Is your goal to become a registered nurse (RN) or a licensed practical nurse (LPN)? Learn more about navigating the educational process with the Career Pathways in Nursing Guide and detailed information below.
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) Education
To become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) you must attend an LPN program, which can usually be completed in 12-18 months. Graduates receive a certificate and are eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN), which you must pass for licensure as an LPN. Licensed practical nurses are employed in entry level positions in settings such as hospitals, extended care facilities, clinics and physicians’ offices.
Admission into an LPN program is often competitive. Prerequisite coursework includes anatomy and physiology, pharmacology and math.
Registered Nursing (RN) Education
In order to become an RN, you must attend college, either for an associate’s degree (ASN) or a bachelor’s degree (BSN). Many ASN and BSN programs use a two-step process for admission: first you complete the school’s pre-requisites and other requirements, then you submit your application for admission into the nursing program. Nursing school admission is fairly competitive and is often dependent on your pre-requisite grade point average (GPA).
Both ASN and BSN degrees prepare you for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX), which you must pass for licensure as an RN. However, there are differences amongst the tracks.
Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) degrees can usually be completed in two to three academic years. ASN programs are found at community colleges, colleges and universities. The ASN curriculum includes courses in physical and behavioral sciences. This degree prepares you to serve in an entry-level nursing position where you provide direct care to individuals and families with well-defined health needs. ASN graduates have numerous career opportunities in a variety of settings. By earning an ASN, you have completed the basic course requirements for entering an RN-BSN completion program.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees can usually be completed in four academic years. BSN programs are found at colleges and universities. The curriculum includes courses in the physical sciences, behavioral sciences and humanities. Emphasis is placed on communication, health education and promotion, community health, leadership and research. Clinical experiences occur in acute, chronic and wellness settings. A BSN degree prepares you to provide direct and indirect nursing care to individuals, families, groups and communities in a variety of settings. BSN graduates find greater career options and advancement opportunities in nursing. Obtaining your BSN also serves as the foundation for graduate study.
Accelerated BSN programs, which give you credit for your prior coursework, are available if you already hold a bachelor’s degree in another field.
Advanced Education, including master’s and doctorate degrees, opens you to ever-expanding nursing opportunities. To decide whether you may want to pursue advanced nursing education, explore Indiana’s graduate programs and the opportunities and roles available to nurses with post-graduate degrees.
For future employment and educational opportunities, you should consider whether your nursing program is accredited by one of these two nationally-recognized nursing accrediting bodies:
Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) Note: This organization was formerly known as NLNAC.
Many institutions require graduation from an accredited institution as part of their employment policies. Accreditation also helps to ensure that your course credits will transfer to another accredited institution, should you decide to pursue further nursing education.
Financial Aid is often available to offset the daunting expenses of college tuition. When considering your options for education, an important step is researching and applying for financial aid opportunities.
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