All states require that an individual must have a nursing degree from an approved educational institution and pass a licensing exam before being able to work as a nurse. Every state has its own particular requirements as well, and these may vary significantly, so a check of state regulations is necessary when planning an education in nursing, and it is no different for online nursing degrees.
To enter a nursing program, it is necessary to have finished high school or to have a GED. Prospective nursing students may enhance their chances of being accepted into accredited nursing schools if they take subjects like algebra, biology, chemistry, and physics in high school.
ABC's of Online Nursing Degrees
There are several kinds of nursing degrees. In addition to the Registered Nurse (RN) degree, there are the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocations Nurse (LVN) degree, and the Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN).
LPNs / LVNs usually get their degrees by training for one year at a hospital, graduating from a vocational-technical school, or by taking classes through a community college program. The ADN typically takes two years and can be obtained through a community college.
ADN programs train nurses for specific sets of clinical practice, while the course work covers both technical areas and nursing theory. Many ADNs ultimately return to school to get a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or other advanced degree.
The BSN requires four years at a traditional college or university]. It covers broad clinical practice areas, nursing theory, human development, psychology, chemistry, biology, and nutritional science. Nurses with BSNs may go on to obtain Master’s degrees or various specialty certifications, including Nurse Practitioner (NP) and Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS).
More Entry Points into a Nursing Career
Prospective students may also enroll in diploma programs, which are essentially work-study options still offered by a few hospitals in the United States. Diploma programs take about three years to complete. Many LPNs eventually become RNs via tuition-reimbursement programs offered by many hospitals. And there are accelerated RN degree programs available to prospective students who already have a Bachelor’s degree in areas other than nursing.
In addition to course work, students must also participate in supervised clinical experience programs. Such programs are usually completed in hospital departments, nursing care facilities, or ambulatory clinics. All RNs and LPNs must pass licensing examinations. These licensing exams – the NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN –
Become a CNA or CMA as Online Nursing Degrees Stepping Stone
Many nurses also enter the profession by starting out as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) which requires a short stint in schools and passing of a state regulated exam. The hands-on and clinical experience looks great on resumes, and bodes well for when applying for online nursing degrees.