Nursing is among the many careers that are in demand, and will continue to be for some time to come, so it’s no surprise that many people are opting for nursing degrees.
Registered nurses (or RNs) treat patients, record patients’ medical histories and symptoms, educate patients and the public regarding medical conditions, provide emotional support to patients’ families, help to perform diagnostic tests, administer treatments and medications, and help with patient follow-up.
The specific responsibilities of a nurse will vary from job to job. The duties and the title of an RN (registered nurse) are normally determined by the patient population or the work setting. An RN may specialize in one specific area or in more than one area of patient care. For nurses, there are a number of ways to specialize. An RN may work on a particular type of treatment or in a particular setting; like a perioperative nurse who assists surgeons in operating rooms. A nurse may specialize in a specific health condition such as diabetes management. Nurses can also specialize in working with a single or multiple body system type or organs, like a dermatology nurse. And there are nurses who specialize with well-defined populations, like pediatric nurses, who work with children. Opportunities to specialize are largely determined while on the job and are quite extensive.
There are three basic paths to becoming a registered nurse:
- Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN)
- Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN)
- Diploma in Nursing
Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees are offered by universities and colleges. They take 4 years to complete. ADNs are normally offered by community or junior colleges and can take 2 to 3 years to complete while diploma courses are normally administered within hospitals and take 3 years to complete. There are online courses available. Licensed graduates of any of the three nursing degrees are qualified for employment in entry-level positions of staff nurse.
People considering a career in nursing need to take time to think about the pros and cons of taking each type of nursing program. This is because opportunities for advancement may not be as numerous for ADNs and diploma holders as they are for those nurses who have a BSN degree or higher.
There are also nursing degrees which are aimed at people who are interested in switching over to a nursing career. For people who already have a BS degree in another field, they may enroll in an accelerated BSN program. Accelerated BSN courses take about a year to 18 months to complete. A Master’s Degree in Nursing is also available for people who have completed their BSN (accelerated or otherwise) and takes about two years to complete.
Students need to have successfully completed an approved nursing program and pass a licensure exam in all States, US territories, and the District of Columbia. Licensure is given after the successful completion of the National Council Licensure Examination or NCLEX-RN. There are other eligibility requirements for licensure depending on the State.
Employment opportunities for nurses are expected to keep growing as the demand for healthcare providers increases in line with the aging population.
We’ve compiled a list of the best nursing schools in Texas right here.