Nurses provide a wide array of services in multiple settings, including hospitals, community health centers, military, federal nursing agencies, private families, and private institutions. The shortage of professionals in the field is caused by a high retirement rate of registered nurses, few slots in training schools, few schools, credentialing issues, nurse educator shortage, and high school fees to list a few. The paper discusses several stages of nursing education that should be attained by nurses. The level of training for nurses must reflect the complexity of the healthcare challenges as nurses are bound to play an advanced role in the sphere.
Nurses Education Levels
The United States allows several types of nursing qualifications, including registered nurses (RN), licensed practical nurses (LPN), and Advanced Practice Nurse (APN). There are three paths that nurses can follow to the RN level, such as a two-year associate degree program, a three-year diploma program, and a four-year baccalaureate program. All nurses seeking licenses must take the standardized National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)-RN (American Nurses Association (ANA), n.d.).
The majority of associate degree programs are available in the community and junior colleges. Senior colleges, universities, private and technical institutions also offer the program. The associate degree requires completion of higher education. After attaining the degree, a graduate can take the state license examination to receive a registered nurse accreditation (ANA,n.d.).
Hospital diploma schools are the most traditional way to achieve a RN status. After the completion of the program, nurses can take the licensing exam for registered nurses. At the same time, nurses, who gain a diploma in this way, have limited roles in hospitals performing the nursing duties mainly as health care generalists (ANA, n.d.).
Applicants must have a high school diploma and pass the college entrants examinations. Baccalaureate programs combine theory and practice of nursing with general humanities, such as biological, behavioral and physical sciences. Students with associate degrees take a different curriculum that is known as the articulated baccalaureate; the program lasts less than four years. Baccalaureate degree graduates with RN licenses take advanced and administrative roles in health institutions. RN nurses also have wider opportunities for nurse educators, administrators, researchers and clinical specialists (American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), n.d.).
Nurses past the Baccalaureate degree take master’s and doctoral degrees to practice at advanced levels as licensed practical nurses (LPN) and advanced practice nurses (APN). Master’s degree takes over a year and prepares graduates for advanced roles, involving clinical practice and teaching among others. The curriculum covers nursing research, theory, practicum and specializations, for instance, informatics, medical surgery, public health, and psychiattric nursing, to list a few. Doctoral degrees include specialization in nursing or a major in the related field of study, for example, social, physical, biological and behavior sciences. A baccalaureate degree, master’s degree, and work experience are needed in this case. Doctoral programs open opportunities for nurses’ career development, such as faculty members in universities, medical center administrators, deans of nursing schools and expert clinical practitioners (AACN, n.d.).
Registered nurses take several diverse specializations to become advanced practice nurses (APNs). Specialization requires advanced education and certifications in the area of interest. Fields of specialization include ambulatory care nursing, advanced practice registered nursing (APRN), cardiac nursing, dialysis nursing, forensic nursing, family nurse practitioners, informatics, surgical sphere and midwifery (ANA, n.d.). Private bodies such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) handle certifications.
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Nursing education systems in the United States offers students several paths to becoming registered nurses and advance in their preferred areas of specialization. Individuals wishing to become registered nurses can take a diploma, an associate or baccalaureate degree and a licensing exam later. The US is experiencing a large shortage of nurses, mainly in advanced practices. Nonetheless, availability of nursing programs provides students with an opportunity to pursue a career in different spheres of nursing practice and administration.