Being a nurse is one of the noblest careers in the world. The word nursing is recognized by people of all ages, clans, and systems. Many understand how the profession works at face value. Like every other profession, nursing is not without its levels and specializations.
The nursing profession has different levels to serve as a roadmap for developing your skills, clinical knowledge, and general expertise as a health practitioner. But, a lack of understanding generally exists about the wide variety of specialties and credentials available for nurses.
Whether you want to become a nurse or an APRN with numerous years of experience, it is essential to understand the levels and progressive system in the nursing vocation.
Many levels must be considered. The higher the degree, by and large, a nurse's level, the more schooling and experience they have gotten. Between becoming a fully-fledged nurse or a medical practitioner, many levels must be regarded.
Before advancing more profoundly into the nursing levels, let us first discuss the three categories of nurses we have; we will then discuss the levels of nursing in light of these three categories.
1. Non-degree Nurse: These are the nurses who have completed an education program in nursing, but this program is not degree-based. They are the certified nursing assistants (CNAs)and also the licensed practical nurses (LPNs)
2. Degree Nurse: These include nurses who have an undergraduate degree in nursing examples are the Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
3. Advance degree Nurse: These are the nurses with a graduate degree in nursing like the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).
This is an entry-level into the nursing profession; CNAs work typically at home, and they work under registered nurses and work closely with the patient to ensure their well-being and health status.
CNAs also alert nurses in the case of emergencies; they help patients with their daily needs such as eating, bathing, dressing, etc. CNAs record patients' volume of food and liquid consumption; they also measure and take readings of vital signs such as temperature, oxygen levels, blood pressure, etc.
To become a CNA, one must have a high school diploma or a GED and complete a state-approved CNA program for 3 to 8 weeks with training hours and practical's. Then a state-approved certification exam would be written to earn the CNA title and certificate.
As of 2020, CNAs earned median wages of $30,850, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs for nursing assistants will grow by 8% between 2020-2030, leading to the creation of more than 115,000 new jobs — in addition to those that become available due to job turnover.
These nurses administer primary patient care and nursing to patients in the hospitals to perform tasks like inserting catheters, checking blood pressure, changing bandages, administering medications, and taking reports of the patients back to the doctor or registered nurse for proper examination. LPNs are also called Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs)
To become an LPN, one must earn a diploma or certificate from a state-approved program which takes 8 to 12 months to be completed; the program covers everything from basic nursing skills to sanitation, safety, infection control, and basic health science concepts.
Graduates must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) to obtain a license and begin work as an LPN.
LPNs earn a median wage of about $50,090 per year.
Registered nurses are very different from CNAs because they have other responsibilities, such as overseeing the CNAs and LPNs; they collaborate with medical doctors.
They also identify patients' needs, monitor the medical schedule and treatment, record the patient's symptoms, and relate more with the patient than the medical doctors.
Before becoming a Registered Nurse, you must have a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN), an Associate's degree in nursing or an Associate of Science in nursing, and a diploma in nursing from a hospital or medical center NCLEX-RN.
They make an average median wage of $82,750 in 2021.
APRNs provide primary care, advise the public on health issues, and manage chronic disease, so they require a higher level of education than the Registered nurse.
To become an APRN, one must have completed a Master of Science in Nursing program, ended a clinical practice experience, passed a national certification examination, and applied for licensure in their state of practice.
APRNs earn $108,718 per year.
This is an advanced degree for registered nurses; it also prepares nurses to seek a higher position in the nursing field, such as nurse administrators, clinical nurse leaders, etc. They earn an average of $115,800 per year.
Higher levels like Doctor of Nursing Practice and Nurse Manager and Executives also exist. The Doctor of Nursing Practice is not a role but a degree earned to become a nurse administrator.
Similarly, the Nurse Manager and Executives also help with strategic planning for hundreds of patients.
Never be afraid to ask questions; no one is an island of knowledge. We learn every day as we move through our day-to-day activities in the medical field, so always ask questions from your colleagues or supervisors.
As a nurse, you should lean on other nurses with more experience than you and understand that you cannot know everything, so work with your colleagues to learn more.
Make the patient your priority in all you do, take care of the patient the way you would like to be taken care of, make friends with them, talk to them, and understand them; that will make your job very easy.
Be willing to learn and pay attention to every detail, and be humble enough to learn from anyone, even from those who are like junior colleagues to you.
In this article, we have gone through the levels and hierarchical structure of the nursing profession. While attaining the peak of your career comes with hardships and challenges, great satisfaction comes from saving patient lives.
Nursing at whatever level is a profession for the brave. Therefore, no matter what level you find yourself, you make the world a healthier place for every patient you treat