The Different Types of Nursing Degrees

When you decide that becoming a nurse is the right career path for you, it is important to understand what type of nurse you want to be, and subsequently what type of degree you should obtain. Each degree varies in length and offers nurses varying levels of responsibility and salary.

At the entry level, students can become Certified Nurses Assistants (CNAs) by attending only a few short weeks of study. CNAs do not earn a degree, but rather a certificate in nursing. Subsequently, CNAs have limited responsibility and patient interaction. They are considered nurses’ aides and receive tasks directly from superior nurses that can include: feeding, dressing, bathing, checking the vitals of patients and other non-invasive procedures.

Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs) are the next level of nurses. These degrees are typically offered at community colleges and generally take one year to complete. Their duties are more responsible, are also assigned by superior nurses and include all of the duties of CNAs. They also are responsible for administering medications and injections, starting IVs, assisting in the delivery room and performing CPR.

Registered Nurses (RNs) are superior to LVNs, LPNs, and CNAs. The RN can execute all of their duties, as well as taking orders directly from physicians, assisting in the operating room, assisting in patient care plans, operate medical equipment and signing off on other nurses’ work. Healthcare facilities differ on their education preferences for RNs. The minimum requirement for an RN is to receive an Associate Degree in Nursing, which is usually a two year program. Many hospitals require their RNs to possess a four year degree called a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. This degree can also prepare students for graduate course work.

An Advanced Practical Registered Nurse (APRN) is even more specialized than an RN and requires more schooling. APRNs specialize in advanced nursing care and can become Certified Nurse Specialists (CNS), Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) and Nurse Practitioners (NP) to name a few. Most of these programs require a minimum of a four year degree and some post graduate work, while others require a master’s level degree.

All of these degree programs or certifications offer students in search of a nursing career a wide range of choices. With careful research and consideration, every student should be able to discern which path is the best for them.

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