Nursing is a profession built on passion. Few enter this field unless they feel a deep desire to help, heal, and serve those who cannot care for themselves. Nurses perform a vital role in society, and a compassionate one for humanity. It’s been said that nursing is a work of heart, and this rings as true today as it did in the days of Florence Nightingale, mother of modern nursing. If you’re someone who truly loves to care for others and think you might like to become a nurse, check out this guide to popular nursing degrees to determine which is the right fit for you.
Who Would Make a Good Nurse?
Before you enroll in any nursing degree program, consider whether you have the qualities of a successful nurse. As mentioned above, passion, heart, and caregiving are important traits of nurses, along with:
- Compassion: Nurses need to be caring and empathetic, as they will be working with people who are often in vulnerable or difficult situations.
- Communication skills: Nurses need to be able to effectively communicate with patients, their families, and other members of the healthcare team. This includes the ability to listen attentively and to explain complex medical information in a clear and concise manner.
- Attention to detail: Nurses are responsible for administering medications and monitoring patients' vital signs, so they need to be detail-oriented and able to follow protocols accurately.
- Physical stamina: Nursing can be physically demanding, as they may be on their feet for long periods of time and may need to lift or move patients.
- Adaptability: Nurses often work in fast-paced environments and may need to be able to handle sudden changes in patient care plans or respond to emergencies.
- Leadership skills: Nurses may be responsible for leading a team of healthcare providers, so they should have the ability to delegate tasks and provide direction to others.
- Problem-solving skills: Nurses need to be able to think critically and troubleshoot problems that may arise in patient care.
- Emotional intelligence: Nurses need to be able to manage their own emotions, as well as those of their patients and their families, in order to provide the best possible care.
So, do you think you have what it takes? Nursing is one of the most challenging—and rewarding—fields out there. If you love a challenge and are looking for fulfilling and meaningful work, look no further.
What Type of Nursing Degree is Right for Me?
There are several types of nursing degrees, each of which corresponds to a different level of education and preparation for life as a nurse. Here is a brief overview of some common nursing degrees:
Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is a two-year program at community colleges and technical schools—some of which offer an accelerated ADN program which can be completed in as little as 1.5 years. This program emphasizes the knowledge and skills needed to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a registered nurse (RN).
Graduates of the ADN program are eligible to take the NCLEX exam for licensure. Only a licensed nurse is able to practice in a healthcare setting.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is a four-year program, although some universities offer accelerated BSNs which can be completed in as little as 2.5 years. This program provides a more comprehensive education in nursing than the ADN, including coursework in liberal arts, sciences, and nursing.
Graduates of a BSN program are also required to take the NCLEX exam for licensure. This degree is considered the standard level of education for a professional working nurse and is typically required for leadership and advanced practice roles in nursing.
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is a graduate-level program that is typically two years in length—but an accelerated MSN program could be completed in as little as 15 months. It is designed for nurses who want to specialize in a particular area, such as nursing education, nursing administration, or advanced practice nursing.
MSNs often choose a focus, either Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) or Nurse Educator (NE). These two roles differ greatly:
Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner
A Family Nurse Practitioner has similar authority to a doctor. These nurses treat patients, prescribe medications, order diagnostic tests, and much more. This role is perfect for nurses who want to play a bigger role in the treatment of their favorite patients.
Master of Science in Nursing – Nursing Education
A Nurse Educator trades the busy ICU for a quieter classroom setting. These nurses instruct aspiring nurses using formal curricula blended with their firsthand experience, educating the next generation of caregivers on how to save lives.
How Long Does it Take to Earn a Nursing Degree?
The length of time it takes to earn a nursing degree depends on the type of degree you are pursuing. It's important to note that the length of time it takes to complete a nursing degree program may vary depending on factors such as the specific program and institution, the number of credits taken per semester, and whether the student is studying full-time or part-time.
BS to BSN – 12 months
If you’ve already earned a bachelor’s degree in any field, you could complete a Bachelor’s to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BS to BSN) degree program. This means you get to skip the foundational courses (because you’ve already taken them) and move ahead to the nursing-specific courses.
At an accelerated nursing school offering a BS to BSN, you could earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing in as little as 12 months.
RN to BSN – 12 months
Another example: if you’ve already earned your RN and worked as an active and licensed nurse, then you could return to school for your BSN and graduate in as little as 12 months. This path is known as an accelerated RN to BSN degree program.
What Skills Could I Learn in Nursing School?
Nursing school provides students with a range of knowledge and skills that are necessary for a future in nursing. Here are a few examples of skills that students may learn in nursing school:
- Clinical skills: Nursing students could learn how to perform a variety of clinical procedures, such as taking vital signs, administering medications, and assisting with physical exams.
- Communication skills: Nurses need to be able to communicate effectively with patients, their families, and other members of the healthcare team. Nursing students may learn how to listen attentively, explain medical information in a clear and concise manner, and document patient care accurately.
- Leadership skills: Nurses may be responsible for leading a team of healthcare providers, so they need to be able to delegate tasks and provide direction to others. Nursing students may learn how to lead and manage a team effectively.
- Problem-solving skills: Nurses need to be able to think critically and troubleshoot problems that may arise in patient care. Nursing students may learn how to analyze patient data, identify problems, and develop solutions.
- Emotional intelligence: Nurses need to be able to manage their own emotions, as well as those of their patients and their families, in order to provide the best possible care. Nursing students may learn how to recognize and manage their own emotions and the emotions of others.
- Cultural competency: Nurses need to be able to provide care that is sensitive to the cultural and personal beliefs of their patients. Nursing students may learn how to respect and understand the cultural differences of their patients and how to provide culturally appropriate care.
- Research skills: Nurses may be involved in conducting research to improve patient care and outcomes. Nursing students may learn how to design and conduct research studies, interpret research findings, and apply research to practice.
Are You Ready to Save Lives?
Earning a nursing degree could be easier (and quicker) than you think. Contact ECPI University’s College of Nursing today, to learn more about our accelerated nursing degree programs. In as little as 12 months, 1.5 years, or 2.5 years, you could be graduating from nursing school and earning your nursing license. What are you waiting for? It could be the BEST decision you ever make!
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