About nursing in the US
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), by the year 2018 there will be tens of thousands of new nurse job openings, and the demand for registered nurses will exceed one million. Students and working professionals who earn a degree in nursing, or received advanced training in the field, will be prepared to take advantage of tremendous career advancement and job opportunities.
In order to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) also known as licensed vocational nurse (LVN), students should earn a nursing degree or certificate from an accredited nursing program or school. To launch a career as a Registered Nurse (RN), students can earn an associate's degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor's of science in nursing (BSN).
While an associate's degree is sufficient for becoming a registered nurse, more and more students are opting to earn a bachelor's degree in nursing, as it provides greater job opportunities, career mobility and education opportunities than an associate degree.
Most students who pursue a certificate in nursing do so because its the easiest and quickest path to becoming a nurse. It only takes about one year to earn a certificate in licensed practical nursing. Nursing certificates are offered at community colleges, 4-year colleges and by select hospitals via on-the-job training programs. After graduating from a certificate program and passing a licensing exam, students will be able to provide direct patient care and assist RNs and doctors in their patient care duties.
An Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is probably the most popular path to a career in nursing. Earning an ADN is the quickest way to qualify to become a registered nurse (RN). An ADN can be completed in just two to three years. Typical coursework in and ADN program will include science, math, anatomy, microbiology, pediatric nursing and geriatric nursing. An ADN program requires that students spend substantially more time in a classroom than a certificate program. Associate degrees in nursing are offered at community colleges, technical schools, and four-year higher education institutions.
While earning a certificate or associate degree is a viable path to becoming a nurse, earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides students with much greater job options upon graduation and career advancement opportunities down the road. A BSN degree requires about four years of study and is offered at four-year colleges and universities across the United States. Upon graduation, students will be prepared to pursue RN licensure and qualified to work in a large variety of medical settings. They'll also meet the prerequisites to earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD).
The BSN is also the degree of choice among employers seeking to fill entry-level positions.
There are literally thousands of schools that provide nursing programs. However, you'll want to make sure that you earn your degree from a school that is accredited. Accreditation assures that a school meets a certain level of academic and professional standards. The two major accrediting agencies for nursing include the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
While there are many good programs not accredited by these organizations, the advantages of earning your degree from an accredited education institution include the ability to transfer your credits to another accredited school, ability to qualify for scholarships and financial aid, and increased employment opportunities--many employers want to hire nurses with degrees from accredited institutions. You're also better off earning degree from a school that is regionally accredited.
While the majority of nursing programs are campus-based, there are a growing number of schools that now offer Internet-based distance learning nursing degrees that can be completed entirely online. Online and distance learning nursing degrees are designed for working students and nurses who are unable to enroll in a full-time nursing program. Online nursing degrees provide students greater flexibility than traditional programs and can be completed from the comfort of a home or office.