Nursing Degrees to Become a Qualified Nurse

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Nursing is a vital and rewarding career for people who enjoy caring for and working with others. It is the health care profession which involves caring for sick or injured patients, as well as for families and communities. Nursing is a broad field, with many different areas of specialty, each with its own required educational coursework to be completed in a nursing course. Read more on Specialty Nursing.

Nurses may work independently, sometimes in rural areas, or they may work as part of a larger healthcare team including physicians, technicians and therapists in an urban hospital environment. The wide range of nursing specialties means that prospective nurses can choose from many interesting niches in which to work.

Getting Started in Nursing

Students who wish to purse a nursing career must first complete a suitable nursing course. The type of nursing course is determined by the nursing job to which the candidate aspires. The foundation for nursing jobs consists of an education in both the theory (academic) and the practice (clinical) of nursing. Both forms of education are taught by well-qualified nursing and medical professionals, usually using state-of-the-art clinical facilities.

Courses that lead to full certification at the college level usually take four years to complete, while nursing courses leading to practical nursing or vocational nursing certificates, rather than to professional degrees, may take only two years to complete. Other advanced nursing courses, including those leading to post-graduate degrees, focus on specialized topics and may take months or years to complete.

What are the types of nursing degrees?

There are several different educational pathways into nursing. Community colleges and small local institutions usually offer an Associate of Science in Nursing degree, while universities and four-year colleges often provide Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees, and sometimes also offer Master of Science in Nursing degrees and even Doctorate in Nursing degrees. Because of the constant advances in medicine and healthcare technology, it is expected that nursing students at all levels will continue to learn and be involved with education throughout their careers. The following are brief summaries regarding the three most common professional nursing degrees.

Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN)

This degree is usually available through community colleges and nursing schools, and typically takes two years to achieve. Students who receive the ASN degree are qualified to apply for licensing as Registered Nurses (RN).

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

This is a four-year college degree in nursing granted by a college or university. Beyond being qualified to sit for the Registered Nurse (RN) examinations, recipients of this degree are also considered qualified for entry-level roles as nursing administrators or as nursing researchers.

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

This is an advanced post-graduate degree, and it is sought by those who are already nursing professionals, yet who seek additional knowledge and plan to work in nursing administration, health policy, or nursing leadership roles.

In summary, the above graduate and post-graduate nursing degrees are available in many different specialties, including acute and emergency care, geriatric, pediatric, neonatal, obstetrics, and psychiatric care, just to name a few. And, the need for nurses continues to increase as the population grows. Indeed, students who successfully complete nursing courses are likely to enjoy exciting and rewarding nursing careers.

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