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Nurse Career Information & Profiles

“How do you become a licensed practical nurse (LPN)?” and “What education is necessary to be a nurse practitioner (NP)?” are common questions of those who are interested in entering nurse careers. The nursing profession is made up of all sorts of career levels, and each of them requires a minimum level of education in order to cover a specific set of nurse duties. Whether you’ve been in your current role for years or you're just hoping to break into the nursing field, here you’ll find detailed salary and job information for each of the levels of nursing.

Do you faint at the sight of blood or are you a full-fledged trauma junkie? Do you love working with kids or prefer to spend time with older patients? Do you want to focus on wellness and disease prevention or assist patients who are acutely ill? No matter what your answers to these questions, there's a nursing career path that fits your goals. Nurses are needed at all levels of health care, in a range of diverse settings.

Licensed practical nurses are responsible for much of the basic care patients receive, whether it's taking vital signs during an office visit or helping with bathing for a hospital patient. LPNs typically work under the supervision of more experienced registered nurses and doctors, but with experience, they may move into positions supervising other LPNs or medical staff such as assistants. Typically, you must graduate from an accepted program, which lasts about one year, and pass the NCLEX-PN exam to become licensed.

Registered nurses can earn either an associate degree, bachelor's degree or, less commonly, a diploma from a hospital-based program. Upon graduation, you must pass the NCEX-RN before being work as a licensed registered nurse. Registered nurses provide more advanced patient care, such as taking medical histories, developing a nursing plan and performing certain diagnostic tests. Registered nurses may also work more independently in settings such as schools or camps, providing primary treatment for minor illnesses and injuries.

At the graduate level, nurses who hold a BSN may move up by earning a Master of Science in Nursing, or MSN. An MSN can allow you to move into advanced roles in administration or management or prepare you to become an advanced practice nurse such as a nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, clinical nurse specialist or nurse anesthetist. Duties of advanced practice nurses vary depending on specialty and state regulations, but often they have the ability to practice more independently and may be able to prescribe medication.

Finally, a doctor or nursing practice, or DNP is available. This degree trains nurses to work as nurse educators or clinicians at the highest levels. Nurses can also earn a Ph.D. in nursing, which brings a more academic focus to the field and may be the preferred degree for nurses who wish to work in research.

Whether you're looking for a nursing degree program that provides a quick entry into the workforce or are seeking further training to move into a more advanced position, nursing can offer opportunities at every level.

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