Nursing careers are some of the most common jobs in the health science category.
This is because it does not usually require the same extensive training as becoming a doctor. Entry level positions tend to pay well, and there is plenty of room for advancement. Another benefit of having a nursing job is that working in a medical profession often provides some of the most sought-after insurance policies. Nursing can be a stressful job, but most nurses get paid vacation time.
The requirements for a nursing job change depending on which type of nursing career you apply for as the positions vary. Some are entry level positions, while others require years of experience or additional certification.
The responsibilities change depending on your career choice. Some certification is available through online courses, which is helpful for students with a busy schedule. Nursing jobs are most common in hospital settings, but other medical facilities require a nursing staff as well. More detailed information about different nursing career paths is provided below.
Types of Nursing Careers
Multiple types of nursing careers exist for you to choose from. Typically, nursing careers refer to either a licensed practical nurse (LPN), licensed vocational nurse (LVN) or a registered nurse (RN). Several variations of nursing careers fall under these groups as well. These jobs are considered specialist roles, such as a nurse case manager or an advanced practical nurse.
In most cases, these specialist jobs require more training, with most needing a bachelor’s degree at a minimum. Some hospitals place strict experience requirements on these jobs and require anywhere from one to five years of prior nursing experience depending on where you apply.
For most hospitals, becoming an LPN or an LVN requires the least amount of experience. Many nurses use these jobs as entry level positions. Even students who know they want a different nursing career often take one of these positions to get experience and help pay for additional schooling or certification. RNs often have higher educational requirements compared to either LPNs or LVNs.
Typically, most registered nurses need at minimum a bachelor’s degree for their career. Depending on where you work, you may be able to waive some of the education requirements if you have enough practical experience as a nurse.
It is important to note, when you apply for a licensed nursing position, having a degree may not be enough. You must generally pass the necessary exams which are run by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.
The exact exam you take changes depending on your desired nursing career. If you do not have any previous certification, you generally start with the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). This exam tests applicants on a number of areas, including medical knowledge, safe nursing practices and general nursing skills.
Students who do not pass the test the first time are allowed to retake the test at a later date. The exam is typically only offered four times a year, and students must pay an examination fee each time they take the test.
Licensed Practical Nurse and Licensed Vocational Nurse
Students earn either their LPN or LVN certification after completing a one-year nursing course. The course or certification is commonly available at community colleges and technical schools. To qualify, the program must meet certain state requirements, which change slightly depending on where the course is held.
LPNs and LVNs are often considered the same position because they share so many duties, although some hospitals have slightly different tasks depending on the certification type. The exact duties change depending on the state. If you are moving, make sure you do not require additional certification for the tasks you were previously performing at your old job.
While the two certifications are similar, many nurses find the LPN certificate is typically faster to obtain than an LVN. Both types of nurses have the opportunity to advance to a different career, such as becoming a registered nurse or taking on a supervising position in the hospital.
Common tasks for either an LPN or an LVN include administering medication to patients, helping patients take care of themselves while they stay in a hospital, performing basic medical procedures and general patient observation. Some of these tasks are performed alone while others must be overseen by either a medical supervisor or a registered nurse.
A registered nurse has some of the same responsibilities as an LPN or LVN. In addition to providing patient care, registered nurses are responsible for initially evaluating the condition of a patient. Registered nurses work with other medical professionals to come up with a patient care plan. Some registered nurses perform more advanced medical procedures and are responsible for handling specialized medical equipment.
In some hospitals, registered nurses oversee LPNs or LVNs. This position has more requirements than traditional nursing jobs. Depending on where you apply, you may need a Bachelor of Science degree or certification from an approved nursing program. Many registered nurses have an associate degree in nursing as well.
Diploma in Nursing
In some cases, students advance in a nursing career using practical experience from a training program. These training programs typically take either two or three years to complete. For many students, this is a preferable option as it allows them to work while advancing their career. These nurses may not initially earn as much as a student who graduates with a degree, but they catch up quickly once the program is finished.
For most nursing careers, nurses either have an associate degree in nursing or a Bachelor of Science Nursing (BSN) degree. An associate degree only takes two years to complete, while a bachelor’s degree takes four years to complete. A bachelor’s degree is an option for nurses who want the highest paying job possible upon graduation.
Obtaining a nursing degree is not always cheap, though many health science scholarships and grants are specifically available to nurses. These options help to significantly cut down on costs. Nursing jobs pay well even for students who just graduate with a degree. Most nurses find a job shortly after graduating, so there is less time for college loans to accrue debt.
If you want a nursing degree, make sure your school has the necessary certification for the type of nursing career you are interested in pursuing. In some cases, you may be able to take an online course to satisfy the certification requirements.