A career in the medical field is a good choice nowadays. Due to increased demand for healthcare professionals, a career in nursing is especially popular. Nursing educational programs vary a great deal, and sometimes it is difficult to choose which program better fits one’s ambition, age, or financial situation. Basically, there are three different nursing programs available: a licensed vocational nurse (LVN), an associate degree in nursing, and a bachelor degree in nursing.
The simplest route to becoming a nurse is to enroll in a vocational nurse program. In Texas and California, the basic nursing career is called a licensed vocational nurse (LVN), but in other states it is called a licensed practical nurse (LPN).
Most vocational nursing programs can be finished in one year which is a great choice for people interested in a fast track to a nursing career. LVN programs have different entrance requirements. Some programs require prerequisites courses such as math, English, and medical terminology; others require only a high school diploma and a passing grade in the LVN pre – entrance exam.
After completing the LVN program, graduates receive a certificate or diploma in vocational (practical) nursing. Finally, they are required to take the National Council Licensure Exam. Passing this exam ensures that a LVN is ready to enter the nursing field at an entry level.
Licensed vocational nurses can also advance their careers by applying their LVN certificate toward the Registered Nurse bridge program. It is important to keep in mind that most vocational schools do not offer college credits. Therefore, if a graduate of a vocational school wants to become a Registered Nurse, he or she will need to take additional college courses in English, psychology and anatomy.
So, when looking for a vocational nurse program, it is important to choose only those schools where students have transferable credits.
The next path into nursing is to obtain an Associates Degree in Nursing. This program has to be approved by the state’s Board of Nursing and usually takes 2 years to complete. There is such a demand to attend this program at community colleges that in some cases there is a two to three year waiting list before one can enter the program.
Requirements for entrance includes chemistry, psychology, anatomy, microbiology, college level English and math courses. There are many private schools for those who do not want to lose time. However, the cost of such nursing programs could be about five times higher than in the community colleges.
In order to earn an RN license, one must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX). Although an Associate Degree allows a student to become a Registered Nurse, the Bachelor of Science Nursing program has the best advancement opportunities in the job market.
For example, a graduate with a BSN degree can get more prestigious positions such as nursing administration, management, or even work at an insurance company. BSN programs are usually taken at four year colleges or universities.
The prerequisites are the same as for a nursing associate program plus a few additional classes, such as sociology, speech and statistics. Students who already have their Associate degree in nursing can get their Bachelor of Science degree through a bridge program.
A good schooling alternative is through online programs. There are no waiting lists, and online courses are not complicated. It is very convenient to do homework from a home computer whenever one has time. The flexibility of studying online doesn’t interfere with a student’s current job and gives him or her the opportunity to work, make money, and at the same time earn a Bachelor degree.
There are online accelerated programs offering Registered Nurse to a Master of Science in Nursing degree bridge programs without having first obtained a Bachelor of Science degree Some students complete the RN to MSN program in as little as two years! A Masters degree in Nursing gives one unlimited opportunities in the medical field including starting a private practice as Nurse Practitioner.
All in all, the health care market has experienced a nursing shortage, and one cannot go wrong by entering the respected medical professional regardless of which path to nursing is chosen.