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Nursing Adult Education: Overview of Nursing Career Education Programs

Your opportunities in the nursing field are only limited by how far you are willing to advance. You could work as a licensed practical nurse (LPN), registered nurse (RN), nurse practitioner (NP) or nursing administrator. Keep reading for an overview of nursing career education programs.

There are a multitude of schools throughout the country that provide certificate and degree programs in the field of nursing. No matter what area or category of nursing you pursue, you'll be required to pass the appropriate National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).

Schools and Programs

If you would like to enter this challenging and fast-growing field of nursing, or if you are already licensed as an LPN or RN, the key to advancing in your chosen career is education. Certificate programs are available for aspiring LPNs, while aspiring RNs can pursue an associate's degree. Current LPNs can enter an RN associate degree program at an advanced status (LPN-to-RN), which shortens the length of time to get a degree to become an RN. A bachelor's degree can help you become a nurse supervisor, while a master's degree may lead to a job as a nursing administrator or NP. Check out the info below for more information on four schools offering nursing programs.

Schools At a Glance

Cincinnati State Technical and Community College

  • Located in Cincinnati, OH, this is a 2-year public school.
  • The school offers an LPN-to-RN Progression program.

Northern Essex Community College

  • This 2-year public school is located in Haverhill, MA, north of Boston.
  • Advanced placement LPN-to-RN and ADN are day programs only.

Liberty University

  • This is a 4-year private school located in Lynchburg, VA.
  • The school offers on-campus and online programs leading to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

Alpena Community College

  • This is a 4-year, primarily associate's degree college located in Alpena, MI.
  • The school offers a 1-year LPN program and a 2-year associate's degree RN program.

Practical Nursing Program

An aspiring LPN must first complete a state-approved practical nursing program, many of which are offered by trade or vocational schools or as part of some high school curriculums. Students complete courses that may include anatomy and physiology, psychology, pharmacology, practical nursing issues and healthcare informatics. They also participate in several clinical experiences. After graduation, the candidate must pass a licensing exam known as the NCLEX-PN in order to work as an LPN.

Associate Degree in Nursing

This is the minimal amount of education you will need in order to earn your registered nurse (RN) license - you can either earn a two to three year associate's degree in nursing or a three-year hospital diploma program. This program may require prerequisite coursework in biology, pharmacology, nursing and mathematics.

Students learn about topics such as mental health nursing, family nursing, human growth and development and client care management. Clinical and lab experiences are required, and schools sometimes include a course for RN licensure preparation. After having completed your degree program, you will then need to pass the NCLEX-RN. LPNs who enroll in LPN-to-RN programs can generally skip or replace the foundational nursing courses involved in the associate degree.

Bachelor's Degree in Nursing (BSN)

If you wish to advance to a supervisory or case-manager RN position, you will need to earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). This degree will prepare you to practice in all different types of health care settings, and thus give you greater career flexibility, even at an entry level, than would an associate's degree. BSN programs are available in both traditional and accelerated formats, with the accelerated program for those possessing a bachelor's degree in another subject.

A BSN program covers many of the topics that an associate's program does, as well as advanced topics like pediatrics, nursing research, public health nursing, women's healthcare and genomics. Students usually participate in a practicum during their senior year, and they might also do a research project.

Master's Degree in Nursing

This degree will prepare you to work as a nurse practitioner or an advanced clinical nurse. As our aging population dictates an increasingly overburdened healthcare system, more and more healthcare functions are being performed by nurses, and of course many of these functions can only be performed by the most highly skilled, trained and experienced of nurses. As such, the nurse practitioner is a valued employee in the healthcare industry.

MSN programs are available with various majors and concentrations. Programs for aspiring NPs feature such majors as gerontology acute care, neonatal care, pediatric care, family care, emergency care and psychiatric care. There are also non-clinical programs in nursing education, healthcare administration and nursing informatics. Some examples of courses one might take in an MSN program include health policy, research, advanced practice and nursing informatics.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there will be faster than average job growth for both licensed practical nurses and registered nurses between 2014-2024, at a rate of 16%. In May 2016, the BLS reported that licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses were paid a median annual salary of $44,090, while registered nurses earned $68,450 a year. Nurse practitioners had a median salary of $100,910 at that time.

In addition to some 4-year schools, you'll be able to find LPN and associate's degree nursing programs offered through community colleges and technical schools. With some exceptions, bachelor's degree programs are generally offered on campus, while you may be able to find some master's degree nursing programs offered online.

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