The nursing profession is the largest medical profession according to the bureau of labor and statistics. There are close to 3 million recorded nursing employees in the USA only and the number is said to increase each year and at a high rate. This is because nursing is a diversified profession and students have a wide range of programs to choose from.
Below are various degree programs in the nursing field that students can enroll to; either as an entry to the nursing profession or as continuing education to prior nursing degree programs. The list is put in an ascending order; starting with the lowest to the highest nursing degrees available.
i) Associate of Science in Nursing degree
This is the lowest nursing program offered at a degree level. Students who enroll for this nursing program usually have the objective of becoming Registered Nurses (RNs). Student nurses in this degree program have to undertake two years of study learning the major nursing concepts. At this point, the student nurse does not specialize in any field of nursing; they take courses on all aspects of nursing.
The program is more of the technical focus and is usually suitable for students who want to start earning fast but have a future thought of advancing in the nursing to earn a Bachelors Degree in nursing.
ii) Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Also referred to as baccalaureate, BSN is the entry level of nurses who want to assume major nursing roles like administration and leadership positions. Typically, this degree program takes four years to complete inclusive of both practical and theory classes. This is the most recommended entry point to nursing if you don’t mind being in class for four years. On graduation with a BSN, a student is eligible for certification by NCLEX to become a licensed RN. It is the road to more fulfilling and great opportunities in the nursing profession.
iii) Master of Science in Nursing
A Master of Science in Nursing is the perfect opportunity for nurses who want to become Nurse Practitioners, Specialists Nurses or generally, Advanced Practice Registered Nurses. This graduate program usually takes about two years to complete with nurse students choosing one area of concentration. To be eligible for admission in this nursing degree program, one must have completed a BSN and have some nursing clinical experience in their sleeves.
However, there are accelerated RN to MSN degree programs for RNs who want to become Advanced Practice nurse but do not have a BSN. Although quite uncommon, it is a great way for Associate of Science in nursing graduates to earn both the BSN and MSN in one study program.
The areas of specialty for MSN include psychiatry, nurse anesthetic, pediatrics, geriatrics, cardiology, holistic, occupational nursing among others.
iv) Doctor of Nursing Degree programs
This bracket of nursing education is categorized according to the choice of research orientation a student wishes to take. Nurse students must have completed their MSN postgraduate degree to be eligible for enrollment.
Usually, these degree programs take a minimum of four years to complete with intensive study on research methods, nursing philosophy, statistics and analysis in the nursing field.
The three doctorate degrees in nursing are Doctor of Nursing in Science, Education or Practice. Students who choose the practice option do more courses in research methods and clinical care while those who pick education will major on becoming tutors and medical instructors in educational settings. For the Science students, their courses will cover more on healthcare statistics and analysis, bioinformatics and clinical defense via research.
v) Other degree programs in the nursing stream
There are other degree programs that are not in the mainstream nursing but award students merits in nursing. Such include:
- RN to MSN nursing programs
- LPN to MSN
- LPN to BSN
In addition to nursing degree programs, there are numerous non-degree level nursing programs that enable students to be certified to practice in the field of nursing. Those include:
- Licensed Practice Nurse
- Certified Nurse Assistant