The nursing profession has experienced employment growth for many years, creating a steady demand for qualified nurses. There are many different types of nursing jobs available today, and nurses with greater levels of education and experience often garner the higher paying positions and enjoy greater opportunities for advancement.
Types of Nursing Licenses and Education Requirements
Licensed Practical Nurses, or LPNs, require the least amount of training and education. Generally, LPN programs cover the most basic aspects of patient care. LPNs, also referred to in some states as Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVN), are limited in the types of patient care that they can provide, although cross-training and supervised instruction are allowing some experienced LPNs to perform more advanced patient care. Most LPNs assist RNs who provide more extensive or complex patient care.
Registered Nurses, or RNs, have a wide array of job opportunities and may find positions in patient care as well as in administration. RNs often specialize in a particular type of care and may obtain additional credentials and certifications.
RNs are required to have at least an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), but many RNs who seek greater employment opportunities and potential earnings, or simply wish to advance their career, often continue on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.
RNs who pursue and obtain master’s degrees may be licensed to work as an Advanced Practice Nurse (APN). APNs are usually highly specialized and work most often as Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Practitioners, Nurse Midwives, or Clinical Nurse Specialists.
Earning a BSN Degree
Working nurses with busy careers or family schedules often find it challenging to attend classes at a traditional campus. Fortunately, there are many excellent online programs that offer licensed registered nurses the opportunity to complete their BSN while maintaining their work schedules. These online RN to BSN programs provide flexibility and the ability for students to study at their own pace on days and times that are convenient for them. These programs are specifically designed for nurses who already have clinical experience and have an RN license. Online BSN completion programs can often allow students to earn their bachelor’s in less time than attending classes on-campus.
Evaluating and Choosing Nursing Degree Programs
Before choosing a nursing degree program, students should complete the following steps to make sure they choose a program that is right for them:
- Determine state nursing requirements and ensure that the nursing degree program is compliant with the state’s requirements.
- Determine the school’s accreditation status. Accredited universities offer students several advantages, including quality of education, greater financial aid options and transferability of earned credits.
- Determine the program’s “clinical” or practice project requirements and options for satisfying those requirements. Working nurses may be able to access various nursing departments to fulfill project requirements. Most BSN programs require that the student work with a mentor, who may easily be found at work.
- Ask if there are work experience requirements to apply. Some may not admit new RNs without a few years of patient care experience.
- Evaluate and compare programs in terms of quality of faculty, class size, course offerings, student support systems, and programs costs.
- For online programs, students should make sure they have the necessary computer equipment to access their courses. High speed Internet access is recommended. They should also determine whether the program is synchronous or asynchronous and should make sure that the online learning system is easy for them to use.
A BSN Nursing Degree Can Offer Nurses a Competitive Edge
Taking advantage of Internet-based programs to obtain a bachelor’s degree in nursing through an online RN to BSN program can give nurses the competitive edge they need to pursue higher-level positions and greater earning potential. Nurses who want to further their career should look to online nursing schools to get the education that the most successful careers demand.