Nursing Degree Requirements
Nurses are vital members of the health care team. However, it is surprising to some to learn that there are actually several varying nursing degrees. Many nurses enter the field of nursing by earning an LPN, or Licensed Practical Nurse, degree. Advanced degrees lead to becoming a registered nurse (RN), or higher. Nursing degree requirements vary within the profession.
- The nursing degree requirements for LPN’s are usually met by completing programs at a community or technical college. This program can be completed in about three semesters depending upon the specific school. LPN’s usually provide a great deal of direct healthcare to patients. They are charged with meeting the daily needs of the patients undergoing treatment. It is the duty of the LPN to communicate those needs with registered nurses and/or doctors. In addition to earning a diploma from an accredited LPN program, the licensed practical nurse must pass an NCLEX-PN licensing examination. Most of these diploma programs are structured with coursework including subjects including anatomy, biology, first aid, and other health care related sciences.
- Many licensed practical nurses choose to continue their education by enrolling in a program to become registered nurses. Still other candidates will go directly into a RN program. Nursing degree requirements for registered nurses requires minimally an associate’s degree. The curriculum will include studies in nursing and health-related sciences including biology, anatomy, physiology, and microbiology. An advantage to earning an associate’s degree is that it affords the nurse the opportunity to enter the workforce and gain valuable, hands-on experience. The associate’s degree usually takes two years to complete, but some institutions have a three-year program. The student will be required to complete clinical work, usually in a hospital or other institutional setting. A limited number of hospitals offer a diploma program for becoming registered nurses. Once a popular option, this program is rapidly being phased out. The registered nurse must also pass a national licensing examination.
- Gaining in popularity is the four-year Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing. This four-year program is intended for registered nurses who desire to either advance in their careers, or further their education by obtaining either a master or doctorate degree. Nursing degree requirements for specialty nursing areas such as anesthesiology, emergency medicine, or surgery usually demand that nurses possess at least a bachelor’s degree. Nurses who are considering becoming nurse practitioners should opt for the bachelor’s degree program. In addition to science and health-related coursework, the student is expected to complete several general education classes. Most schools will include a significant amount of laboratory work or actual hands-on training in a hospital or other health care facility. Even with a bachelor’s or master’s degree, all nurses are required to successfully pass the national licensing examination known as the NCLEX-PN licensing examination
- Many institutions offer bridge programs that allow students to earn a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in nursing simultaneously. These nursing degree requirements for these programs are generally designed to be completed in five years.