Thought I would post a thread that explained the different ways to become a nurse. I have seen many people ask what the difference was in degrees and what they should do. I thought that by providing an article that differentiates each degree then 'newbies' can understand the process. Who knows maybe this will become a sticky!
Following article comes from www.nursezone.com
When you consider what your educational path toward becoming a nurse should be, it's best to base your decision on several factors related to what's best for you. Financial situation, previous education, age, relocation plans and other situations all come into play.
For many students, the AD or ADN (associate's degree two-year community college program) is the way to go, especially if cost and time are factors.
After graduating with your ADN, you will be ready for positions in hospitals and other inpatient and outpatient facilities. This program is popular for many seeking a second career. It is a shorter program and is not as expensive as some of the baccalaureate programs available. The emphasis is on basic nursing skills and applying them to your patients.
One disadvantage of this path is that some employers are now, or may in the future, ask for at least a BSN (bachelor's of science in nursing degree) for nurses working in different levels or positions in their facilities. Also, check out the requirements for the state in which you plan to work. Some states, like North Dakota, for example, require a baccalaureate degree to take the NCLEX exam.
After weighing out your personal and professional options, you may decide that this program is the best one for you now. Then, if and when you're ready to pursue a bachelor's degree, find out if your employer offers tuition reimbursement or what type of financial aid may be available to you through your school, associations you're affiliated with, your local community or the state and federal government.
The four-year bachelor's degree program may better suit your needs. Weigh out these options before making a decision.
For many high school graduates who were already planning to take two years of prerequisite college courses, this type of program may be a good idea. Many employers also favor a nurse with a BSN. But remember, it will take you twice as long as a community college program to earn your diploma and will likely cost you quite a bit more.
However, the advantage to you in completing your baccalaureate degree is that the content is more extensive and the program prepares you for advancement opportunities. It prepares you for positions in inpatient and community settings and will help you on the road to your advanced degree if and when you're ready. Also, some colleges are now offering accelerated programs. See other options below for more on these programs.
Diploma (Three-year hospital-based) program
While the three-year diploma programs are not as common as they once were, they do still exist, often at hospitals in the Eastern United States. Diploma programs are usually three-year programs based in hospitals and held in conjunction with local community colleges. Bridgeport Hospital School of Nursing in Connecticut is one hospital that offers the program. The hospital has also arranged with a local community college to help its students obtain an associate's degree by completing some other coursework with the college.
The diploma program has more clinical work than most degree programs, which often allows for more knowledge and ease of adjustment for newer nurses entering hospital positions after licensing.
However, if you're considering returning to school for your bachelor's degree, you'll have a lot of credits to complete that many of your colleagues with ADNs or BSNs have already taken.
LVN or LPN
There are schools and colleges in the United States with programs specifically designed to put you to work as a nurse sooner than most traditional programs. These college programs lead to the Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). Visit the National League for Nursing for more on these programs.
Excelsior College (formerly Regents)
Excelsior College offers nursing degree programs and certificate programs specifically designed for working health care professionals who have experience in clinically oriented health care disciplines, including: registered nurses, licensed practical/vocational nurses, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, military service corpsmen in certain classifications and several others. The program combines work and school experience to help you on the path to several nursing degree options. Visit Excelsior for a self-assessment of courses and experiences.
RN to BSN program
If you are a registered nurse (RN) with a diploma or associate's degree, you may want to consider enrolling in a BSN program, especially if you are interested in furthering your nursing career. Universities offer these programs through traditional learning methods at the university setting and many are now offering online BSN programs. Visit Peterson's. Login and search for RN to BSN programs.