There are many levels of nursing, from entry-level to advanced practice and everything in between. As the demand for nurses continues to increase, you can rest assured that your skills will be a valuable asset in all areas of healthcare delivery. Keep reading this quick guide for everything you need to know about the levels of nursing.
Certified Nursing Assistant
Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) work under the direct supervision of a registered or licensed practical nurse and provide basic personal care for patients. CNAs must complete a 4–12 week state-approved training program. Programs are available at local community colleges, vocational schools, technical schools, and local hospitals. On average, certified nursing assistants earn $15 per hour.
Licensed Practical Nurses and Licensed Vocational Nurses
Licensed practical nurses (LPN) or licensed vocational nurses (LVN) are trained to perform basic clinical nursing duties and administer medications in hospitals, nursing homes, and other medical facilities. LPN/LVN programs typically take about a year to complete, and once graduated, LPN/LVN students must pass a state licensure exam. LPN/LVNs can earn an average hourly wage of $23.
Registered nurses are responsible for recording medical history, monitoring symptoms and medical equipment, administering medications, and contributing to the patient’s care plan. Registered nurses work in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, medical offices, and other medical facilities.
Registered nurses can have an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). ADN programs typically take two years, while BSN programs take four years. Both degrees allow registered nurses to sit for a state licensure exam. Registered nurses with an ADN or BSN can earn an average hourly wage of $37.
Advanced Practice Registered Nurses
Advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) work in clinical or academic settings in various specialties, including as nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse midwives, and nurse anesthetists.
To become an APRN, an individual must first have experience working as a registered nurse. Then they must complete a Master of Science in Nursing and all related clinical hours. Once an individual has completed the master’s program and clinical hours, they must pass a national and state licensure exam.
Salary can vary for APRNs depending on the chosen specialty, but on average, APRNs earn around $52 to $65 per hour.
Doctorate of Nursing Practice
A doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) is the highest nursing education available to nurses. A doctoral degree in nursing requires an additional four to six years of research study after completing a bachelor’s degree. Nurses with a Ph.D. often work in the academic setting educating future students and contributing to best-practice nursing research. Depending on the nursing specialty in which a DNP works, the average hourly rate can vary from $48 to $90.
What Is the Right Nursing Path for You?
Nurses can have many educational backgrounds in different specialties. And no matter where you want to work or the type of patients you want to serve, one thing is always true: nurses at every level, from CNA to DNP, are essential to the nursing profession.