doctor of Nursing Philosophy (PhD) is a research-based degree that prepares nurses for teaching and research positions.