Which is the right nursing degree for you?

The nursing profession has different credentials which show up as different degrees or educational attainment in nursing. A brief explanation may be in order.

  • CNA, Certified Nursing Assistant: After about 16 weeks in school the student will be accredited to do the “dirty work.” A CAN works under LPNs and RNs and usually assists patients with their day to day needs.

  • LPN, Licensed Practical Nurse: A licensed practical nurse license is offered, it is not a degree course. It takes about two years to finish the course; it allows people to get into employment earlier. Many people start with their LPN licensee and then bridge to getting their RN or BSN as time goes by. The main difference between a LPN and an RN is the scope of practice; the RN is tasked with doing far more than an LPN. Many LPNs work in nursing homes and rehab centers.

  • RN: Registered nurse: The RN is the bedrock of the nursing profession, when you see a nurse in a hospital setting; odds are it is an RN. The RNs scope of practice is wider than that of an LPN, they make judgment calls based on their assessment of the patient and their own critical thinking. An RN can handle riskier situations such as administering medications and working with the critical ill.

  • BSN: Bachelor of Science in Nursing: This course is typically four to five years. A BSN can take on more management responsibilities and most specialty nursing situations demands a holder of a BSN. In many hospitals there is a trend toward requiring RNs to get their BSN degrees within a certain period of time.

LPN-BSN: When one is a licensed practical nurse there are courses available which bridge from it to an RN, the program is called LPN-BSN. This program is an effective way to advance your career, going from LPN to RN. You not only become an RN with all of the constituent benefits, you have the advantage of a degree rather than simply a license. The prerequisites to getting into a LPN-BSN program are:

  • A valid LPN license to practice

  • Currently employed in a hospital or other nursing facility

  • At least 75 hours of direct training with an RN

If these hurdles can be cleared, there are many colleges that offer the bridging program.

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