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How to Get a Degree in Nursing

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Essential Steps on the Way to a Nursing Career

If you want to become a nurse, there are a lot of career paths available. Nurses play a critical role in healthcare facilities and can occupy different positions, from certified nursing assistants to nurse leaders.

It is easy to get confused while choosing a future profession in nursing. There are many different types of nurses, specializations, and levels of nursing that require particular education. That’s why it is critical to follow several steps on the way to a nursing career.

  • Decide in what direction you want to move and choose your career path
  • Find the educational requirements for the desired nursing role
  • Earn the required degree
  • Pass certification examination and apply for licensure

As you can see, first, you need to research what are levels of nursing and their opportunities, review possible nursing career paths, and choose your career goal. After that, it is time to focus on the main step — pursuing a required nursing degree.

Available Nursing Degrees

The path to the desired career usually starts the same for everyone – from pursuing a degree in nursing. So let’s take a closer look at available degrees in nursing.

There are several types of nursing degrees that differ in the time needed to complete a degree and in the education curriculum:

  • Nursing diploma
  • Associate’s degree (ADN)
  • Bachelor’s degree (BSN)
  • Master’s degree (MSN)
  • Doctorate degree (DNP, Ph.D.)

Nursing diplomas are the easiest to earn. They are awarded by community colleges after entry-level programs that take not more than several months to graduate. But, this type of nursing degree will allow you to work only in entry-level positions such as certified nursing assistant.

An ADN or BSN degree will take more time to graduate (about 2-4 years), but they give more career opportunities in nursing. In an ADN or BSN program, a student can get more complex knowledge and then apply for more prospective positions.

Master’s and doctorate degrees are the higher levels of nursing education. Before pursuing these degrees, a student has to earn a BSN. The duration of MSN/DNP/Ph.D. programs is usually 2 years. Pursuing a master’s or doctorate degree gives the best career opportunities in nursing, so if you have ambitious career goals, earning an MSN or DNP degree is a must for you.

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Level of Nursing & Requirements

Now, let’s take a look at different levels of nursing and what education is required for them. Basically, there are two levels of nursing:

  • Entry-level nursing
  • Advanced nursing

Entry-level nursing positions include, for example, certified nursing assistant and registered nurse. The educational requirements for these roles are not high — a candidate should have a nursing diploma or hold an ADN or BSN degree.

Advanced nursing includes clinical (advanced practice registered nurse) and non-clinical (nurse leadership and administration) positions. To become an APRN, it is required to hold a master’s or doctorate degree. Some advanced nursing roles are certified nurse midwife, clinical nurse specialist, and nurse practitioner. Besides, you can become a nurse anesthetist or choose one from many other nursing career paths available.

Do in-depth research, set your goal, and start pursuing a degree for the desired position.

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