When someone considers going into the nursing field, all they usually consider is helping patients, but there is much more that goes into nursing than just helping patients. Because of this, you need to understand the levels of nursing degrees that you can choose from. The level of nursing you choose will decide the length of school required, your level of responsibility as well as your demand and salary. In most cases, your degree will decide where you are able to work.
Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
A CNA is also considered a nurse’s aide. Becoming a CNA usually only takes a few weeks and can assist you in getting a minimum entry-level position in the nursing industry. As a CNA, you help the registered nurses with their daily tasks, such as basic hygiene of the patients. CNAs are mainly responsible for grooming, bathing, feeding and changing the patient’s clothes. It is important to know that this level of nursing is quickly being replaced by licensed practical nurses, but if you can find a facility that hires this level of nursing, you will be able to gain great experience working one-on-one with nurses and patients.
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
This level of nursing does not require a degree but rather a diploma that a nursing student can earn in a year. An LPN works directly under a registered nurse and assists them in their day-to-day duties. A LPN will help gather information for medical records, dress wounds, collect urine samples, prepare equipment for the registered nurses and, most often, handle the bedside care of patients.
Registered Nurse (RN)
An RN has earned their associate’s degree from a 2-year community college and passed all licensing requirements from their state. The associate’s degree will help nurses enter into entry-level positions. RNs are very important in the chain of care, as they are responsible for administering medications, taking and monitoring vital signs as well as supervising any LPNs that may be on staff. While RNs are the most popular level of nursing in the medical field, most hospitals have begun to hire RNs that have obtained their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. The bachelor’s degree tends to be the nursing degree level that most nurses stop their education at, but there are many more options to continue their schooling.
Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL)
A CNL is a new level of nursing. It is the first new nursing role to be introduced to the industry in over 35 years. The CNL is a RN with their master’s degree in the science of nursing. They are responsible for overseeing all nurses in the facility as well as monitoring patients care and coordinating communication between all of the nurses.
If a nurse chooses to continue their education, they have the option of earning their Master’s Degree or their Doctorate. These levels of nursing degrees are for nurses who have a desire to specialize in individualized care of patients and can lead to positions in administration and upper management as well as an increase in salary.
Nurse Practitioner (NP)
A NP has gone through all of the levels of nursing and is equipped with their masters or doctoral degrees. NPs are RNs who have received extensive training and additional education in a specific area. They are nationally certified and can work in family health, pediatrics, neonatal, adult health, oncology, emergency and so forth. NPs are able to diagnose, treat, evaluate and manage the illnesses and diseases of patients along with prescribing medication.
Most nurses that choose to climb the nursing ladder and obtain the highest level of nursing degree available are to start with their associate degree and continue to attend school while they are working as a nurse. There are many schools that offer LPN to RN, RN to BSN and BSN to MSN programs to help nurses achieve their goals. No matter what levels of nursing degrees you earn, you will be able to have a rewarding career in the field of medicine.