How to Get Started in Nursing Part 3
4 - Associates Degree in Nursing (ASN/ADN)3
An Associates Degree in Nursing trains and prepares nurses to provide direct patient care in settings such as hospitals or rehabilitation centers. Earning an ASN/ADN, whether through an online college or on-campus, is an excellent first step into nursing. An ASN/ADN provides an opportunity for you to quickly gain experience with direct patient care. Many students use their ASN/ADN as a stepping-stone towards earning their BSN or even a Masters in Nursing later on. Earning an ASN/ADN allows you to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).4 Once you pass the NCLEX-RN test, you are considered a Registered Nurse (RN).
5 - Bachelors of Science Nursing (BS/BSN):5
A BS/BSN is a 4-year degree that can be earned throughas well as at on-campus settings. BS/BSN programs usually require more training in the physical and social sciences, advanced communication skills, leadership ability, and more critical thinking than an associates degree. A Registered Nurse who holds a Bachelors Degree in Nursing generally has a greater opportunity for advancement compared to other types of RNs. Additionally, many nursing positions that previously did not require a BSN now do. Furthermore, if you are interested in moving your nursing career towards administrative positions, research, consulting, or teaching – earning your Bachelors in Nursing is the way to go.
When you earn your BS/BSN, you are able to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Passing this test allows you to practice as a Registered Nurse (RN).
Accelerated BSN or Nursing As a Second Career:
If you are considering switching your career into nursing, but have already earned your degree in another field, you are in luck. You can enroll in an acceleratedthat allows you to bridge your current degree into nursing without repeating course work you’ve already taken. Typically accelerated programs are just that – faster. Building on course work you’ve already taken, or prerequisite courses you’ve taken through online course providers, you can earn your BSN in a shorter amount of time than it would take if you were starting from scratch. You can earn an accelerated BSN through online colleges and universities as well as through on-campus programs.
Make Connections Now
As you research the variety of nursing programs out there, whether online or on-campus, it’s a good idea to start making connections in the nursing field now. The more familiar you are with, career options, and the issues facing the nursing field today, the better equipped you will be to enter the field.
Here are a few suggestions:
Volunteer: Whether at the hospital nearest you or a doctor’s office, you can get a sense of the reality of nursing. To search for hospitals where you can volunteer, check out the Hospital Connect search engine.
Participate in a Nursing Organization: You can stay a step ahead of what’s going on in the nursing field by following the latest trends on the National Nursing Association website, or by subscribing to newsletters and publications of the various programs which serve nurses:
- American Nurses Association
- Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses
- National Student Nurses' Association
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, How to Become a Registered Nurse, p.1
4 The Campaign for Nursing’s Future, Starting Out, p.1
5 Bureau of Labor Statistics, How to Become a Registered Nurse, p.1