Since the state of Texas (TX) has long since been one of the largest states in the union, it stands to reason that it would need a larger number of nurses to care for the population. Nursing schools offering degree programs in Texas have built their qualifications around serving patients and their families with only the best care. Several nursing degrees are available, which allows nurses to find a career that suits them best while patients receive high quality healthcare. The level of nursing degree depends on how long the courses take. Some degrees require previous degrees or certification before they can be pursued.
Associate Degree Nursing (ADN/ASN) Programs
Some nursing programs will allow you to get an associate’s degree in nursing to help you start your career. These programs are often offered by community colleges or vocational schools. With the basic associate’s degree, you can decide whether to remain at your current nursing level or further your education to get a higher degree.
A licensed vocational nurse (LVN) is referred to as a Licensed Practical Nurse, or LPN, in some other states. This entry-level degree requires a year or less of education and training. The degree program involves both classroom lessons and supervised clinical practice. After graduating from the program, students must pass a certification exam. Once certified, an LVN provides patient care while under the supervision of a registered nurse or physician. LVNs make up a large portion of the nurses in Texas, and they are essential to the healthcare industry. While it is a very basic degree, a Texas nursing degree as an LVN opens the door for furthering education down the road.
A registered nurse (RN) is required to have an Associate’s Degree, which usually takes two years. An RN has a bit more to choose from in terms of job opportunities and diversity of workplaces. Standard job descriptions include managing LVNs, creating care plans for patients and providing emotional support for patients. Some RNs, however, do more work behind the scenes rather than interacting with patients. While an RN degree opens more doors than an LVN degree, RNs can still extend their education and career opportunities by completing a higher level degree program. The Associate Degree of Nursing program at NorthCentralTexasCollege provides students with the two-year education required to learn the necessary information to pass the National Council Licensure Examination.
Graduate nursing degrees allow students to broaden their career horizons. The extended education offers nurses the opportunity to become specialists in their field. Many universities in Texas, including University of Texas, Texas Women’s University and Texas A&M have certified nursing programs that produce some of the best nurses in the state.
A nurse practitioner, or NP, is an RN that has received either a master’s (Masters of Science in Nursing -MSN) or a doctoral degree (PhD or Doctor of Nursing Practice – DNP) in an area of specialization, such as pediatrics or women’s health. If the RN has only received her associate’s degree, she must get a bachelor’s degree either before or during her graduate work. NPs must also pass a national board certification exam in their area of specialty in order to become licensed in addition to the state board test. An NP has the ability to diagnose illnesses and prescribe medication when cases are not severe. Doctors frequently have an NP on staff to help manage some of the less serious illnesses during busy hours.
A clinical nurse specialist (CNP) is another popular graduate degree that helps improve the quality of healthcare services. A CNP focuses on improving the facility, nursing practices and patient care. A CNP also helps build better relationships between members of the nursing staff as well as between the nurses and the patients. This specialty requires training with a holistic approach, and the University of Texas is known for its high quality of education in this area.
Several nursing degrees in Texas require a graduate degree, but that doesn’t mean that an LVN or RN must spend several years in school. Transitional degrees are available to help those with minimal certification further their education. Programs help LVNs transition to the roles of RNs, and RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs bridge the next gap and allow nurses to choose a specialization. RN to Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree programs help RNs to move even farther up the education ladder.
With all of the Texas nursing degrees that are available, it is no wonder that Texas is one of the leaders of the country’s healthcare system. The options seem limitless, and nurses almost always have a chance to further their careers in Texas.