Updated: Jun 2, 2021
There are many different levels of nursing degrees and credentials, many specialties and job titles under each umbrella, but today we will touch on the peripheral of the major levels of nursing in this post. There is a precise path and various nurse education requirements you’ll need to meet to pursue the position you have your sights set on.
So how is an aspiring nurse supposed to navigate this path? Don’t be intimidated by the many credentials you’ve come across. When it all comes down to it, the nursing hierarchy isn’t as confusing as it may seem and that is why we are here to render all forms of assistance you might need on this journey. Without further ado, we dive into the various levels of nursing by starting with the Certified Nursing Assistant.
Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
A Certified Nursing Assistant or CNA as we do call it aids patients with the daily activities of daily living and a host of healthcare needs. This is mostly done under the supervision of a Registered Nurse or a Licensed Practical Nurse. Certified Nursing Assistants are commonly referred to as a Nursing Assistant, Patient Care Assistant or Nurse’s Aid.
Some individuals will use their knowledge as a CNA to bridge the gap to further their career and become an LPN or RN. Interestingly, a large number of CNAs are already in a nursing school program and use this career as a chance to learn more about the healthcare world while gaining additional real world experience and knowledge.
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) is a licensed nurse that has completed abbreviated education and clinical hours of instruction. An LVN/LPN will work under the supervision of a physician or Registered Nurse.
When you compare the careers and education of a Licensed practical nurse and a registered nurse, you will notice that they have fairly little in common in terms of job tasks, educational paths and salary ranges.
Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN)
The Associate's degree in Nursing, or ADN as popularly called is a 2-year degree and is the minimum amount of schooling required to become licensed as a Registered Nurse. Once the student graduates, he or she is eligible to take the NCLEX-RN examination which must be passed to become licensed by the State. It is of great importance to note that there are many educational paths to becoming a professional nurse, An Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) will give you a solid foundation for a career in healthcare.
Bachelor of science in Nursing (BSN)
Bachelor of Science in Nursing popularly called BSN is a degree that prepares graduates solely for the purpose of furthering their careers in the nursing world. Having a Bachelor of science in Nursing guarantees more opportunities and a better salary than an associate degree as this degree prepares nurses for a wide variety of professional roles.
Master of science in Nursing (MSN)
A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is an advanced, post-graduate degree that prepares you with the skills and training nurse leaders need to succeed. If you've completed a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, you can pursue an MSN program in a wide range of clinical and non-clinical areas of specialization
Moving from a BSN to an MSN program is a common educational path for nurses who want to pursue advanced roles in areas such as specialized clinical practice, administration, and education. While the benefits of an MSN degree include increased career opportunities and income, it’s an accomplishment that requires significant time, effort, and expense.
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
Nurses obtain a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) to gain advanced practice knowledge to provide safe and effective care for patients. This is a terminal degree for advanced practice nurses to continue to expand their knowledge which will generally include evidence-based research and teaching.
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