Whether you have just recently decided that a career in nursing is the right choice for you or have been working in the field for a while, there are several degree programs available to current and aspiring nurses. Choosing the right degree program for your needs and your career goals is not always easy. Nurses need to complete a least a basic training program in order to break into the field, but a BSN is often required for nurses who want to advance their careers in the future, get into certain specialties, and improve their salary prospects. We’ve listed some of the main nursing degree options available to help you choose the right option for you.
Licensed Practical Nurse Certification:
If you are just starting out with your nursing career and want to start working in the field as quickly as possible, qualifying as an LPN is the fastest way in. Once you are working as an LPN, there are plenty of options available if you want to study online or at a local college to gain additional nursing qualifications that you can pair with the experience you’re getting on the job to further your career. LPN training programs typically take around a year to complete and are offered by vocational-technical schools, community colleges, and hospitals.
While getting your LPN certification is the best way to break into the nursing workforce quickly, it’s an entry-level position that often means a very basic rate of pay. If you’re concerned about maximizing your earnings as quickly as possible, you might want to consider becoming a Registered Nurse with an associate’s degree in nursing instead. An associate’s degree is typically the minimum requirement to work as an RN in the majority of states, although an increasing number of employers are requiring RN’s to hold a BSN and in New York State, you will need to earn your BSN in at least ten years of starting work as an RN with an ADN. That being said, an ADN is one of the quickest ways into registered nursing, taking around two years to complete. There are several options for getting your ADN online, which are ideal if you’re already working as an LPN and want to progress in your career.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing:
More and more employers are requiring nurses to hold a BSN, so it’s the best degree choice to pursue if you want to enjoy the best career opportunities and better pay. BSN holders typically have their pick of nursing jobs available, and even if you already have an ADN, you might find it necessary to earn a BSN anyway in the future in order to take advantage of job vacancies – particularly in New York. Going straight for your BSN is the best option if you are not concerned about getting into the workforce immediately as an RN, and the extra time to get qualified can certainly pay off. However, with several great online BSN programs to choose from, it is also a great option for LPNs or RNs with an associate’s degree who want to expand their career horizons.
Accelerated BSN programs in Pennsylvania are an ideal choice for those who already hold a bachelor’s degree in a subject other than nursing. If you have decided to change your career and go into nursing but have already earned a bachelor’s degree in something else, you can skip ahead and get qualified faster with an ABSN. The best thing about this option is that you can usually become a registered nurse with a BSN in around two years or less compared to the four years that it would typically take with the traditional BSN program. These courses are very fast-paced and intensive, but they are the ideal choice for anybody looking for a quick career change and an opportunity to save time and money while training in their new field.
Master of Science in Nursing:
Once you have a BSN and are working as a registered nurse, a master’s degree is often required if you want to progress your career further. Typically, a BSN is a minimum requirement for a master’s degree in nursing, which is another great reason why choosing to get a BSN is typically a wiser idea compared to an ADN. Advanced nursing degrees can typically be earned in two years or less and tend to be extremely rigorous. You can choose from a wider variety of specialty areas when studying for your master’s degree in order to help shape your career and point it in the desire direction. As a registered nurse, your employer may be willing to help you fund all or some of your nursing master’s degree, which you can use to pursue more advanced nursing roles such as nurse management, nurse-midwife, or nurse practitioner.
Doctor of Nursing Practice:
To earn a doctor of nursing practice degree, you will typically be required to hold a master of science in nursing. These highly advanced degree programs are the ideal choice for nurses who are looking to move up the career ladder even further into advanced clinical practice, health administration, or clinical research. A doctoral degree in nursing can also be used to qualify as a nurse educator and move your career into the field of teaching the next generation of nurses at a nursing school or community college. A doctor of nursing practice typically takes anywhere between four to six years to complete, and most programs are designed with working nurses in mind.
Finally, if you want to expand the nursing education that you already have, a bridge program could be ideal for you. For example, if you already have an ADN, an ADN-BSN bridge program can help you get your BSN in half the time compared to the traditional route. If you have a BSN, there are BSN-MSN and BSN-DNP bridge programs available that allow you to build on your current knowledge and get advanced qualifications faster.
As an aspiring or current nurse, there are various degree options to choose from when it comes to your education. Which one is right for you?