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Nursing Schools and Programs

In 2013, nurses topped the annual Honesty and Ethics Gallup poll for the 14th straight year. More than 80 percent of Americans surveyed said nurses had "high" or "very high" ethical standards.

The level of trust isn't surprising given nurses tend to be the face of the health care system. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses are the largest professional group within the U.S. health care industry, numbering more than 2.6 million. And their number is expected to rise dramatically in the coming years. Online nursing degree programs can help nurses get their foot in the door or further their career.

Careers in nursing

According to the BLS, nurses perform a range of functions, depending on degree level:

  • Certified nurse assistants and licensed practical nurses may be responsible for monitoring vital signs, administering medication and helping with basic care
  • Registered nurses take medical histories, provide patient education and develop nursing care plans.
  • Advanced practice nurses may evaluate and diagnose patients, provide well-patient exams and, depending on the state they're working in, prescribe medication.

Nurses with a background in management may also find work in nursing administration.

Nurses have a wide variety of options for specialization and places of employment. They can typically find positions everywhere from hospitals to schools. In 2012, 61 percent of all registered nurses worked in hospitals according to the BLS.

Nursing education and training

Online nursing degrees are available at a range of levels. Since much of the training is hands-on, a number of programs offer a hybrid approach to the degree. Licensed practical and vocational nurses can generally earn their degree with one year of training, which includes supervised clinical work.

Registered nurses can usually choose from the following three options:

  1. Hospital-based diploma program
  2. Associate degree in nursing
  3. Bachelor's degree in nursing

Advanced practice nurses must have a master's degree. Some online nursing degrees, such as accelerated BSN or MSN programs, are designed for individuals who have already earned a degree and want to further their education while continuing to work full time in a health care setting.

Nursing career outlook and salary

BLS projections expect employment of licensed practical and vocational nurses to grow by 21 percent from 2008 to 2018, while employment for registered nurses is projected to grow 22 percent during the same time period.

This growth can be attributed to several health care trends expected in the coming years, including an aging population, advances in medical technology and more patients who prefer treatment at home.

Numbers from the BLS place median annual wage for licensed practical or vocational nurses at $41,920 in 2013.. Registered nurses made a median annual salary of $66,220 in the same year.

Sources

"29-2061 Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, September 10, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292061.htm

"29-1141 Registered Nurses," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, September 10, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm

"Honesty/Ethics in Professions," Gallup, December 8, 2013, http://www.gallup.com/poll/1654/honesty-ethics-professions.aspx

"Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, September 10, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/licensed-practical-and-licensed-vocational-nurses.htm

"Registered Nurses," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, September 10, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm




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