Nursing is an incredibly rewarding profession and continues to offer career progression opportunities in a way many industries still don’t. It wasn’t very long ago in our history that women had to make a choice between a career and a family and often having a baby meant forfeiting an existing career. Fortunately, this is no longer the case for most women. Advances in delivering affordable childcare and the rise of online degrees mean that new mothers can begin studying for a degree part-time (or full-time if they’re feeling brave) with a view to returning to work and aiming for a promotion.
Depending on what level you are currently working at there will be a few different degree options for nurses. Below is a quick guide to the different degrees available to help you choose the right one for you. This guide assumes you already have at least an LPN or LVN (the most basic nursing qualification on offer).
Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
The ADN is the first step up for most nurses and allows them to fulfill a more senior role, including the supervision of junior nurses. Much of the training for an ADN involves practical work, but this is still possible to complete through an online university. Many training hospitals across the country will gladly pair with educational institutions to provide a safe environment for trainee nurses to learn in. Passing the licensing examination at the ADN level opens higher salaried positions and makes finding work much easier.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
The BSN takes longer to complete than an ADN, usually around four years in total, and will require students to complete a clinical residency with an accredited hospital. For nurses looking to further their careers, the BSN is a great goal to aim for and is particularly valued by international students, as it is a credential that will be recognized around the globe.
There are some universities which offer an accelerated BSN program that lasts 12-18 months and this is a great option for those who don’t mind learning under pressure. Of course, the accelerated program is a more demanding course and it is up to you to decide whether you’re up to the task while looking after a young child.
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
The DNP replaces the older MSN (master of science of nursing) and represents the peak of nursing related qualifications. The DNP online prepares nurses for entering the field of their chosen specialty and allows them to apply for the highest-ranking positions amongst nurses. An online DNP program is a smart investment for a new mother who is already trained to BSN level and is considering a move into a family practitioner role. An online DNP can last anywhere from 18-30 months, making it a relatively short course.
Nurses looking for career progression opportunities should consider studying, either online or offline, the appropriate degree to allow them to apply for more senior positions. The flexible nature of online degrees makes them a realistic choice, even for those with childcare commitments.