Nursing Degrees

The Advantages To Earning A Nursing Degree

A nursing degree gives students the knowledge, qualifications, and skills necessary to work within the quickly expanding health care system. The demand for professional nurses is expected to increase at a tremendous rate due to emerging technologies, medical advances, and an aging and expanding population. Individuals interested in pursuing lucrative and stable nursing careers begin with solid educational backgrounds in the field. Nursing degree programs give students a great understanding of nursing practices, patient care, and the health care system.

Many colleges and universities offer online degree programs to extend instruction beyond campus grounds. Most students managing job and family responsibilities in addition to obtaining a degree find online programs are the best means of expanding education. Most online courses feature nearly the same educational experiences, materials, and instruction as their on-campus counterparts. Online classes also offer the additional benefits of increased flexibility in course scheduling and 24 hour access to course materials. Online courses generally consist of groups of 25 students or less who have one on one interactions with other classmates and professors via Internet chats. Obtaining an online degree offers students personalized, affordable, and convenient means of increasing education necessary for personal and professional success.

What Students Learn Within Nursing Degree Programs

Nursing degree programs offer students a tremendous understanding of the nursing profession and health care system. Nursing programs combine theoretic knowledge in classroom settings with technical knowledge in clinical experiences to gain a fundamental understanding of the health care and medical systems. Many vocational schools, community colleges, and universities offer nursing programs in a variety of degree options from certificate programs to doctoral degrees. Students interested in nursing programs generally choose from a number of degree programs based upon the students’ career interest and desired employment upon graduation. Students frequently complete studies within a one year Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) program, two year Registered Nurse (RN) or Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) programs, and four year Bachelor of Science Nursing (BSN) or Registered Nurse (RN) programs. Nursing programs at graduate levels include Masters of Nursing (MSN), Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) or Nurse Practitioner (NP) programs. Graduates who seek qualifications as experts in the field complete studies within Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs.

Most states require graduates to complete the National Council Licensure Examination (NYCLEX) certification process to display knowledge and proficiency in: safe and effective care environments, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity, and physiological integrity before gaining licensing necessary for employment. Nurses are required complete a minimum of an associate’s degree to gain entry into the NYCLEX exams and advance to employment. Current employment trends indicate graduates who complete a minimum of a bachelor degree and gain licensure have an increased employability for higher paying nursing jobs in comparison to graduates with less training and education.

Many students begin their nursing education within associate degree programs to gain the basic skills and knowledge necessary for entry level careers. Courses within an associate of nursing degree program include: fundamentals of nursing, nursing pharmacology, introduction to clinical practice, interpersonal relations, communications, introduction to anatomy and physiology, nutrition for health care, English composition, developmental psychology, human development and growth, maternal-child nursing, nursing the mentally ill, nursing health promotions, nursing ethics and law, effective speaking, nursing clinical care across the lifespan, introduction to clinical care management, foundations of speech communications, advanced anatomy and physiology, introduction to psychology, general microbiology, psychology of human introduction to sociology, complex health alterations, advanced nursing skills, contemporary American society, social psychology, management and professional nursing concepts, social problems, and a clinical experience. Graduates who complete studies within associate degree programs may go on to licensing procedures and employment as LPNs and other health care workers. Some graduates may advance studies to higher degree programs.

Bachelor level courses offer students specialized training and a greater understanding of the nursing discipline, health care system, and medical professions. Courses within a RN bachelor degree program include: introduction to chemistry, human anatomy and physiology, issues and trends in nursing, information management in nursing and health care, the context of health care delivery, chemical principles, research and scholarship for evidence based practice, experimental chemistry, concepts in nursing practices, health assessment, introductory principles of nutrition, topics in clinical nursing, public and global health, pathopharmacology, human development and family studies, psychology, elementary statistics, elementary microbiology, social problems, introduction to illness, nursing practices and process, nursing care of children and adolescents, nursing care of young adults, nursing care of client through the adult life span requiring medical intervention, mental health nursing, introduction to nursing research, nursing the elderly, introduction to nursing informatics, transistion and the professional nursing role, family health concepts for adults with complex health care needs, family and community health concepts, nursing in specialized settings, nursing practicum, and famiy, community, and population based care. Many graduates who complete RN programs advance to employment upon gaining licensure. Some graduates choose to advance studies within master’s degree programs.

Master’s degree programs offer students the ability to gain managerial and specialized skills necessary to advance their career or expand educational goals. Master’s degree courses within MSN programs include: data management for nurse managers, organization and administration for the nurse manager, theoretical foundations for advanced nursing, contemporary delivery of health care, nursing ethics, professional relationships in advanced nursing roles, evidence based practice, curriculum development, pathophysiology, teaching and learning strategies, nursing leadership development, assessment of student learning and evaluation, communication and relationship management, nurse management human resources, information and quality management, ethical challenges in health care informatics, and seminar for nurse managers. Graduates who complete studies within master’s degree programs and required licensure gain employment as supervisors or other administrative positions. Some graduates continue to doctoral degree programs to complete studies as experts in the field.

