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Nursing School: Key to One of the Fastest-Growing Professions

By Peterson's Staff updated on Monday, January 28, 2013

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 2 million jobs for nurses, and the profession is one of the top ten occupations expected to offer the largest amount of new jobs in the coming years. If, like many prospective college students, you're thinking about finding a career where you are helping people, then nursing can fulfill that goal. With so many job opportunities forecast through 2012, you'll have an excellent chance at being gainfully employed when you complete your studies. Obviously, nursing school and a nursing program are keys to your entrance into the field.

Factors in job growth
There are several factors contributing to the need for nurses. First, the current nursing population is aging. Many nurses are reaching the age of retirement, and hospitals and other healthcare institutions can't find replacements fast enough. Secondly, the largest generation in U.S. history is getting older. The baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are aging and the subsequent need for trained health professionals has increased. Lastly, healthcare delivery is shifting away from physician care to nursing care. If you've been to the emergency room for stitches lately, more than likely you were sewn up by a nurse practitioner.

These dramatic shifts in the healthcare industry benefit skilled nurses with bachelor's and master's degrees. If you think that a nursing career is right for you, joining this group of in-demand professionals starts by getting a nursing education! The first thing you need to decide is what level of education (and pay) you’d like to reach.

Licensed practical nurses at nursing school

Also known as licensed vocational nurses in some states, LPNs go through a year of training at a hospital, vocational school, or community college. Once you've passed your state licensing exam, you’ll most likely work under the supervision of a registered nurse and will have a limited amount of responsibility.

Registered nurses need nursing school

Registered nurses generally have more responsibility and higher wages than licensed practical nurses, but becoming one requires more time in nursing school. You can work as an RN by earning one of the following:

  • A diploma: A diploma nurse goes through about 3 years of training through a hospital. This type of program is decreasing in popularity as hospitals and other healthcare institutions seek college-educated nurses.
  • An associate degree: Nursing students who take this route focus more on technical skills than nursing theory, and it is often the first step to acquiring a BSN. With this nursing program, you earn your degree in two years and begin practicing as an RN as soon as you pass your state board examination.
  • A bachelor's degree: You'll see this most often referred to as the BSN, and you'll also find that this is the pedigree for all RNs. If you take a look through the job listings of your newspaper, you'll see that most RN positions are now requiring candidates to have a BSN. Although it takes 4 years to complete at a nursing college, this degree will open more doors for job advancement, as well as more money!

Advanced nursing opportunities
Once you earn a BSN in nursing from a school of nursing, your career is certain to take off. You can advance to become a nurse practitioner, earn a master's in nursing that can lead to many managerial and administrative positions, or specialize in critical care -- a highly respected career in nursing.

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to break into the field, and nursing schools can be your best ally. Good luck as you start on the road to success in your new career!

About the Author

Peterson's has more than 40 years of experience in higher education, and the expert staff members here are all ready to leverage their considerable knowledge and experience to help you succeed on your educational journey. We have the information, the know-how, and the tools -- now all we need is you!

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