Registered Nurse Degree
Registered nurses are those members of the health care team who work directly to care for sick and injured patients. In the course of their job, these professionals assess, plan, and implement direct patient care. They have a significantly greater scope of work and responsibility than do nurses with lesser degrees or licenses. Earning a registered nurse degree is demanding and exacting work, but attaining this degree will allow the graduate to work in a rewarding and lucrative profession.
The process to become a registered nurse may vary from state to state, but typically there are three paths that one can take when pursing a registered nurse degree. A bachelor’s of science degree in nursing is one avenue to consider. This process usually takes about four years to complete, and is offered by most colleges and universities. Nurses intending to work in specialty areas or supervisory positions should consider earning this bachelor’s degree. Students desiring to enter the workforce quicker may opt for a two-year associate’s degree in nursing. A limited number of hospitals offer diploma programs, taking up to three years to complete. Once a popular option, these diploma programs are becoming scarce.
Before embarking on any of these paths, it is important to consider the benefits of each of these types of education. Certainly, advancement opportunities are more plentiful for registered nurses with a BSN than with either of the other two programs. It is also important to note that many colleges and universities offer a “bridge” program, which allows nurses with a BSN to obtain their master’s degrees in an accelerated time frame. A growing number of nurses are deciding to further their careers by becoming nurse anesthetists or nurse practitioners. For these advanced degree professions, the BSN is the best option.
Every program for nursing education will include intense classroom studies, combined with clinical work. Students seeking a registered nurse degree should be prepared to complete course work in several of the sciences, including: anatomy, physiology, microbiology, chemistry, nutrition, psychology and other behavioral sciences, and nursing. A number of liberal arts classes will also be required for both the associate’s and the bachelor’s degrees. In every state in the union, and in the District of Columbia, as well as in all U.S. territories, nurses are required to be licensed and must graduate from an approved school of nursing. They must successfully complete a national licensing examination.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nursing jobs continue to be in high demand, and this demand is expected to continue. This occupation is expected to grow faster than most other jobs. Over the next 8-10 years, there is a projected need for over 581,500 additional registered nurses. Thousands of other job openings will be created from the retirement of current registered nurses. With advances in health care and more procedures being conducted in physicians’ offices and outpatient clinics, the greatest job growth will be in these areas, rather than in hospitals. However, hospitals will continue to employ a significant number of registered nurses.