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Researching any school or degree program can be time consuming and confusing at times. It can be difficult to figure out precisely what degree program you need to accomplish your career goals. Nursing is no different. In fact, sometimes it can seem more complex. When looking at nursing degrees, acronyms and terms that may be unfamiliar to you are bandied about quite a lot. There are many different types of nursing degrees, as well as level of degrees, mainly because there are specific types of nursing careers. We hope that some of the information below can help you direct your college search and determine which degree program works best for you.

Levels of Nursing Degrees:

If you have been researching degrees, you've likely come across the acronyms MSN, BSN and ASN. This refers to the level of degree you are obtaining:

  • ASN - Associate of Science in Nursing: As with associate degrees in other fields, this is a two-year degree program designed to give you some entry level skill in nursing. While this degree can help you start a career in nursing, a bachelor level degree is highly recommended. Many students pursue an associate level degree continue their education while practicing as a nurse until they have a bachelor or graduate degree in the field. It is becoming common that many positions, even entry-level ones, are requiring at least a bachelor's degree.
  • BSN - Bachelor of Science in Nursing: An undergraduate degree in nursing will open the door to several nursing professions. With your BSN, you can get a general nursing degree or you can focus your degree on a particular specialty, such as a prenatal nurse, or intensive care nurse.
  • MSN - Master of Science in Nursing: This graduate degree can help you land more senior roles as a nurse. Depending on your focus, it can help you land an administrator role or a leadership position. It is also the minimum requirement for becoming a nurse practitioner.
  • DNP- Doctor of Nursing Practice: This is a doctorate level degree. There is a growing trend that requires nurse practitioners to have a DNP in order to practice.

Types of Nurses:

The nursing profession touches all aspects of medicine, and so it should be no surprise that there are many different kinds of nurses. Before you choose a nursing program, it is important to determine if you want to have a specialization. Here are some examples of types of nurses:

  • RN - Registered Nurse: Registered nurses have either an ASN or BSN in nursing. A registered nurse is often seen in a hospital or doctor's office.
  • LPN - Licensed Practical Nurse: A licensed practical nurse works under the supervision of an RN. Typically, this position requires a practical nursing diploma.
  • NP - Nurse Practitioner: Quite often if you go to a doctor's office or clinic with a mild illness or injury to see a "doctor," you are actually seeing a nurse practitioner. A nurse practitioner can diagnose injuries and diseases, prescribe medication and recommend and initiate a treatment plan.
  • ICU Registered Nurse: Nurses trained to work in intensive care units in hospitals. They are also referred to as "critical care nurses."

These are just a few examples of different specializations within the nursing field. If you are considering nursing as your career, it is highly recommended that you do some research to discover what specializations you are most interested in.

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