Education Options for the Prospective Nurse

Education requirements for nurses vary depending on the type of nursing certification someone is seeking. Nurses can loosely be categorized as licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, BSN registered nurses, MSN registered nurses, and nurse practitioners.

LPNs , or licensed practical nurses, are nurses who are involved in basic patient care duties. Becoming an LPN requires a high school diploma, a training program with a clinical component, and passing the NCLEX-PN exam. Training programs for LPNs can vary greatly, but they usually take 12 months. Coursework includes anatomy and physiology, nutrition, and medical ethics as well as practical nursing skills. After passing the certification exam, LPNs are ready to take positions in direct patient care at hospitals, nursing homes, and community health centers.

Students wishing to become RNs, or registered nurses, may enter directly into degree programs without first being an LPN, but LPNs will be able to skip some basic courses. RN programs are administered by colleges and universities, and may lead to either an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Classroom instruction is focused on the biological sciences, pharmacology, psychology, medical terminology, medical equipment use, and clinical skills.

Students will spend increasingly more time in clinical settings as their program progresses. Because these are college degree programs, students will also complete electives and core requirements like English and math. RNs take the NCLEX-RN before becoming fully licensed. RNs take on more responsibility in nursing situations than LPNs. They handle leadership roles, advanced administrative duties, and take care of patients who are unstable or in critical condition. RNs with bachelor’s degrees tend to have higher salaries and more responsibilities than RNs with associate’s degrees.

Advanced practice nurses have more complex educational requirements. Many nurses keep up to date in their fields by completing master’s degree programs. Nurse practitioner programs provide nurses with the opportunity to become primary care providers, essentially performing many of the same duties that primary care physicians would. Programs are available in many specialties including midwifery, pediatrics, geriatrics, family medicine, and cardiology. Some nurses choose to otherwise specialize in anesthesiology, administration, or education. There are many educational programs to choose from for practicing nurses looking to specialize. Doctorates are also offered in nursing specialties. Some states require that nurse practitioners take an additional licensing exam.

Education requirements for nurses are directly related to the type of nurse you are planning to become. Whichever path you choose, it is important to make sure that you enroll in a school that is fully accredited. It is a good idea to talk to current and former students to see how they like the program, and how successful it was for preparing them for their nursing job. Then jump in and get started on the educational path to a rewarding new career. Related Article: NCLEX Requirements