Starting On The Path Toward Being A Registered Nurse Or Licensed Practical Nurse
There are two main paths you
can take to get started in nursing: becoming a licensed practical nurse
(called a vocational practicing nurse in some states) or a registered
The license practical nurse (LPN) route is attractive if you would like
to get your first nursing job as quickly as possible and gain real
experience. Many students who can’t afford the financial
investment or put in the two years usually required to get an RN
associate’s degree (an associates degree) right off the bat
will start as a licensed practical nurse, and then gradually get more
advanced degrees to push their careers forward.
One good strategy to
keep in mind: You may be able to save yourself a bundle by getting
started as a working (LPN), and then getting your employer to pay for
you to study for an RN degree and eventually even a BSN degree.
A variety of abbreviated degree or certificate programs can prepare you
to take the NCLEX-PN (National Council Licensure Examination for
Practical Nursing) exam you must pass to become a licensed practical
To start your nursing career at a level where you’ll earn a
bit more and have more advanced job responsibilities, you can study to
become a registered nurse, or RN. This requires you to earn an
associates degree in nursing, generally a two-year program, and pass
the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination for Registered
Nursing), given by all 50 states.
An ADN is truly a college-level associate’s degree, and you
will be required to have some liberal arts prerequisites already
completed, usually with a minimum grade of B, before you can start on
your nursing courses. The payoff, however, is that you will be trained
to work with patients and their doctors more as an advisor, and
you’ll earn more.
More tips here on how to get started with an entry-level nursing job
Top Online Programs In Nursing:
Indiana State University
ISU is the state university of Indiana, located in Terre Haute. It has received high ratings for many years from Princeton Review and other publications. Right now it's one of the most progressive state schools in terms of online learning, with a variety of degree progams. It's nursing program offers up to 10 hours of credit via a "professional portfolio evaluation," a mechanism through which experienced nurses can demonstrate their knowledge to receive credit in certain areas. Indiana State offers LPN to BSN and RN to BSN programs online.
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Kaplan is a large school specializing in online career training, owned by the Washington Post Company. It offers degrees in many different areas. For licensed nurses, if offers an RN to BS program, or an RN to MS "bridge" degree. Nursing master's degrees are also offered in:
- Family Nurse Practitioner
- MS Nurse Educator
- Nursing Administration
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Georgetown, located in Washington D.C., is one of the oldest and most famous private universities in the country. In the online world, it specializes in masters of science programs for nurses:
- MS Adult Gerontology
- MS Family Nurse Practitioner
- MS Nurse Educator
- MS Nurse Midwifery
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American Sentinel University
ASU is a popular choice among our readers, partly due to the great affordability of it's online RN to BSN program. RNs can enroll with no work experience, and may get credit transfer for any previous courses they have taken. American Sentinal's nursing programs have accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
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