Nursing is a great career with so many exciting ways to progress and make it into your own. You can become a specialist and become an advance practice registered nurse and earn six-figure salaries and even run your own clinic. You can go into education and train the next generation of nurses as a professor. You can work on movie sets and on big research projects. Your skillset is in human health, and with the right drive and vision, you can work almost anywhere. Before you can get started on customizing your career, however, you need to get your foot in the door and become a registered nurse.
The good news is that there are four excellent routes into nursing:
1. Associate’s Degree in Nursing
The associate’s degree in nursing used to be the go-to option. Those days are now in the past. While you can still earn an associate’s degree, you should really only consider half of a degree. You can earn your ADN and then take the NCLEX exam to become an RN. Once you become an RN, you should look at enrolling in a BSN program and transferring your credits so that you can then start to finish your BSN. You need this BSN if you ever want to progress and earn an MSN.
2. Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing
If you already have an undergraduate degree and have prerequisite credits in a few key STEM subjects, and you have graduated less than five years ago, then you can transfer those credits and quick-start your career with an accelerated bachelor of science in nursing (ABSN). The University of Indianapolis online ABSN takes just 15 months to complete, and other than the two on-campus residencies and the clinical placement is available online. Graduate fast and start your career with a bang.
3. Part-Time or Full-Time Bachelor of Science in Nursing
If you don’t have an undergraduate degree or enough prerequisite courses to make it cost-effective to go down the ABSN route, you can earn a BSN outright instead. You can tackle this BSN either part-time if you have a career job already that you want to work around or full-time so that you can graduate as soon as possible. All degree options have on-campus residencies and clinical placement requirements, as this is a prerequisite to taking the exam and earning your license.
4. Integrated Nursing Master’s Program
If you want to go above and beyond, there are a few programs out there that allow you to earn your BSN and a master’s. In most cases, you will find that the master’s you earn is not an MSN, meaning that you won’t be qualified as an APRN when you graduate, just an RN. You can, however, earn a master’s in clinical nurse leadership, for example, which would get you ready for a great career path in nurse leadership.
There are new paths opening up every year as states and countries around the world invest in new ways to increase their nurse population. Keep an eye out for these new options so that you always choose the best route into nursing for you.