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Nursing Degrees: Continuing to be in Demand

Nursing is a healthcare profession that deals with providing care for individuals recovering from illness or injury. One of the oldest medical professions, nursing continues to be very in-demand today. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) website, there were 2,737,400 registered nurses (RN) employed in 2010 and future trends indicate a 26% increase by 2020.  Sub-disciplines particularly licensed practical nurses (LPN) may also experience similarly promising job outlooks — BLS reports that as of 2010, 752,300 LPNs were employed, and through 2020, this number is expected to increase by 22%.

Considering the bright employment prospects of the nursing profession, it’s no wonder nursing degrees remain one of the most popular degrees pursued by students in the United States. In a 2011 survey, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing ((AACN) found that the number of enrollments in all nursing programs leading to the baccalaureate degree is 259,100, an improved figure compared to 238,799 in 2010.

Program Options

Before we discuss the education programs related to the field of nursing, it’s important to note the different types of nursing licenses. These are:

  1. Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)/Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) – they work under the supervision of registered nurses and typically perform routine patient care only
  2. Registered Nurses (RN) – they play a larger role in patient care including performing diagnostic examinations, administer medicines, and operating medical equipment
  3. Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) – they are registered nurses who have undergone additional training in a specialized area; the four types of APRNs are clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners.

Nursing degree programs are usually offered by colleges, universities, and nursing schools in different levels. For nursing graduates, the type of nursing license they will earn in the future generally depends on the level of nursing training they have completed and any licensure exams required by your state. Below is a list of differing degrees granted:

  • Diploma in Nursing, 1 year. Sometimes referred to as certificate programs, this degree prepares students to become LPNs, LVNs, or nursing assistants.
  • Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), 2 years. An ADN program is the minimum requirement for becoming a registered nurse.
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), 4 years. BSN-level graduates can pursue careers as registered nurses or apply for a nursing administrative position. Also, they can use their BSN degrees to become ARPNs, or pursue master’s or doctorate degrees.
  • Master of Science in Nursing. A master’s degree may prepare graduates in becoming ARPNs (particularly as clinical nurse specialists or nurse practitioners), nursing instructors, or nursing managers (or healthcare administrators).
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). DNP programs prepare nurses in providing specialized and advanced care to patients.
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). PhD graduates in nursing usually do research-based work in healthcare practices.

Perhaps one of the reasons that nursing degrees continue to be popular is flexibility. Those who want to gain immediate entry-level positions in the field of nursing can easily take a relatively short diploma program or an ADN. While those with bigger aspirations or willingness to invest in 4 years of college education may complete a BSN degree, which would certainly give graduates a wide range of career possibilities especially as RNs, ARPNs, nursing managers, or nursing instructors.

It would appear given, the broad nature of nursing programs graduates have many options for specializations. Nurses with specialized skills would certainly occupy a distinct niche in the healthcare job market, and possibly attract better and more lucrative career opportunities. 

Explore accredited nursing degrees now and find out which accredited schools near you are offering nursing programs. Simply use the search box located on the top-left hand side of this page.