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Welcome to the web’s most comprehensive nursing education resource, featuring a directory of over 2,300 nursing schools. Learn more about how our quarterly scholarship may help you realize your dream of attending nursing school. Below, we speak with Suzy Harrington, DNP, RN, MCHES, the director of the American Nurses Association Center for Health, Safety, and Wellness. An LPN is the fastest way into entry-level nursing, with programs completed in as little as one year. Career growth is limited, though unless you pursue further education, such as an ADN or BSN.
Job opportunities include work in nursing homes, hospitals, doctors' offices, clinics, or in home health.
There's little difference between the ADN and BSN degree when it comes to direct patient care jobs, but if you are looking for management or even public health oriented positions, you'll want to consider the BSN.
The majority of RNs work in hospitals, but other locations include schools, physicians' offices, nursing homes, government agencies and more. In October 2010, an influential nursing report called for the number of BSN-prepared nurses to grow to 80 percent by 2020 - the four-year BSN is increasingly becoming the choice entry-level, nursing degree among employers and the one that gives new nurses the widest selection of career paths.
If pursuing a BSN isn't feasible due to time or financial constraints, start with an LPN or ADN, either of which will allow you to support yourself as a nurse more quickly than the BSN and then seek further education at your own pace. With a BSN you can work in doctors' offices, long term care facilities, community health centers, hospitals and specialty units like oncology or labor and delivery, among others. If you've already earned a bachelor's degree in a field other than nursing, one of your best options is the accelerated BSN, which will give you credit for the general ed. Depending on your goals post nursing degree, a direct entry MSN, which can let you specialize and take on management or education related roles, may be more appropriate for you than the accelerated BSN. As a second career nurse your prior experience might open you up to unique opportunities that make use of your already developed area of expertise, for example nursing informatics.
If your goal is to move into a nurse management role or a particular specialty area of nursing, this degree will let you fast-track your nursing career. If you know you want to focus on patient care, the accelerated BSN degree might be a better choice for you than the direct entry MSN, as you'll get to practice nursing more quickly and directly. An MSN will give you more independence and opportunity to work as a nurse midwife, nurse practitioner, nurse manager or nurse educator among other things - advanced practice roles will require a DNP by 2015 though.
While salary varies with job title, on average a nurse with an MSN can earn between $60,000 and $75,000 per year. Hospitals are the largest employers of RNs, but jobs are available in environments from home care to doctors' offices, government organizations and more. If you know you want to specialize as a nurse practitioner or nurse educator, for example, you might want to think about pursuing an RN to MSN instead.
Nurses with a BSN are able to work in a variety of health care positions from community programs to hospitals, and in particular, in specialized areas such as oncology, cardiology, emergency services, and more. The RN to MSN can take about three to four years to complete, but you're rewarded for your time with both a BSN and an MSN degree, perfect for those who know that they want to practice in a specialty area of nursing. Certain nursing careers don't require the MSN, so it might not be the best bet for you unless you're interested in working in a certain nursing specialty, teaching or leading. Nurses with an MSN can obtain jobs as nursing managers, educators, nurse practitioners, specialty nurses and more. While salary varies with job title, on average a nurse with an MSN can make between $60,000 and $75,000 per year. RNs are typically employed in some form of direct patient care, but in order to move into certain management, education or even specialty nursing positions, an MSN will be required.
Whether to pursue and MSN or not largely rests on what kind of position you are going for - if you don't want a more leadership-focused role, perhaps you should stick with the BSN, or if you want a role in nursing research, maybe you'd rather jump ahead to the PhD. An MSN-prepared nurse can work as a nursing manager, educator, specialized nurse such as clinical nurse specialist or as a nurse practitioner, though by 2015 this role will require a DNP.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing has suggested that all advanced practice nurses have a DNP degree by the year 2015, this includes nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists and others.
Nurses with a DNP work in advanced practice roles in hospitals, doctors' offices and even independently as nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, and more. A PhD gives a health care professional the ability to run his or her own clinical research trials, publish that research and influence nursing policy.
A PhD in nursing is geared toward those who want to conduct research and influence policy; for a more patient-oriented position, you would want to seek a DNP. With a PhD you will be able to work in research, government organizations and as a professor, among other roles. You've decided you want to go to nursing school-or maybe you want to go back to nursing school-now what? That being said, there are many entry points into nursing, just as there are many ways to specialize or continue your education in the field, and plenty of strategies to increase your chances of being accepted. From our survey of nursing school administrators: The number one thing most nursing school administrators look for in an application is an appropriate, qualifying GPA.
An LPN (licensed practical nurse) or an ADN (an associate degree in nursing) are the fastest entry points into the field. From our survey of nursing school administrators: What is likely to kill your chance for admission?
From our survey of nursing school administrators: If you want your application to stand out, make use of your essay-demonstrate your passion for nursing and explain who you are. If you're already an ADN-prepared RN who would like to continue your education, many programs are available that will lead to either a BSN or an MSN, if you are looking for a particular specialty or leadership role.
