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Nursing isn’t known as an easy career path. Working as a nurse can be stressful and emotionally draining, though it can also be equally rewarding. One thing about a nursing career that doesn’t have to be difficult is figuring out an education option that works for you. There are a number of different paths into a nursing career, including undergraduate programs, that can help you quickly learn what you need to know to get started as a nurse.
Practical Nursing Programs
The easiest role you can have as a nurse is that of a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or licensed vocational nurse (LVN). LPNs and LVNs work under registered nurses (RNs), providing basic nursing care. LPNs and LVNs work in settings such as nursing homes, hospitals, doctors’ offices and home healthcare services.
To get started in the field of nursing, practical and vocational nurses need a diploma or certificate from an educational program approved by their state’s board of nursing. These programs can be found at community colleges, technical schools, hospitals and even some high schools. Completing an LPN or LVN program usually takes around a year to complete, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
An LPN or LVN preparation program is the easiest type of nursing education you can pursue, because it focuses on training for basic nursing services only and is so quick to complete. However, aspiring LPNs and LVNs still need to take coursework in studies such as biology, pharmacology and nursing. They also need to meet clinical experience requirements through supervised hands-on work providing patient care.
LPNs and LVNs earn a median salary of $45,030 per year.
Associate’s Degrees in Nursing (ADNs)
As true nursing degree programs go, the easiest one out there is the ADN. An associate’s degree program can prepare you for a career as a registered nurse, but you should know that this degree meets only the bare minimum requirement for qualification as an RN. In fact, more than 50 years ago, the American Nurses Association recommended that all registered nurses attain a bachelor’s degree.
Associate’s degrees are still common among new RNs. In fact, as many as 60 percent of registered nurses start out with an ADN degree, the journal Global Qualitative Nursing Research reported. Yet there’s no denying that the ADN degree is the easy option due to its shorter time to complete and less extensive and in-depth coursework requirements. A traditional ADN degree takes two years of study, though accelerated programs can allow students to finish their degrees faster. In an ADN degree program, you will take the same basic core nursing classes as a BSN student, including courses in microbiology, physiology, anatomy and chemistry. You must also complete clinical requirements. However, you will miss out on taking valuable courses like health management and leadership, public health and nursing research that are offered in BSN programs but not ADN programs.
But BSN programs include some courses that aren’t in ADN programs. They round-out their programs with an emphasis on public health, management and leadership, nursing research and physical and social sciences. The additional courses are meant to provide students with more professional development and a heightened understanding of the issues affecting patient care and healthcare delivery.
Though hospitals employ more than 60 percent of RNs and are among the highest paying employers of registered nurses, they are also more likely than other employers to require job applicants to have a BSN degree.
RN to BSN Degree Programs
If you chose to start your nursing career with an ADN but decided that you do want to continue your education, you are in luck. Many nursing schools offer RN to BSN degree options to make it easier for busy, working registered nurses to attain their bachelor’s degree in nursing.
RN to BSN programs are only open to licensed registered nurses. They build on the knowledge you already have from your ADN or diploma program. As a result, they take far less time than it would take if you had to start over as a college freshman. Some RN to BSN programs take two years of study – when combined with the time spent earning your associate’s degree, the equivalent of one four-year program. Other RN to BSN programs are offered in accelerated formats or are more generous with awarding transfer credit and can be completed in as little as 12 months or less.
Online RN to BSN degree programs are an option, though applicants should know that practical experience is still required even for programs that offer fully online coursework.
Every nursing degree has its own challenges. Choosing an “easy” nursing degree may allow you to complete your education sooner or to avoid having to take extra courses. However, you should still be prepared for selective admissions requirements, a rigorous curriculum and a licensing process that includes passing a national credentialing exam.