Some people find that they enjoy working with and caring for the health of individuals. Earning a nursing degree can open the door to one of the most rewarding, high-demand, high-paying careers in the medical field. The role and responsibilities of the nurse has evolved to far more than just bed side care. Specialized fields like Cardiac, Dermatologic, and Neurological care among others are reported to increase in demand by more than 26% by the year 2020. Those who choose to explore a degree in nursing will find that there are many new and different options to complete their education, training and specified certifications. Many of the necessary courses are now offered completely online or with a part time classroom option, to complete.
Nursing Degree Time Frames
An education in the nursing field also offers a diverse range of time frames for completion. Training and certification courses can last anywhere from a few weeks or months and a Degree may only take a couple years. Many students find the flexibility offered in this field of study lends itself to continuing their education while working in this field. Certifications in a specific field take less time and with more and more course options and methods for completion available, students working towards a degree in the medical field can start working in their field sooner. After a student has earned certification, that education and experience can easily be applied towards earning additional certifications and degrees. Nursing is one of the highest-demand fields in the foreseeable future – and due expected drastic shortages, the career outlook could be stronger.
The field of nursing provides a few entry-level choices for employment within the industry. Entry-level positions in nursing still require some type of licensing to interact with patients, but courses can be completed in as few as eighteen weeks for a Nurse’s Aide or as a Certified Nursing Assistant. Many students working towards a bachelor’s degree in nursing choose to acquire this certification first and start working in nursing field while continuing towards a degree. As a bonus these certifications can also help students qualify for fast track programs that focus on building skills rather than repeating the same training.
Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing
Earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing is the most common way students eventually achieve the title of Registered Nurse (RN). A four or five-year program will provide a student with all of the education and skill training they need to earn their license as a Registered Nurse. Once a degree is earned, students are ready to take the NCLEX-RN exam that is required for certification. A Registered Nurse will have many responsibilities in any medical setting. These include checking on the needs of and educating the patient, administering medication, observing and recording the patient behaviors, establishing treatment plans, diagnostic tests and consulting with physicians. Often RNs are additionally responsible for supervising Licensed Practical Nurses and Certified Nurses Assistants (LPNs and CNAs), coaching, training and guiding them.
Master’s Degree in Nursing
A master’s degree in nursing is one top degrees someone can earn in the field of nursing. In order to enter a master’s program, a student must have completed a bachelor’s degree in nursing and have some practical experience working in a hospital or inpatient setting. A master’s degree in nursing provides high-quality, specific training in advanced nursing skills. The student may choose one or several areas of study. These skills can then be applied to work in research or advanced clinical training. A master’s of science in nursing (MSN) also provides a person the ability to learn management and supervisory skills, which can be applied to administrative positions in medical facilities.
Continuing Education for Nurses
Professionals who are already certified as an LPN, LVN or RN will need to maintain certifications with continuing education programs. These programs provide refresher courses on common skills, plus the ability for nursing professionals to pick up additional specialized skills and certifications focusing on neonatal intensive, pediatric, or geriatric care. Most states require a nursing professional to complete a specific number of continuing education credit hours per year to maintain certification.
No matter what path a student chooses, a nursing degree can be the beginning to a great career with the potential for reliable income, benefits and job security.