A genuine desire to help others at their most vulnerable is a necessity in this profession. Nurses must be confident dealing with people from various ethnic, socioeconomic and religious backgrounds. Nurses must handle unpleasant sights, sounds, and odors. They are exposed to contagious diseases and have to work using personal protective equipment. They require an impressive memory and well-developed critical thinking skills.
Nurses must complete an accredited college program that prepares them to take a state examination to get their licenses. Licensed practical nurses are being phased out of the acute care environment. They are still active in other environments such as long-term care and physician offices. However, acute care nurses need at least an ADN.
ADN - The associate degree in nursing is a two-year program offered at community colleges. This program has both classroom and clinical instruction. The graduate is ready to sit for their license exam. Programs are plentiful, but competition for acceptance into a program is still competitive. Two well-known programs are the Sampson Community College in Clinton, North Carolina, and the Western Technical College in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
BSN - The bachelor's program is offered in a four-year university. Students get a basic baccalaureate educational experience while preparing for their nursing career. Graduates are ready to take on nursing jobs with management components to them. Many nurses start with their ADN and then complete their BSN in one of the many RN to BSN online programs. The University of Alabama and the University of California rank as the top two schools offering BSN programs per U.S. News.
MSN - The master’s degree in nursing is a postgraduate degree. The ADN or BSN returns to school and completes their master’s degree. Degrees can be done online or at a local university. There are many programs that target working nurses for this program. It can take between three to six years to complete depending on the amount of time the nurse can devote to the program.
DNP - A doctorate in nursing is one of the most coveted degrees. It is the top of the line for nurses. It can take a nurse four to six years to complete the program. They must have a master’s degree before starting the doctorate program. Graduates usually work in the top echelon of nursing administration.