Nurses, at every level, are in higher-demand than ever before. In fact, by 2018, there will be a need for more than a half a million new nurses. Interacting with and caring for patients in a hospital, nursing home or doctor’s office setting is both a fulfilling and lucrative career choice. Are you interested in a nursing career, but don’t know where to start? Let’s take a look at nursing school requirements, from the LPN to MSN degree level, and the credentials you need to succeed in the nursing field.
LPNs or licensed practical nurses care for patients in a variety of healthcare settings. LPNs often work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and residence facilities such as nursing homes or assisted living homes. Primary responsibilities include: measuring and recording vital signs, preparing and administering medication, and monitoring and maintaining patient records.
Nursing school requirements for LPNs are typically one to two-year programs. LPNs have the option of earning licensure through a state-approved one year program. These training programs are offered through technical schools or community colleges. One year LPN training programs are also offered through many hospitals and colleges or universities. Many LPNS choose to earn their Associate’s of Science in Nursing. The ASN degree is a two-year program that prepares prospective nursing candidates for a career as a LPN.
Whether you choose to pursue licensure through a one or two-year tract, all LPN program graduates are required to take a national nursing licensure test, commonly referred to as the NCLEX-PN. After successfully passing the NCLEX-PN (practical nurse), program graduates can begin their career as a LPN.
RN’s or registered nurses are a step above LPNs in the nursing ladder and are generally given a greater range of clinical responsibilities. The responsibilities of RNs are broad and varied and often include: treating and educating patients and families, administering medication and treatments, and assisting with patient follow-up and necessary rehabilitation.
The two most common ways for students to become registered nurses are through an Associates of Science in nursing or Bachelor of Science in nursing degree program. The ASN degree typically takes students 2 years to complete while the BSN is a 4-year program. The ASN and BSN degree programs prepare nursing candidates to take the state licensure exam or the NCLEX-RN (registered nurse). LPNs and RNs who have already completed their ASN degree often enroll in BSN programs in order to obtain a higher level credential and be eligible for the NCLEX-RN exam. Earning an RN designation qualifies nurses for a higher salary.
Nurses who earn an MSN degree are at the highest tier of the nursing ladder. Both LPNs and RNs are eligible to earn an MSN degree. LPNs and RNs who have earned their ASN degree may enroll in an accelerated ASN to MSN degree program. This degree program typically takes 3 to 4 years to complete and graduates are awarded both a BSN and MSN degree. RNs who have earned their BSN degree may enroll in the BSN to MSN degree program. This program typically takes 1 and a half to 2 years to complete. Upon completion, RN’s will be awarded with an MSN degree.
Earning an MSN degree gives nurses the opportunities to not only specialize, but also to earn a substantially larger salary. Nurses who have earned the MSN degree are eligible to work as acute or critical care clinical specialist, family nurse practitioners, and in various other nursing specialties.
Nursing school requirements are different for every level of nursing. Earning your LPN licensure or an Associates of Science in nursing degree is a great way to start your nursing career. Earning a BSN or graduating from an accelerated MSN program will give you enhanced credentials and the chance to earn a higher salary. If you’ve always been interested in a nursing career, check out the nursing school requirements for your state, and get started on the path towards a rewarding career in nursing.