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Understanding the Different Types of Nursing Degrees

January 22, 2024

The field of nursing has proven to be one of the promising healthcare careers, and nursing degrees are an excellent stepping stone to begin your nursing career. Having become increasingly popular through the years, nursing education is where people equip themselves with enough skills to eventually get the best possible career opportunities and thrive as medical professionals leading the way in patient care, emergency procedures, and health promotion, among other tasks that those in the nursing field are known for.

In this article, we will discuss the ways to get a nursing degree, the type of program in nursing that you must take up, as well as how to get into the nursing profession even if you have a different degree. We will also tackle the different types of nursing professions, from being a nursing assistant to a nurse anesthetist to a clinical nurse specialist, and the clinical roles of nurses - their daily activities, their involvement in basic care, emergency care, and critical care, among others.

What are the Different Types of Nursing Degrees?

There are many career options in the field of nursing, and for the next generation of nurses who want to thrive personally and professionally, they must get into a good nursing program and obtain a nursing degree. So, after getting your high school diploma, you're now given the chance to earn a degree in nursing. However, if you already have a different degree than nursing and want a career shift, then there are also steps you can take to achieve that.

1) Bachelor's degree

The most common type of nursing degree, the BSN program (Bachelor of Science in Nursing), is awarded to students who complete a four-year program that includes coursework in anatomy, physiology and pathophysiology, pharmacology and other sciences.

After obtaining your bachelor's degree, you must take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination and apply for licensure as a nurse. When you complete this, you can now get a graduate degree, especially if you want to learn more, specialize in a certain field in nursing, or have better job opportunities.

2) Master's degree

After getting an RN license, you can further your studies and get into a master’s program, which takes an additional year or two beyond the baccalaureate and allows you to specialize in an area such as administration or research; it also prepares you for doctoral work if you choose to pursue it later. For instance, BSN graduates can apply for, fulfill the requirements, and get into an MSN program, which is one of the many types of master's degrees in nursing that they can take up.

3) Doctoral degree

To become an expert nurse leader who works with patients at different levels of care — from newborns to seniors —you'll need to earn your doctorate in nursing practice (DNP). This takes about three years beyond your master's for a total of seven years of schooling before becoming licensed as a DNP. While becoming a doctor of nursing is promising when it comes to increasing your annual salary, it can entail more work-based stress, so you must be ready to take on bigger roles than you've had before.

4) Certificate/Diploma Programs

If you didn't graduate with a nursing degree, there are certificate programs that are sometimes offered at community colleges or online schools that will be helpful for you. As another way for aspiring nurses to begin their careers, nursing hopefuls can acquire a nursing certificate while they're still working toward their bachelor's or master’s degrees.

These certificates typically involve graduate-level coursework related directly back to areas like pediatrics or geriatrics in order for students to gain working knowledge on the said specializations.

5) Associate degrees

Associate degrees in nursing (ADN) can be earned in two years, compared to a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), which takes four years to complete. If you decide to pursue the master's level, it takes one additional year beyond either an ADN or BSN to earn your master of science in nursing (MSN).

Most students who want to become nurses will pursue a BSN degree as part of their career plan over time as they gain experience. However, if you're looking for a part-time nursing job while working another job, an ADN may be right for you.

A list summarizing the different types of nursing degrees.

Degrees in Nursing: How Do They Compare?

Nursing school can be quite difficult, as it's both physically and mentally taxing. It's much more challenging than other degrees because your sleeping and eating schedules are altered, your shift assignment may take place on holidays, and you must always be ready for emergencies. But if you have the passion and drive to become a nurse, then you'll be able to succeed in nursing school.

The main reason why some students don't succeed in nursing school is that they might lack passion or motivation for it. Nursing requires a lot of psychological, physical, and emotional resilience, so if you're up for the challenge and you have a strong will to help people who are facing all sorts of problems regarding their health, then nursing might be the right career for you.

It counts to take note of these when comparing nursing schools you want to choose from or the difficulty of the curriculum:

Nurses talking about a patient's care plan.

Read More: What Are The Steps For Getting Into Nursing School In Canada?

Are There Many Types of Bachelor's Degrees in Nursing (BS)?

Should you be a nurse midwife? Can you be a nurse educator? How do you become a registered nurse? When can you become a certified nursing assistant? There are many questions regarding niches in nursing, and it can be hard to determine what kind of nurse you will be. But you have to start somewhere, and the best way to do so is to get a  bachelor's degree in nursing. Especially if you want to get an active RN license and get into clinical practice, taking up a nursing degree is key.

Typically, a bachelor's degree in nursing is just general or broad - there are no specializations yet, like psychiatric or surgical nursing. But don't worry if you want to specialize in a certain subfield - you can choose the institution that either specializes in your chosen subfield or has the most programs in their curriculum so as to cover most types of specializations.

What are the Types of Master’s Degrees in Nursing?

Your career doesn't stop at obtaining an RN licensure. You can choose from a variety of master’s degrees in nursing, each with its own specialties and career paths. There are many types of master’s degrees in nursing, each with specific requirements and fields of study. These include:

1) Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

The MSN degree is most often chosen by nurses who want to increase their knowledge and become leaders in the field. The degree prepares nurses to treat patients more independently, which means they spend less time with doctors and other medical professionals.

2) Master of Arts in Nursing (MAN)

The MAN prepares nurses for leadership roles by providing them with advanced critical thinking skills that come from studying human behaviour, ethics and advocacy issues.

3) Master of Education in Nursing (MED)

While all levels of education are important for nursing students, those who earn a MED often specialize in educational administration or teaching at the university level. These individuals may also specialize in clinical research or public health policy changes affecting access to health care services.

4) Master's Degree​ ​in​ ​Nursing Administration (MNAD)

MNAD programs teach future administrators how to plan staffing patterns based on current trends within your organization while still maintaining patient safety standards.

Other Types of Master's Degrees in Nursing:

The Hierarchy Of Different Nursing Degrees

Simply put, all nurses have to obtain a bachelor's degree or a BSN, and only then can they proceed with obtaining an MSN and then a DNP. Meanwhile, an RN with an associate's degree can also pursue a diploma from a community college to become an LPN (licensed practical nurse). However, the three primary options remain:

Read More: Nurse Practitioner Vs Doctor

Find Nursing Job Opportunities Today at Caring Support

Caring Support is the ideal choice for nurses because of our comprehensive and user-friendly features. We prioritize the needs of nurses by offering a wide range of job opportunities from reputable healthcare facilities. Caring Support allows you to easily search for positions based on your preferences - be it location, shift, or specialization- and you're sure to find the perfect fit. We also provide valuable resources such as resume-building tools and interview tips to support you further in your career development.

Caring Support also fosters a community where nurses can connect with colleagues, share experiences, and access continuing education resources. With our reliability and security measures, nursing school applicants can rest assured knowing that their personal information is protected and that their job search experience is seamless, efficient, and catered specifically to both their professional aspirations and growth. Sign up for free today here!

Read More:

Highest Paying Cities For Nurses In Canada

How Can International Nurses Become A RN Or PRN

How To Transition From PSW To Nursing

About The Author
Kate Piamonte
Content Writer

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