Nursing Classes and Education ProgramsIf you're thinking about going to nursing school, you'll find there are a lot options to consider. Each level of nursing - LVN, LPN and RN - has different education requirements and different job descriptions.
What's in a name?
When it comes to nursing classifications, there's a lot more to it than just the name. Each level's differences expand beyond the title, with variances in required education, job duties, certification distinctions, career prospects and more. Here's a breakdown of each nursing classification, what you need to do to get there, and career information for each level.
Licensed vocational nurses and licensed practical nurses
Licensed vocational nurses and licensed practical nurses are skilled workers in the healthcare field dedicated to the care of people who are sick, recovering from illness or surgery, injured or disabled. These nurses' duties include measuring and recording vital health information, preparing treatments, dressing wounds, and helping keep patients comfortable.
LPNs and LVNs also can collect samples for analysis, prepare for and perform routine tests, monitor patient reactions to treatment and care, and in some states, start IV fluids, dispense prescribed medication and care for patients on life support and ventilators.
LPNs and LVNs are required to complete an approved training program to be eligible for licensure. Many training programs are offered through community colleges and vocational schools, and can result in an associate degree or a certificate. Courses usually include anatomy and physiology, obstetrics nursing, pediatrics, surgical nursing, pharmacology, first aid and nutrition. LPNS and LVNs are also required to pass the NCLEX-PN to become licensed.
According to information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job prospects for LPNs and LVNs will be very good over the next decade. BLS figures show the mean annual wages of LPNs were $40,900 as of May 2009.
With 2.6 million filling the ranks in this valuable occupation, registered nurses make up the largest sector of all healthcare workers. Regardless of their specialty or the setting, registered nurses care for patients and educate both patients and the public on a wide range of medical conditions.
RNs also document medical histories and symptoms, assist with diagnostic tests and analysis of results, operate medical equipment and dispense treatments and medications. RNs work with physicians on patient care plans and can specialize in a variety of medical fields to offer specific care to patients.
There are three main paths to a career as an RN: a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing, an associate degree in nursing or a certificate. Associate degrees and Bachelor of Science degrees are most common, with the more advanced degree required for most administrative and supervisory positions. Masters degrees in nursing can prepare RNs for other opportunities. Licensure is required for all RNs, and is obtained by passing the NCLEX-RN exam.
The BLS expects job prospects for RNs to be excellent over the next decade and projects nearly 600,000 positions added in this field between 2008 and 2018. BLS data shows the median annual of wages of RNs were $66,530 as of May 2009.
If you're ready to start working toward a nursing degree, certificate or diploma, consider all of the options before deciding which route to take.
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College Up Close:
Upper Iowa University has its main traditional campus in Fayette, Iowa, but it also has several other education centers around the midwest.
They offer a RN to BSN program at several of their locations. Learn more about Upper Iowa University.