From our survey of nursing school administrators: Don't assume balancing school, work and general life responsibilities will be easy. The accelerated BSN is perfect for someone who already has a non-nursing bachelor's degree and is interested in switching careers. From our survey of nursing school administrators: The biggest misconception about getting into nursing school? If you're seeking to specialize in a field of nursing from psychiatric nursing to nurse midwifery, the MSN might be a good choice.
Another option for a non-nurse with a bachelor's or master's in another field, this degree will let you specialize in a particular area of nursing and will prepare you take on more leadership-oriented positions.
Soon to be the new standard degree for advanced nursing practice, the DNP can give you increased independence as a nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, or clinical nurse specialist, for example.
This degree is perfect for those who are interested in exploring nursing research and shaping overall nursing policy and practice. From our survey of nursing school administrators: What will improve your chances of being accepted to school?


Final thoughts on your application: always be professional, respectful and enthusiastic about the programs to which you are applying.
For more details, contact the admissions department for each school in which you are interested.
Below you'll find brief video interviews with students at a number of prominent nursing schools, where they discuss why they chose their school and how the experience has been. You've spent years studying nursing texts, completing clinical requirements, volunteering and generally devoting yourself to joining the nursing profession. Author: Nurse Teeny is a community health nurse for aging and disability services in her county.
The reasons for going back to nursing school are as diverse as the academic options available. Anne Taliaferro, a public health nurse, was working in research and considering a career in health care. Taliaferro ultimately chose nursing over medicine because of the person-centered focus it offered: "There are so many reasons why I was drawn to nursing. Audra Mattila, a pediatric home health nurse, advises understanding what this career really involves. Get trained as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Medical Assistant (MA) or Paramedic (EMT).
Bio: Theresa Brown, a former college English professor, is a second career oncology nurse who blogs about her experiences in the field for the popular New York Times "Well" blog. There is a chapter in my book in which I talk about my first job because there was a lot of bullying, an unfortunate truth about nursing.
Q: What advice do you have for a new nurse about managing the emotional element of nursing?
In general, I have positive experiences with coworkers and doctors, but there is a streak in hospitals of people handling stress by taking it out on other people. The nursing job market is projected to experience more growth in the next decade than the market for almost any other profession, but still nothing is ever guaranteed. Find out what it takes to secure a nursing position and how to create a winning resume with advice from an expert nurse recruiter and manager, both of whom have helped countless nurses navigate a tricky job market.
I have an ADN, but my dream job is at a hospital that gives preference to BSN-prepared nurses.
To get past the "BSN-preferred" hurdle, try addressing the issue directly in your cover letter.
I'm interested in critical care nursing, but all of the critical care job ads ask for previous critical care or med-surg experience. Donna Cardillo suggests attending local chapter meetings of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses. Author: Laura Raines is a freelance writer and editor of "Pulse," a nursing and allied health publication published by the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Right: Being well-groomed and wearing business attire, completing a test drive to ensure you know where the interview is and will arrive early, shutting off or silencing your cell phone, greeting your interviewer with a firm handshake and smile which shows confidence and enthusiasm. Right: "Research the organization and people you'll be meeting using the employer's website, Google and LinkedIn. Right: "In this market, many candidates will have the education and clinical skills needed.
In the interview, she discusses efforts to promote nurse health and wellness as well as the ANA Healthy Nurse Conference.
One thing you should know up front about the nursing school application process: it's competitive. Read on to find out some basic application components for the various degree types and review feedback from nursing school admissions counselors on what exactly stands out-for better or worse.
An LPN can take one to two years to complete, while an ADN, a path to becoming an RN, typically requires two to three years, depending on the program. Pay attention to detail and highlight what makes you a unique candidate from your volunteer experiences to the reasons you want to become a nurse.
Make sure you have a handle on just how much time you will need to devote to your school work. It will let you bypass the general education requirements you've already completed to focus on the nursing curriculum. That it is a "done deal." Don't assume that a high GPA or having your prereqs done is enough-nursing school is competitive. Pay attention to details, be well-rounded, demonstrate leadership skills and go out of your way to meet with an admissions counselor-knowing your strengths and weaknesses before you even apply can give you an edge. Demonstrate exactly what kind of committed, involved and successful nursing student you will be. A successful exam preparation must include a comprehensive and compact review of each of the four main categories and six subcategories of the official test plan, including the medical terminology and exam relevant keywords. The more questions you practice, the more skilled you will become at answering high level NCLEX questions, and the more prepared you will be for the actual exam. Avoid distractions like travelling or partying right after graduation, and stay in "school mode." This test will validate the years you just spent in school.
Always view each question under consideration of the most realistic and appropriate problem solving approach, which a practicing nurse would apply in an actual clinical situation.
If you have no idea on a question, rely on your most basic knowledge of the topic to work out an answer. Before going into community health, she was a Critical Care RN Resident on a Progressive Care Unit. Many of us were inspired by positive encounters with nurses either when we or our family members were patients. Despite the increasing prevalence of accelerated BSN and "alternate entry" graduate options, the process can be long and arduous. What percentage of their graduates have jobs within three (and six) months, particularly in this economy? Make sure you are honest with yourself about the reasons for making the choice to go into nursing. She is also the author of the book, Critical Care: A New Nurse Faces Death, Life and Everything in Between.
