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Have you ever considered a career in nursing, but were intimidated by the complex relationship between education, training and certification in the field? We are here to help.
Types Of Nurse Practitioner Specialties
Nurses can use this guide to research different levels, roles, and specialties for nurses along with education and training requirements.
List Of Different Nurse Levels In Order
For healthcare facilities to function properly, nurses at each level must perform various patient care responsibilities. Nurses begin their careers by earning a nursing diploma and performing basic patient care tasks that allow them to accumulate clinical experience. Responsibilities may include designing and implementing treatment plans, administering medications, and recording vital signs. Entry-level nursing roles include nursing assistants or practical/vocational nurses.
Finally, after hundreds of hours of clinical experience and an associate’s or bachelor’s degree from an accredited school, they can work as registered nurses (RNs). Many RNs gain more experience with a master’s degree and become an advanced registered nurse (APRN).
Once a nurse reaches the highest level, they can take on specific roles in nursing or continue their education to work in education, administration or policy advocacy.
Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) are not nurses. Instead, they are specialists who provide basic patient care to nurses, such as bed transfers, feeding and dressing changes.
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CNA certification does not require a college degree. Instead, aspiring CNAs must complete a 3-8 week CNA program that includes 75 hours of clinical experience. Candidates then apply to take the CNA exam and become certified with their state board.
Licensed practical nurses (LPNs), also known as licensed vocational nurses (LVNs), have higher-level care responsibilities than CNAs, such as administering medications and taking patients’ vital signs. They interact daily with doctors and nurses who usually work in hospitals, residential institutions and polyclinics.
500-750 clinical hours completed through a state accredited program are required after passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLX) through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).
The registered nurse (RN) supports a high standard of patient care by conducting health assessments, providing counseling and providing treatment for a variety of conditions. They typically work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and nursing care facilities. In some states, they must work under the supervision of an APRN or physician.
The Path To Becoming A Nurse Practitioner (np)
RNs require at least an associate degree in nursing (ADN), although some employers prefer candidates with a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). Clinical hour requirements vary by state, but most RNs complete 200-400 clinical hours. They must take the NCLEX-RN exam to qualify for licensure.
APRNs have more responsibilities than RNs, often working independently and developing treatment plans. They typically see patients in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and other medical facilities.
Becoming an APRN requires a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and 500 clinical hours in addition to passing an exam from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the American Nurses Association (AANP). Specific tests depend on the specialty and may include one of the following:
The lowest degree level, a nursing diploma can take a minimum of four weeks to complete and prepare graduates for entry-level pre-RN work. Meanwhile, an MSN typically takes two years on top of what it takes to earn a bachelor’s degree. A master’s degree offers more opportunities for higher paying jobs than a nursing diploma.
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The “best” type of nursing degree is one that meets your educational needs and meets your professional and personal goals.
Nursing diplomas typically take less than a year, with some offering just a few weeks. Most nursing diploma programs include up to 100 hours of clinical experience. Earning the diploma prepares the candidate to work as a CNA or LPN/LVN, performing primary care duties and acting as a bridge between patients and nurses. Nurses at this level typically work in hospitals, residential care, or nursing homes.
An ADN takes at least two years to complete and requires students to complete approximately 300 hours of clinical experience. This degree provides the minimum level of education to work as an RN in hospitals, clinics, and schools. An associate-level education qualifies individuals to take on more responsibilities in patient care than a diploma.
A BSN takes about four years to complete, although some programs allow students to complete their studies at a faster two-year pace. Programs typically require 300-400 clinical hours. Having a BSN is a competitive advantage when seeking employment as an RN, especially in a job market where many employers prefer candidates with four-year degrees. Nurses with a BSN typically work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and medical clinics.
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An MSN usually takes at least two years to complete. As part of the MSN program, students complete a minimum of 500 hours of clinical experience. The MSN prepares graduates to work as an APRN, which includes specialty roles such as nurse practitioner (NP) or certified nurse midwife (CNM). Nurses with a master’s degree typically work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, or specialty facilities. In some states, they can open a private practice.
A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) takes 3-6 years and 1,000 clinical hours to complete. This degree qualifies graduates to work as APRNs, professors or nurse researchers. DNPs typically work in hospitals, medical clinics, or in their own independent practice, but they may also work as educators and researchers in higher education and health policy organizations.
A Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD) takes 3-6 years to complete. As part of the degree, students also complete 1,000 clinical hours. These nurses work as educators, researchers, and policy makers. A nurse with a PhD can usually find specialized employment at colleges, universities, and health policy organizations.
Professionals can use nursing certification to advance careers in specialized nursing and patient care. Most nursing certifications are geared toward APRNs, but some certifications require only a BSN or RN license.
Where Fnp Nurse Practitioners Work
The HIV/AIDS Nursing Certification Board (HANCB) offers certification for RNs who provide physical and psychological care to patients with HIV/AIDS. Certification covers fundamentals such as laboratory evaluation, disease prevention, and the HIV life cycle.
RNs who work to care for HIV/AIDS patients may pursue AACRN certification offered by HANCB. This certification emphasizes psychological and emotional support for HIV/AIDS patients.
The CDN RN credential certifies RNs with over 2,000 hours of clinical experience in nephrology (kidney care) nursing, primarily caring for dialysis patients. CDN exam consists of 150 questions.
CHPCA is a credential for nurses in administrative roles in hospice or palliative care. However, this certification is currently only offered through certification, which means new nurses cannot earn certification.
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Nursing assistants often pursue this certification. It certifies the carrier to perform primary patient care responsibilities in most healthcare settings.
CNE certification is for nursing students who wish to study nursing at a college or university. Nurses with the CNE designation have general nursing skills in addition to curriculum design, teaching, and counseling.
CNL certification for clinical APRNs demonstrates skills in quality improvement, risk assessment, and care coordination. CNL nurses use their leadership skills to strive to improve the quality of healthcare.
CENP, sometimes referred to as chief nursing officer (CNO) certification, is a credential available to APRNs with extensive experience in executive leadership roles.
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CRNA certification provides credentials for APRNs who administer anesthesia for surgical, obstetric, or trauma patients.
The OCN designation certifies RNs to care for and counsel cancer patients. Certification requires RNs to accumulate 1,000 clinical hours in oncology practice.
Nurses typically choose a specialty in population or health care, such as midwifery or hospice care. Pursuing a concentration in a nursing career can lead to higher incomes and more job offers, especially if you earn a related professional certification. The following list shows some of the most common types of nursing majors, although it is not comprehensive.
Prospective RNs can take a variety of paths to enter the workforce. They can go straight from getting their ADN to sitting for the RN exam, or they can switch to online, hybrid, and on-campus bachelor’s programs. Many students take the traditional route and complete BSN programs solely as exam and certification preparation.
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Other students can work as CNAs, which allows them to gain work experience. They can later apply to CNA-to-BSN programs to prepare for advanced certification.
All RNs and above must take the NCLEX-RN exam at some point in their nursing journey. The NCLEX is a comprehensive exam required for RN certification. The NCSBN administers the exam through each state’s board of nursing, which may also have its own eligibility requirements for taking the exam.
APRNs can play a variety of roles within nursing, often with better salary potential. The most common specialties available to APRNs are nurse practitioner (NP), clinical nurse specialist (CNS), certified nurse midwife (CNM), and registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA). All these positions offer high salaries and career specialization.
Licensing requirements for each of the following roles vary by state, and only some states maintain reciprocity agreements.
Different Types Of Nurse Practitioners
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