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If you want to become a nurse, you have several options to get you there. The option you choose will depend upon your particular situation. Before choosing your path, you’ll want to consider your current financial situation and your long-term career goals. Depending on what you want to do, you may decide on an associate, bachelor, or master’s degree in nursing.

Becoming a Registered Nurse (RN)

In order to be an RN, you must have at least an associate level degree. If you continue to higher education, you can get your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, or a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). Likewise, you can move on to doctorate programs. As the level of education increases, so does your opportunity for more complex, specialized, and higher paying jobs. Higher degrees will also qualify you for leadership roles within organizations.

A traditional path

Many students out of high school who are considering getting a nursing degree enroll in school and obtain a BSN right away. Then, depending on their career goals, they move on to graduate school. This allows you to enter the workforce with a solid education under your belt and begin your career at a higher level than just an RN. This works great for students who are financially prepared to enter a four-year college and work towards a degree.

A more gradual and vocational path

The traditional path mentioned above is great for students who plan to go right to college out of high school. However, that path is definitely not one-size-fits-all. There are some who enter nursing as a second career, or those who simply cannot leave the work force for four years to complete a bachelor degree. In these cases, this more vocational path might fit.

  • LPN or LVN: LPN stands for Licensed Practical Nursing. LVN Stands for Licensed Vocational Nursing. This is a fast-paced program that is often offered at a community college, a local hospital or a vocational school. The program usually takes about a year to complete, after which you can take a state exam and enter the workforce as a nurse and continue your education.
  • After you are an LPN or an LVN, you can take an accelerated course in order to get an associate degree in nursing. These are called LPN-to-Associate degrees.
  • If you are wanting to eventually get your bachelor degree, you can also take an LPN-to-Bachelor program. This typically allows you to take classes part time and eventually earn your BSN.

This path can allow you to enter the workforce as a nurse very quickly and then gradually increase your education as you move along in your career.

Regardless of which path you take, nursing degrees are in high demand and will continue to be in high demand for the next few decades. In some areas, nursing shortages have caused hospitals to actively recruit nurses with signing bonuses and other incentives. It’s a great career choice, that includes options that enhance your flexibility in how you obtain the degree.

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