Nursing Degrees

Student Nursing Forum - discussion of nursing degrees, education and nursing careers.

There are many levels of nursing degrees. Each requires a specific educational program, and each provides a different set of nursing jobs opportunities. With the growing popularity of distance learning, several online nursing degree programs, even online masters-in-nursing programs, have been developed - the quality of these programs can vary, so its usually advisable to stick with well-established programs.

LPN - Licensed Practical Nurse or LVN - Licensed Vocational Nurse

Training for LPNs lasts about 1 year, and includes both a classroom segment and a patient-care segment. LPNs are licensed by each state, so requirements vary by location. The LPN provides general care for patients, including taking vital signs, changing wound dressings, basic phlebotomy, and daily intake-outtake monitoring.

According to the US Dept.of Labor Statistics most new LPN jobs will come from nursing care facilities. However, it is also appears that hospital jobs for LPNs will be decreasing. On balance, demand for LPNs is expected to decrease in the coming years.

The median salary for LPNs in 2002 was $31,440, with the top 10% making up to $44,040, and the bottom 10% making less than $22,860.

RN - Registered Nurse

There are three different nursing degrees that lead to an RN. To become an RN, nurses need to graduate from a 4-year Bachelor of Sciences in Nursing (BSN), an Associates of Nursing (ADN), or a Nursing Diploma program offered by hospitals. In addition, there is a national licensing exam (the National Council Licensure Examination - NCLEX-RN exam).

Because the RN nursing degree has a national licensing component, it is easier to get licensed in multiple states. As a result, RNs are heavily recruited for travel nursing positions.

According to the Dept. of Labor Statistics, RNs will be in heavy demand for the foreseeable future. More new RN nursing jobs are expected to open up than any other type of job. Given the recent tightening of restrictions on foreign nurses entering the US, demand for RNs will grow even stronger.

The median nursing salary for an RN is $48,090 (as of 2002, US DLS), with the top 10% making more than $69,670 a year. Because of the broad range of jobs that an RN can take, salaries widely by job description.

Nursing degree programs are available at a variety of schools, but you should confirm if they have the program in which you are interested - some have only BSN to masters, others can get you to a BSN.

References

U.S. Department of Labor Statistics - LPN and LVN career information
U.S. Department of Labor Statistics - RN career information
Nursing Jobs - information on the variety and outlook for Nursing jobs in the U.S.
Travel Nursing - information on traveling nurse programs and nursing recruiters across the country

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