Chances are you have encountered nurses sometime in your life. Whether it was the school clinic nurse or the ones who helped get you back on your feet after an accident or helped deliver you on your birthdate, the world is a better place because of nurses.
Nursing is defined formally as a profession in the healthcare industry that is focused on caring for individuals, families and communities to attain, maintain or recover optimal health and quality of life. Nurses work hand in hand with physicians, midwives and other medical practitioners.
There are many degrees and programs available for individuals interested in pursuing nursing. A full bachelor degree program is the most common in all countries as the other ones to be discussed later are more common in western countries. Most healthcare providers prefer graduates of Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs, as seen in the rising number of institutions that require this degree on job postings.
Another requirement for most positions is to be a registered nurse. One doesn’t need a bachelor degree to become a registered nurse. Technically, an individual would need an associate’s degree.
Moreover, individuals can take training at vocational and technical schools or community colleges to become licensed practical nurses (LPN) or licensed vocational nurses (LVN).
In addition, there are also programs that bridge these programs together. For example, licensed practical nurses (LPN) may take LPN-to-Associate’s Degree programs if they decide to pursue becoming a registered nurse.
Entrance into a nursing degree program varies from institution to institution. Some universities require you to take an entrance exam, while some will take into consideration national or standard exams. A number of universities take into consideration advanced placement exams, while some consider transfer credits for post-secondary students and/or applicants.
Because of the many types of programs to those interested in pursuing nursing, the requirements vary significantly, so you are advised to contact the institution you would like to study with for a complete list of requirements.
For students pursuing a bachelor degree, aside from the major classes in nursing, a significant number of institutions require all their students to also take general education courses as a rule set by their administration and sometimes even the government. General education usually includes mathematics, sciences and languages.
Nursing major courses include units in chemistry, life sciences, microbiology, anatomy, physiology, biostatistics, mental health, pediatric nursing and many others focused on the medical and physiological knowledge required by nursing professionals.
Vocational schools will require training and experience in hospitals or clinics throughout the program, while longer degrees generally require a period of placement in hospitals or clinics in its latter years.
Nursing courses offer specialisations throughout the latter stages of the program to allow students to focus on the areas of nursing they prefer. Alternatively, some institutions offer specialised courses in a particular areas of nursing if the student already knows their preferred area. The most common specialisations and types of nursing degrees include:
These specialisations may also be obtained through work experience and training in different hospitals or clinics.
The accreditation of a degree usually depends on the country where the degree is awarded. In most cases, countries have their own accrediting systems for universities, students and graduates.
After graduating from an accredited degree program in nursing, you will need to be licensed and/or registered to practice as a nurse. You are highly advised to double check the requirements in the state or country you would like to practice nursing.
The different nursing programs have different timeframes and coverage. Usually, LPN or LVN programs are fast-tracked, taking less time than an associate’s degree. Associate’s degrees can take around two years, while bachelor degrees can take up to four years.
Many different graduate programs are also available for those who want to take further their knowledge and specialisation in the field. These include master’s and doctorate programs that allow nurses to learn more advanced skills and time for research and training.
In the UK, nearly 100% of all nursing graduates are healthcare professionals. This is no surprise as there is always a demand in nursing, and the medical field in general, for skilled professionals. Graduates of nursing programs are known to be flexible, adaptable, determined and organised.
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