"Constant attention by a good nurse may be just as important as a major operation by a surgeon," said Dag Hammarskjold, former secretary of the UN. Nurses do provide the basic foundation of health care. As a nurse, you would educate patients and offer advice and support to patients' families. You could work alongside physicians and other professionals to give patients the best possible medical treatment.
Earning bachelor's degrees in nursing science
You can choose from different types of nursing degrees, for example:
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing includes two years of general education coursework plus two years of nursing education.
- LPN to BSN program gives credit toward the bachelor's degree for active licensed practical or vocational nurses.
- RN to BSN bridge offers credit toward a bachelor's degree for those with an active registered nursing license.
General education courses span English, humanities, natural and social science, mathematics and fine arts. The nursing curriculum may cover anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology, nutrition, organic chemistry, psychology, physiology, pharmacology, health assessment and mental health. Related classes could explore nursing care for adults, children and adolescents, as well as nursing leadership and management.
Nursing career options, outlook and salaries
Nurses work in many settings -- physicians' offices, hospitals, schools, health care facilities and home health care -- and in many specialties -- emergency care, pediatrics, geriatrics, surgery and more.
Health care is one of the largest and fastest growing industry sectors in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Close to 3.5 million nurses were employed in 2010, and the BLS expects that number to rise to 4.4 million by 2020. Here are some related professions shown with the 2010-2020 projected growth rates and 2010 median salaries reported by the BLS:
- Health educators: 36.5 percent; $45,830
- Licensed practical or vocational nurses: 22.4 percent; $40,380
- Medical and health services managers: 22.4 percent; $84,270
- Registered nurses: 26.0 percent; $64,690
Nurses who plan to specialize or move into nursing administration often earn master's degrees. Those interested in research and postsecondary teaching typically seek doctorates.
Because bachelor's degrees in nursing science generally require a clinical practice component on site, online programs are typically hybrid offerings that blend web-based coursework with experience in the field. Hybrid programs can provide a convenient way to continue working in your current job while you complete your nursing degree.