What Degree Qualifications Can Nurses Get?

It’s no surprise that nursing is a popular choice of career as one of the most meaningful, rewarding and satisfying jobs worldwide. Becoming a nurse can be very emotionally satisfying, but it’s also a great career path with the opportunity to learn new things, specialize in your chosen area of healthcare, and improve your earning potential. As a choice of career, nursing offers no end to the number of opportunities for progression and advancement that you can take advantage of. Whether you want to work in advanced practice, management or research, there is something for almost everybody in nursing. Before you get started in your nursing career, it’s good to know more about the type of degree programs that are available for nurses today. 

Associate’s Degree in Nursing

Typically, this degree is the minimum qualification needed to work as a registered nurse. Associate’s programs are available to study at colleges, nursing schools, and online. They will usually take around two years to complete and prepare you to sit the NCLEX and gain your nursing license. However, it is worth bearing in mind that with most advanced degree programs now requiring a BSN as a minimum when hiring nurses, it can be difficult to take your career any further after getting the associate’s degree in nursing. Along with this, more employers are actively seeking out nurses with a higher level of education, which could put you at a disadvantage when finding work with an ADN. Studies have found that having more BSN-educated nurses can lead to better patient outcomes, which can put you at a disadvantage if you’re competing with BSN nurses when finding work. However, if you want to get into nursing quickly, it is worth considering this degree option. 

Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing

The BSN has become the most popular option available for people who want to train as a nurse. This four-year degree is designed to provide you with the education, skills, and knowledge that you need to work successfully as a registered nurse. More and more healthcare employers are actively seeking out registered nurses with a BSN as a minimum educational requirement and for good reason. Not only does hiring more BSN-trained nurses improve the chance that the organization will be awarded Magnet status, but studies have also found that boosting BSN-educated nurses by just 10% can have a significantly positive effect. Research shows that with more BSN nurses, organizations can offer better patient care with lower patient mortality rates and lower readmission rates. In the state of New York, all registered nurses are now required to gain a BSN within ten years of becoming a registered nurse under the new BSN-in-10 regulation. 

Online BSN Programs

Online study is becoming an increasingly popular choice for student nurses, particularly those who are in a situation where they need to combine study and work at the same time. Getting your BSN online can be especially useful if you want to get into nursing and are currently working in a different career full-time. Many people today do not have the luxury of being able to quit their jobs or reduce their hours while attending classes, which is where online BSN degree programs can come in handy. Along with this, studying for your nursing degree online can often work out cheaper overall compared to studying on-campus, as there are fewer associated costs such as commuting. 

Accelerated BSN

The accelerated BSN is another nursing degree program that is designed with getting people into nursing quickly in mind. The ABSN is for nursing students who already have a bachelor’s degree in a different subject. It is an ideal choice for career changers who have already been to college and gained a degree that is not related to nursing before deciding to pursue a nursing career later down the line. These programs typically last just two years compared to the typical four years to get a BSN which allows you to qualify and become a registered nurse in half the time. 

Master of Science in Nursing

The MSN is usually a minimum requirement for working in a range of advanced positions in nursing. Once you have a master’s degree in nursing, you can find work in various senior positions in management and leadership, research, advanced clinical practice, and more. Today one of the most popular roles for nurses who have an MSN is working as a nurse practitioner. You can get into this role with an MSN. To get a master’s of science in nursing you will usually be required to have completed a BSN. Some programs also call for applicants to have gained a certain number of years of experience working as a registered nurse before they will be able to apply. 

Doctor of Nursing Practice

The highest level of nursing degree qualification that you can gain is the DNP. Nurses who achieve a DNP can go on to work in very senior nursing positions including nurse executive positions and nurse education for advanced nurses. Online DNP programs, such as nurse practitioner programs in Texas from Baylor University, are widely available, making it easier for advanced practice registered nurses with an MSN to take their careers even further by getting this education that can be fit around their working hours. 

Bridge Programs

Bridge programs are becoming more popular among nurses who want to climb the career ladder by furthering their education. These programs are designed for nurses who already have a nursing degree qualification such as an ADN and build on it to get a more advanced qualification such as the BSN. You can also find programs that allow you to skip levels and get a higher education faster, such as BSN to DNP programs. 

Nursing is a career pathway that offers a lot of opportunities for career progression and advancement, along with the option to specialize in the areas of healthcare that interest you the most. To get to where you want to be in your nursing career, you can choose from a wide range of degree options available to study both in the classroom and online. 

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