There is a growing need for nurses and healthcare professionals in America because a large chunk of the American population is growing older and living longer. It has created a demand for nurses and healthcare workers. Nursing is not an easy profession as it requires a tremendous amount of patience, compassion, and specific skills to handle different kinds of patients and their needs.
To become a registered nurse, you can start with a diploma, LPN, or an associate’s degree which normally take two to three years to complete. For these, you will need to complete the NCLEX exam. A bachelor’s degree is at least four years long. Once you acquire a bachelor’s degree and if you want to move up the ladder, that is earn better and hold higher positions in nursing, you can get a MSN or DNP degree. A bridge program can help you work toward your BSN and MSN simultaneously.
Higher positions in nursing could include nurse midwives and nurse anesthetics. Essentially, you will get to do some of the work done by qualified physicians though your pay may not be on par with that of a qualified physician. However, the pay for an advanced practice nurse would be higher than that of a nursing assistant.
Following the NCLEX exam, you can take up a Diploma in Nursing, Associate’s Degree in Nursing, or a Licensed Practice Nurse program. All these programs are usually less than two years long and they will prepare you for entry-level positions in nursing and get your nursing career started. Another non-degree diploma option is a Certified Nursing Assistant Program (CNA) which is usually 75 hours long and includes clinical training. With a CNA, you can work under a LPN or RN.
With a bachelor’s degree in nursing, you will be qualified to take on better paying nursing roles. A BSN program includes clinical training. Depending on where you are in your career, you can choose from BSN degrees such as Bachelor of Science in Nursing, LPN to BSN, and RN to BSN. Specializations are available too and these include acute care, pediatrics, geriatric care, and psychiatry.
If you want to be a Nurse Practitioner (NP), you will need to get a master’s degree in nursing. Many of the MSN programs offer specializations such as oncology or pediatrics which will help you develop expertise in a specific area of nursing which translates to higher pay and demand. With an MSN degree, you can work with clinical practices, teach, be a part of the administrative staff, and even get work through an agency. Master’s degrees in nursing that you could explore are Direct Entry MSN, RN to MSN, MSN Nurse Practitioner, MSN Clinical Nurse Specialist, MSN Clinical Nurse Leader, MSN Certified Nurse Midwife, and MSN Certified Nurse Anesthetists.
Advanced practice nurses are expected to hold a DNP degree. Though it is not mandatory at present, it may be made a requirement. A doctorate degree would be ideal if you are interested in teaching or if you would like to work in the field of research. You can work on obtaining a doctorate degree following your master’s degree or you would join an accelerated program such as BSN-DNP which will help you acquire both MSN and DNP in a single program. Alternatively, you can finish your MSN and then take up DNP in order to specialize in a specific area of interest.
There is a great demand for nursing professionals in America and it is expected to grow. If you are interested in nursing, there are many flexible programs that you can take up in order to begin your career in nursing and to grow in your profession.