Having a lot of practice communicating, having taught writing, I've really thought a lot about how to interact with people and get across information-that's invaluable. I graduated from the accelerated nursing program at the University of Pittsburgh, which was a year-long program. I was lucky because I started out with this wonderful and gentle preceptor, and she was so calm and patient.


I'll pass on a very good piece of advice I got from another nurse about when I would feel comfortable, "Someday it's just going to click in your head, and you're going to say ‘oh, I get it.'" I held on to that idea, and then it happened. Hospitals are incredibly chaotic, and a lot of what you have to learn as a nurse is how to navigate that chaos.
Fink, RN, BSN is a professional freelance writer with almost a decade of experience as a Registered Nurse.
Finding the perfect job for you involves mastering the art of the job hunt from networking to writing impressive cover letters and resumes and interviewing with ease.
Structure your resume to highlight your experience and skills, says Gail Biba, RN, BSN, CNRN, nurse manager of the neuroscience intensive care unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital. While some critical care units will only hire experienced nurses, others are open to qualified new grads.
Have a friend comb through it for grammatical and spelling errors (correct any that are found). She is also a regular contributor to the AJC on the subjects of jobs, careers and education. Decreased patient volume, increased nursing graduates, hospital budget tightening, older nurses delaying retirement, and experienced clinicians returning to the workforce all make for "an extremely competitive market for nurses, especially new grads," Spruill says. Ask yourself how your career goals fit the mission of the organization and what extra you can bring to the job," says Diane Smith, principal for nurse recruitment, DHR International, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Below the interview, you can find our extensive "Survival Guide" for both new and aspiring nurses. A survey by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing showed that 52,115 qualified applications were turned away from 565 entry-level baccalaureate nursing programs in 2010, far exceeding the number of applications rejected for other majors. A preparation based on review of questions only may not be sufficient and often causes failure to pass the nursing board exam.
Capture the explanation with a recording device, and replay it so that you make sure you understand the concepts.
Make sure, though, that you are always thinking critically about the information presented. I studied really hard for the heart system, but most of my questions were on infection control!? She is currently working on her MSN in Clinical Nurse Leadership and will graduate in May 2012. Contrary to popular belief, nursing is not "recession-proof", particularly for new graduates, and the monetary rewards will not sustain you through the emotional and physical demands of the job. Look for unit secretary and technician positions which will let you interact directly with patients and families (if you can, keep the job through nursing schoolso that you can apply internally for RN positions). Having been a professor and being older, I think I came in more comfortable with doctors than a lot of nurses are, and that's very helpful too.
I've heard from other nurses at other hospitals that there can be hostility between nurses and sometimes a feeling that some nurses don't want someone who "has better credentials" or who "knows more" coming in and making them look bad.
The first day I just shadowed her and I thought, "Oh, this looks okay." I tried to absorb as much as possible, and then when I started, she was just incredibly warm, and I could handle the work. There are still moments when I feel like I don't know something, but there was a point when I just got it.
She's worked in both hospitals and nursing homes as a med-surg, geriatric and transplant nurse.
Johns Hopkins Hospital, for instance, requires prospective critical care RNs to have completed either a clinical rotation through an ICU or an internship or externship in an ICU. Tweak your resume to highlight any and all relevant nursing experience, including part-time jobs and clinical rotations.
We offer this workshop to provide you with information and strategies to access needed services.
We also interviewed Judith Halstead, PhD, RN, FAAN, ANEF, the President of the National League for Nursing.
Chances are you will spend at least a year taking these courses before you ever step foot onto a nursing school campus. It's easier for me to see them as colleagues who are doing different pieces of a very important job.
I work with BSN nurses, diploma nurses and nurses who went to community college, and they're all good nurses. It really was a blur of patients, doctors, other nurses, and aides, and I thought, "Who are all these people, and how am I going to talk to them? If you're the kind of person who needs to get feelings out, and you're working on a floor where people tell you to suck it up, that's not going to work. Every person, whether it's a housekeeper, the chief nursing officer or the head of cardiology, needs to be held to professional standards of behavior.
Her national publication credits include Parents, RN, Ladies' Home Journal, Nursing Spectrum, Pregnancy and Journal of Christian Nursing. If you have that experience and are interested in critical care, you should definitely apply.
Show us your passion for nursing and how you share our commitment to patients," says Veneziano.
She talks about the future of nursing education and some of the factors, like a shortage of nursing faculty, that will impact it. Also, find out if there are current students willing to speak honestly about their experiences. My true and strong feeling is that all nurses should have a BSN because it would raise the professional profile of the job. We're working so hard, and we care so much about the patients, and often I feel like in health care in general, we aren't getting the help we need. Biba likes to see a bulleted list of clinical skills – such as experience with certain types of catheters, cardiac monitors and central lines, as well.
This job has made me feel really good about being married because I see couples - whether it's the wife or the husband who's sick - who are really there for each other.
For everyone who wants to be a nurse to get a BSN though, there needs to be money available to financially help those nurses who can only afford diploma programs. Highlight those qualities on your resume, and there's a good chance you'll get an interview.




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