By: Staff Writer

Online nursing degrees from accredited universities and schools.


What is Nursing?

As a profession, nursing focuses on the direct medical care and assistance given to individuals and families for prevention, diagnosis and cure of diseases, injuries and other health concerns. In many respects, nursing is based on the ideal of service to one’s fellow beings, often characterized with the willingness to perform under demanding circumstances requiring sacrifice of one’s own time and comfort for the well-being of others. Because of this and the intense education often required, nurses tend to command a high amount of respect in our society.

Nursing Degrees

The avenues open to pursuit in the field of nursing are wide and varied. Degrees are most often offered in the associate to master’s range in professions such as such as forensic nurse, legal nurse, registered nurse, vocational nurse and more. Nursing designations include:

  • Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) — Usually requires a year’s training. Work is under the direction of physicians and registered nurses. In addition to providing routine bedside care, LPNs in nursing care facilities help to evaluate residents’ needs, develop care plans, and supervise the care provided by nursing aides. In doctors’ offices and clinics, they also may make appointments, keep records, and perform other clerical duties.
  • Registered Nurse (RN) – There are three major educational paths to registered nursing: A bachelor’s of science degree in nursing (BSN), an associate degree in nursing (ADN), and a diploma. BSN programs, offered by colleges and universities, take about 4 years to complete. ADN programs, offered by community and junior colleges, take about 2 to 3 years to complete. Diploma programs, administered in hospitals, last about 3 years. Registered nurses (RNs), regardless of specialty or work setting, perform basic duties that include treating patients, educating patients and the public about various medical conditions, and providing advice and emotional support to patients’ family members. RNs record patients’ medical histories and symptoms, help to perform diagnostic tests and analyze results, operate medical machinery, administer treatment and medications, and help with patient follow-up and rehabilitation.
  • Nursing Aides and Home Health Aides – In many cases, a high school diploma or equivalent is necessary for a job as a nursing or psychiatric aide. However, a high school diploma generally is not required for jobs as home health aides. Nursing aides perform routine tasks under the supervision of nursing and medical staff. For example, they answer patients’ call lights, deliver messages, serve meals, make beds, and help patients to eat, dress, and bathe. Home health aides help elderly, convalescent, or disabled persons live in their own homes instead of in a health care facility.

The path you choose must, of course, be based on your personal desires, goals and time commitments.

Job Opportunities with a Nursing Degree

The U.S. Department of Labor provides the following additional information:

  • Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) — Jobs are expected to grow as fast as the average for all professions over the next few years. The average annual salary in 2004 was $33,970.
  • Registered Nurse (RN) — Job opportunities are expected to grow much faster than the average for all professions. The average annual salary in 2004 was $52,330.
  • Nursing Aides and Home Health Aides – Job opportunities are expected to grow much faster than the average for all professions. The median hourly earnings of nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants were $10.09 and the median hourly earnings of home health aides were $8.81 in 2004.