Since the average life span in developed countries is higher now than it’s ever been, the need for nurses and other health care workers will remain high. An online nursing degree can help educate students out of high school or older career changers for this ever-changing field and prepare them to meet state licensing requirements. Different kinds of nurses meet different health care needs.
Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) take state board exams and earn their license in about a year to 18 months time. They can perform many tasks related to patient care, like taking vital signs, bathing, and changing dressings, but they cannot administer IV narcotics or other regulated medications. Registered Nurses (RNs), on the other hand, have more responsibility than LPNs. They can administer narcotic medications and are charged with interpreting the medical data they collect regarding vitals and symptoms in order to decide upon an appropriate course of action. Both LPNs and RNs have a variety of job possibilities available to them in hospitals, doctor’s offices, urgent care centers, and in home-based care situations.
Employment Outlook in Nursing Degree
Job opportunities for LPN’s will grow14% by 2016, which is faster than the national average of 12%. But the demand for RN’s will be even greater by growing an amazing 23% by 2016. Some of these opportunities will be in traditional hospital environments, but there will not be tremendous growth in the number of patients hospitals care for. However, there will be an even greater demand for nurses to work in doctor’s offices and outpatient care centers due to the greater number of procedures now performed outside of hospitals. Also, they will be many opportunities for in-home health care because of the increased number of elderly people in the U.S. Despite the great demand for RN’s, the competition for positions in doctor’s offices will be great because they usually offer more regular work hours than nursing positions in hospitals.
LPN’s earned a median salary of $36,500 in May of 2006. In contrast, RN’s earned a median salary of $57,000 with the highest paid RN’s earning close to $83,500. Naturally, the higher pay for RN’s over LPN’s is a function of the greater responsibility and complex decision-making that they must engage in.
Educational Requirements in Nursing Degree
LPN’s require far less education than RN’s, but both must past state licensing exams. Approved LPN programs last only about one to one and a half years, and some nurses become LPN’s before going back to school to become RN’s. Conversely, RN’s have three different educational possibilities. These include a diploma, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree. Diploma programs are offered through hospitals, take about three years to complete, and do not result in a degree. Associate degrees are generally offered by community colleges and take 2-3 years to complete, and bachelor’s degrees are offered by universities and take 4 years to complete.
Online degree programs are available at each of these levels
Another option is the completion of an online master’s degrees, which usually takes an additional 2 years after the bachelor of science degree is earned. This advanced online nursing degree is available for those who seek higher levels of responsibility in their nursing careers. Another alternative for those who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field but now wish to enter nursing is the “accelerated” bachelor of science degree. This usually takes about 12 to 18 months to complete. Regardless of which online nursing degree is chosen, it is clear that degreed nurses, as opposed to those who complete diploma programs only, have many more job opportunities and earn much higher salaries.