Planning Your Path To Nursing
by Stephanie Thibeault
The nursing profession is diverse and rewarding, offering an unlimited variety of practice options to fit your personal goals, career objectives, and lifestyle. One of the top 10 growth sectors for the coming decade, the career outlook for nursing is excellent and jobs are plentiful. Advanced education and training opportunities have increased the scope of nursing practice and are redefining the field. Qualified nurses are in demand and can look forward to a challenging and uniquely satisfying professional career.
So, how do you get there? What is the best path to becoming a nurse? When researching nursing programs, you will find there are many options to available to suit your circumstances. The first thing to look at is the level of licensure you want to obtain.
There are two licensing designations that enable you to practice as a nurse - LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) and RN (Registered Nurse). LPN programs are shorter in duration (typically 10 months to a year), while RN programs take 2 to 4 years. The difference between the two designations is in the scope of practice and duties. RN's are able to take on more responsibility and may supervise LPNs. RN's also have increased earnings potential and a higher starting salary. One more thing to keep in mind - there have been attempts to raise the educational requirements for an RN license to a bachelor's degree. If this happens, RN licensure will require a 4-year degree.
Some additional items to factor into your decision include:
Once you have narrowed your focus to LPN or RN, and have evaluated your personal circumstances, you can begin to research schools in your area. With an understanding of your career goals and lifestyle flexibility, you will be able to plan a solid path to nursing, making choices that work for you and fit your needs.
Stephanie Thibeault is the publisher and editor of The Student Nurse Advisor, a monthly e-zine for nursing students. She is also the webmaster of The Student Nurse Forum, an interactive support site for those interested in the nursing profession, offering educational and career planning guidance, study aids and resources, best practice initiatives and medical news, an online community (message boards, chat, nursing instant messenger service), a monthly e-zine, leadership and mentoring opportunities, humor and more. Currently pursuing a BSN, Stephanie plans to specialize in hospice care. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.