Associates in Nursing: Degree Program Overviews
Learn about the prerequisites and curriculum for an associate's degree program in nursing. Find out about employment statistics, salary info, licensing requirements and continuing nurse education at the bachelor's and graduate levels.
Students who are interested in becoming a licensed registered nurse (RN) can begin their studies with an associate's degree program in nursing. These 2-year programs contain lecture courses, laboratory work and clinical experiences, and are readily available through community colleges, nursing schools and technical schools. Degree options include an Associate of Science in Nursing, Associate of Applied Science in Nursing or Associate Degree in Nursing. Graduates with any of these nursing degrees will be qualified to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN).
Admission to an associate's degree program in nursing might have numerous stipulations due to a limited number of openings. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED and commonly must meet a minimum grade point average. Some programs require students to be active Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) with several months of experience. Students also might be required to be certified in CPR, provide proof of specific immunizations, have a negative drug screen and pass a criminal background check.
Coursework in a nursing associate's degree program might contain general education requirements in addition to nursing courses. Students also might partake in nursing seminars and a practicum. Examples of courses include:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Nursing basics
- Pediatric nursing
- Clinical nursing
- Patient management
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of RNs was expected to increase 22% from 2008-2018 (www.bls.gov). This anticipated increase was due to technological improvements in patient care, which could allow for more treatment options, as well as a rise in the number of elderly people in need of nursing care. As of May 2010, the annual median salary for RNs was $64,690.
Licensure and Continuing Education Information
According to the BLS, those who wish to work as registered nurses in doctor's offices, hospitals or healthcare clinics must graduate from an accredited nursing program and pass the NCLEX-RN to obtain a license. Each state determines continuing education requirements for license maintenance.
Bachelor of Science programs in nursing can prepare students for supervisory roles in healthcare facilities. Master of Science programs typically offer areas of concentration, including nurse practitioner, certified registered nurse anesthetist, clinical nurse specialist or certified nurse midwife. Those who want to specialize in research and clinical functions may opt for a Doctor of Nursing Science program. Doctor of Nursing Practice programs can prepare nurses for leadership roles in clinical care and patient outcomes, research and system management.
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