Doctoral degree programs offer students the specialized knowledge, industry based research, and theoretical training necessary to be considered experts in the field. Courses within a DNP program include: quantitative methods in health research, advanced quantitative research, foundations of inquiry for health research, science of nursing, foundations of inquiry for health research, measurement in health research, advanced statistics, multivariate analysis statistics, issues in scholarship, theories and research in chronic illness, analysis of nursing phenomena, practicum in nursing research, health policy, and management of health data. Graduates with doctoral degrees who complete required licensing generally advance to research, instructor, or administrative positions within various health care organizations and educational institutions.

Graduates from nursing degree programs often supplement their education by specializing in certificate programs. Students generally choose one or several of the following certifications: ambulatory care, advanced practice, burn care, camp, cardiac, cardiac catheter laboratory, community health, critical care,, corrections,, emergency care, environmental health, faith community, flight, forensic, gastroenterology, genetics, health visiting, home health, hospic, hyperbaric, immunology and allergy, intravenous therapy, infection control, infectios disease, legal, maternal-child, medical-surgical, neurosurgical, nursing informatics, management, obstetrical, occupational health, oncology, orthopedic, ostomy, palliative care, pediatric, perianesthsia,, perioperative, private duty, psychiatric, mental health, public health, pulmonary, quality improvement, radiology, rehabilitation, renal, school nursing, sub-acute, substance abuse, surgical, telenursing, telephone triage, transplantation, trauma, urology, utilization management, and wound care nursing programs.

Prospective Jobs For Nursing Degree Graduates

Graduates with nursing degrees build the educational foundation necessary for a variety of careers, Employment for graduates is based upon factors like level of education, area/s of speciality, certification and licensing, and related work or volunteer experiences. Graduates who complete advanced degree programs, meet licensing requirements, and gain on the job training generally have an increased employability in comparison to graduates with less education and experience. Graduates who complete associate LPN degree programs may work as licensed practical nurses, medical assistants, or nurse’s aides. Graduates who complete bachelor level RN programs generally qualify for registered nurse positions and often supervisory or administrative nursing positions as head nurses. Graduates who complete master’s degree programs may work as nurse supervisors, instructors within vocational schools or community colleges, and with additional training, health care administrators. Graduates who complete doctoral degree programs may work as chief administrators of nursing departments, executive officers, researchers, or instructors within health care facilities, colleges, or universities.

Salary Range For Nursing Degree Graduates

Graduates who complete nursing degree programs have varied earnings with the potential to establish lucrative careers. Salaries for nursing degree graduates are dependent upon level of education, area/s of specialty, licensure, geographic location, organization of employment, and related work experience. Graduates who complete advanced degree programs and increase skills within continuing education and specialization programs generally have higher earnings and jobs with greater responsibilities in comparison to graduates with less education. Additionally, nursing degree graduates within urban areas have higher earnings than graduates in more rural areas. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports average earnings for registered nurses range from $51,640 to $76,570 annually. In addition to earning salaries, most nurses receive added incentives and benefits including: continuing education reimbursement, performance based incentives, flexible work schedules, and childcare benefits. Graduates who complete associate degree programs and advance to jobs as licensed practical nurses earn $33,360 to $46,710 annually. Graduates who work as registered nurses after completing bachelor degree programs and work within hospitals, physician’s offices, home health care organizations, and nursing homes earn $57,060 to $63,880 annually. Graduates with master’s degrees who work as nursing supervisors or health care administrators earn $62,170 to $104,120 annually. Doctoral degree gaduates who work within universities as instructors or as top executives within health care organizations earn $67,717 to $121,800 annually.

Career Outlook and Advancement Opportunities For Nursing Degree Graduates

Graduates who complete nursing degree programs are expected to find long term, stable career options in the foreseeable future. As the health care industry expands, technology changes, and advances are made in medical fields, the demand for qualified health care professionals and nurses is expected to increase tremendously. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports job growth for nurses to increase by 22 percent at a much faster than average rate in comparison to other occupations. As many health care organizations and facilities have difficulty finding and retaining staff, graduates who complete their RN, gain licensure, complete on the job training, and specialize training are predicted to find increased employability. Additionally, graduates will find the best employment options in physician’s offices, nursing homes, and home health care organizations as job growth within hospitals will be slow in comparison to other medical facilities.

Nursing degree graduates generally begin employment within entry level nursing jobs and advance to positions with increased salaries and greater responsibilities upon gaining experience and displaying proficiency in the field. Most graduates with advanced degrees who begin employment within managerial or administrative positions as assistant managers or nurse supervisors advance to upper level administrative positions upon continuing education and gaining experience. Many nurses also specialize training to advance to clinical nurse specialist positions to offer consultations and direct patient care. More experienced nurses may advance to business, administrative, or teaching positions within health care organizations, insurance companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, managed care organizations, larger hospitals, policy development companies, consulting businesses, marketing firms, research firms, or colleges and universities.

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