ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Pursuing a Nursing Career: Requirements, Options and Job Prospects

Updated on March 19, 2015
Individuals interested in a nursing career can pursue a number of different specialties.
Individuals interested in a nursing career can pursue a number of different specialties. | Source

Anyone pursuing a career in the field of nursing soon discovers that it is a challenging job, but also one that provides a wide range of interesting and well-paying career options. As with any other type of work, the outlook for nursing jobs is constantly changing due to factors like politics and the economy. However, these are some general principles to keep in mind.

Education

The educational requirements to obtain a degree in nursing will vary depending on the exact type of degree and the requirements of the state in which you attend school. Usually nursing students will study such subjects as science, clinical nursing, quantitative methods and the like.

To become a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN) you will be required to complete a one-year educational program that includes both lectures and hand-on clinical training. However, if you want to become a registered nurse (RN) you will have to earn at least an Associate Degree in Nursing. An RN can also have a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Once finished with the nursing program, you will be able to take the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX-RN) to become a registered nurse.

Earning a Master's of Science in Nursing (MSN) requires you to have first earned a bachelor's degree in nursing or a similar field. An MSN degree is required for anyone who wants to work as an advanced practice nurse (APN).

If you would like to become a mid-level provider such as a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) or nurse practitioner (NP), you must earn a specialized master's degree. Most programs for these degrees take between one to two years to complete and are designed for those who are currently working as a nurse.

The highest level of education for nursing is a doctorate degree. Once a person has obtained both a bachelor and master's degree, they can then study for a doctorate in nursing. There are two different doctorate nursing degrees: a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and a Doctor of Nursing Science (DNS).

Once a nurse has their degree and has passed the NCLEX-RN exam, they will be required to meet continuing education requirements. Again, these requirements are different for each state and type of nursing degree.

A nurse's educational requirements will vary somewhat depending on the specialization they pursue.
A nurse's educational requirements will vary somewhat depending on the specialization they pursue. | Source

Nursing Specialties

A nursing education and license gives you the opportunity to purse a wide variety of different career specialties. A few of these possible specialties include:

  • A Gerontological Nurse Practitioner (GNP) must have an advanced degree with an emphasis on geriatrics. These nurses are trained to treat and manage patients who have long-term and debilitative conditions.
  • A certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNA) is trained to give patients anesthesia. These nurses work with surgeons, dentists, anesthesiologists and more.
  • A nurse practitioner (NP) has been trained to be a primary and specialty care provider. Nurse practitioners provide preventive health care and commonly work in areas that lack medical resources.

There will be some overlap, as well as significant variation, from one nursing specialization to another.
There will be some overlap, as well as significant variation, from one nursing specialization to another. | Source

Considerations

People who want to become an LPN or LVN should understand that they will be working under the close supervision of a physician or RN. They are trained in all aspects of patient care, but their educational requirements are less than those of an RN.

An RN will be responsible for performing detailed physical evaluations as well as gathering in-depth information about a patient's history and medical needs. They will also supervise LPNs and other health care team members.

A nurse with a Master's degree can become an advanced practical nurse (APN). An APN works closely with a physician and can provide treatment levels similar to a doctor. Many APNs function as a patient's primary health care provider.

Individuals with a Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) will work in various clinical areas of the nursing profession. A Doctor of Nursing Science (DNS) is usually obtained by those who want to do research or be a professor at a nursing program.

Few nurses enter their profession for its income potential, but rather for the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.
Few nurses enter their profession for its income potential, but rather for the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others. | Source

Income Prospects

According to the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, the median pay for an LPN is about $40,380 or $19.42 an hour. It also reports pay for an RN as well as NP and other nurse careers as $64.690 or $31.10 an hour.

While few individuals pursue a nursing career solely for its monetary incentives, choosing instead to be motivated by the opportunity to help others, it cannot be denied that the field can be quite rewarding financially. Of course, nurses put in long hours of extraordinarily stressful and exhausting work to earn that income. Regardless, with the demand for trained nurses continuing to increase, it appears that this opportunity will not go away anytime soon.

Do you feel that nurses are underpaid considering their exhausting, high-pressure jobs?

See results

What is your advice for individuals interested in pursuing a career in nursing?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)