Nursing as a Career
Which Level or Degree is best to
Christine and I have been nursing for the last fifteen years. We meet when we
started our careers in nursing as licensed practical nurses or L.P.N.s. Since then we have
both worked in various settings. We have worked in long-term care settings, also known
as nursing homes, acute care settings or a hospital, and in a visiting nurse environment.
We both have uniquely different experiences and duties and have seen many changes in
the field of nursing over the years. Throughout the years there have been more duties and
responsibilities placed on the licensed practical nurse. During the last year we have
returned to school to obtain our degree in nursing. We explored the different options
available to us. We have researched the different degrees avenues, which would enhance
our future in nursing. In this paper we would like to discuss the diversity in levels of
nursing and degrees available to nursing to show how a higher degree can be most
rewarding in furthering a career in nursing.
We would like to start our comparison of the different levels of nursing with
discussing the work and salaries of the licensed practical nurse. The training for a
licensed practical nurse last approximately one to one and half years in a
vocational/technical school or junior college. The training involves classroom work with
extensive training in the clinical setting which includes the hospital, nursing home or
personnel care environment. Once the requirements are fulfilled for graduation from the
course a passing grade must be obtained on a licensing examination before a person can
work as a licensed practical nurse. Licensed practical nurses must learn how to administer
care to patients, which include activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, and
grooming. The licensed practical nurse works under the direction of the registered nurse
or registered nurse and reports any abnormal findings for the patient to the registered
nurse so he or she can notify the patient’s physician of the changes in the patient’s
condition. The licensed practical nurse can administer medications, intravenous therapy
or perform treatment on a wound for the patient.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2002 approximately 702,00
nursing jobs were held by licensed practical nurses. Hospitals employed 28% of the
licensed practical nurse. Nursing homes employed 26% and 12% of licensed practical
nurses worked in a physician’s office. The median income for licensed practical nurse in
2002 was $ 31,440 with the largest amount of income of $40,550 being in employment
services or agency work. Licensed practical nurses earned approximately $32,850 in
home health care services or visiting nurses, $32,220 with nursing care facilities or
nursing homes, $30,310 with hospitals, and $28,710 in physician’s offices. With the
nursing shortage becoming more pronounced, we have noticed an increase in the duties,
such as taking orders from the physician, being delegated to the licensed practical nurse.
This increase in duties to the licensed practical nurse is necessary in order to provide
quality care to the patient’s of the community. There has not been with the increase in
duties an increase in the salary provided for the licensed practical nurse. We both have
had the desire to give our patients the care they are receiving but also be able to advance
our careers. We have researched which level of nursing would comparable to the amount
of work that is being delegated to the licensed practical nurse and how we could better
our quality of care to our patients. In this next section we would like to investigate the
different levels and degrees available for the registered nurse and compare the salaries in
Registered Nurses can work in settings similar to licensed practical nurses. A
registered nurse can work in hospitals, nursing homes, visiting nurses, and physician’s
offices. More employment choices are available to a registered nurse than a licensed
practical nurse, such as public health nursing. A public health nurse can work in agencies,
both public and governmental, schools and clinics. The registered nurse can work in the
community providing health screenings and education to the public. A registered nurse
can advance to an administrative and supervisory position, which involves the directing
of all nursing activities in a facility or in the community. A registered nurse can with
further education and training work as nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse
anesthesiologist, and certified nurse-midwives. Registered nurses in these specialties are
able to work independently of a physician and in some circumstances are able to
prescribe medications to patients.
There are several different directions, a person considering entering the career as
a registered nurse, can take in their education. A registered nurse can graduate from a
diploma program, which is a two to three year program offered through hospitals. This
type of education is virtually obsolete has been replaced with degrees offered at mostly
all colleges. A registered nurse can obtain an associate degree, which is usually offered at
community or junior colleges and can be achieved in approximately two years. The other
kind of degree offered for registered nurses is a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. A
Bachelor of Science degree can be obtained in approximately four to five years at various
colleges and universities. After the appropriate training and education has been achieved
it is necessary to pass a licensure examination to obtain a license to practice nursing in
your state of employment.
According to the Bureau of Labor, in 2001 the average yearly salary for a
registered nurse was $48,240. The lowest salary earned, for a registered nurse, was
$33,110 and the highest salary earned was $67,180. Registered nurses who attained an
associate degree earned $43,000 and a registered nurse with a Bachelor of Science degree
earned $46,500 yearly. In the registered nurse statistics fact sheet put out by the
American Association of Critical Care Nurses, in 2002, nurses who have attained a
higher level of education, such as Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nurse Anesthesiologist,
Nurse Practitioners, and nurses midwives the pay rate was significantly increased. The
average salary for a Clinical Nurse Specialist was $51,089. A Nurse Practitioner and
Midwife received a yearly salary of $55,014 and a nurse Anesthesiologist received a
yearly salary of $86,319. Through the following statistics we can see the financial
benefits of furthering your education levels in the nursing fields.
When Chris and I decided we were going to continue on with our education in the
field of nursing we carefully investigated the best way we would be able to better care for
our patient’s as well as which choice would be financially beneficial. We agreed that with
a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing we would be putting or capabilities to their full
potential as well as making a decent living to support or growing families. Money can be
a large motivator in making career choices we make in our lives. Chris and I both agree
that it is our love for nursing, and our desire to give the best possible care to our patients,
that is the utmost motivating factor for continuing our education at the Bachelor of
Science degree level of nursing.
American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. “ Registered Nurse Statistics Fact
1e21/e4c36bal,html (June 25, 2004).
Nursing in Tennessee. “ Nursing Salaries.”
http://www.nursing-education-tn.org/c7.htm (June25, 2004).
Nurse Your Career. “Useful Nursing Career Statistics.”
http://www.wwnurse.com/nursing/career_stats.shtml (July12, 2004).
U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Licensed Practical and
Vocational Nurses.” http://stats.bls.gov/oco/ocos102.htm (June 25, 2004).
Choices in Nursing.ppt