In 2010, nurses scored high in the annual Honesty and Ethics Gallup poll as having high or very high ethical standards. Nurses are the face of the health care system, and opportunities in the field are growing. In this career, you can choose from many options for specializations and places of employment, ranging from hospitals to schools. Online nursing degree programs can help you get your foot in the door or further your career in health services.
Careers in nursing
Nurses fulfill a range of functions, depending on their degree level. Certified nurse assistants and licensed practical nurses may monitor vital signs, administer medication and help with basic care. Registered nurses take medical histories, provide patient education and develop nursing care plans. Advanced practice nurses may evaluate and diagnose patients or provide well-patient exams. Nurses with a background in management can enter nursing administration.
Nursing education and training
Since much of the training is hands-on, most online nursing degree programs offer a hybrid approach to the degree. Licensed practical and vocational nurses can generally earn their degree with one year of training, which includes supervised clinical work.
Registered nurses can choose from various training options:
- Hospital-based diploma program
- Associate degree in nursing
- Bachelor's degree in nursing
Advanced practice nurses must have a master's degree. Some online nursing degrees, such as the accelerated BSN or MSN programs, are designed for nurses who have already earned a degree and want to further their education while continuing to work full time in health care.
Nursing employment growth and salary
The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects jobs for licensed practical and vocational nurses to grow by 22 percent from 2010 to 2020, compared to a 26 percent rise for RNs. This increase reflects health care trends such as an aging population, advances in medical technology and more patients who prefer home care. The mean annual wage for LPNs and LVNs was $41,360 in 2010, while RNs made $67,720, the BLS reports.