NURSING CAREER PATHS
Nursing offers you the opportunity to         Certified Nurse Assistant
create a career path filled with many          Most employers require CNAs to complete mandatory training courses with a
personal and professional rewards. By         passing competency evaluation. Most programs take less than 100 hours and
planning the path you want to take,           cover skills for daily hygiene, bedside care, vital-sign measurement, common
you will understand the requirements          health problems and chronic illnesses. In the St. Louis metropolitan area, employ-
and choices along the way. Consider           ment for CNAs is abundant in long-term care facilities. Hospitals also employ
the many options in nursing and find a         basic patient care aides who are willing to learn advanced skills.
good fit for you.
                                              Licensed Practical Nurse                                            CNA
What does it take?                            Most practical nursing programs take less than one year           program
To become a nurse, you must com-              and include both classroom and clinicals, which is the
plete a state-approved nursing program        term used for supervised patient care. Coursework includes
and pass a licensing exam called the          anatomy, physiology, nutrition, first aid, administration of        LPN
NCLEX. All nursing programs require           drugs, obstetrics and pediatrics. LPNs typically provide         program
a high school diploma or its equivalent.      the greatest amount of direct patient care. LPNs are
Schools’ entrance requirements vary and       in great demand in long-term care facilities, home care
may include a standardized test, such as                                                                      NCLEX-PN
                                              and clinics. In hospitals, the trend is to use more R.N.s
the ACT. Recommended high school                                                                                 exam
                                              and fewer LPNs. The demand for LPNs in the
courses include science, math, English        St. Louis area is projected to increase 4 percent
and social studies.                           during this decade.                                         BSN           ADN
                                                                                                        program       program
Where do I start?                             Registered Nurse
There is not a typical career path. You       There are two basic nursing education programs to become            NCLEX-RN
can start directly in a registered nurse      an R.N. Associate degree in nursing (ADN) programs are                exam
(R.N.) program, or you may want to            two-year programs that include general studies and nursing
start in a licensed practical nurse (LPN)     education. A bachelor degree in nursing (BSN) is a four-year                R.N. to
or a certified nurse assistant (CNA) pro-      program that also includes general studies and nursing education             BSN
gram. Because LPN and CNA programs            while focusing on leadership development. Coursework includes              program
require less initial education, you can       anatomy, physiology, nutrition, pharmacology, clinical skills, obstetrics,
start working sooner. Many nurses who         pediatrics, community nursing and leadership skills.
do this continue their education and
earn while they learn. Knowing the edu-       BSN completion programs are designed for nurses who want to continue beyond
cation and license needed for the work        their ADN degree. Accelerated baccalaureate programs are designed for individu-
you want to do will help you decide           als seeking a BSN who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field. These
what type of school to attend.                programs take one to two years. The demand for R.N.s in St. Louis is projected to
                                              increase 17 percent during this decade.
Questions to Ask
•   What are my goals?                        Graduate Education
•   Will I need to work part time or full     A master’s degree can prepare you for work as an advanced practice nurse (APN) in
    time while attending school?              a specific area — clinical nurse specialist, nurse practitioner or certified registered
                                              nurse anesthetist. Other master of science in nursing (MSN) degree programs
•   Do I want online course options?          can prepare you to work as an educator in a hospital or nursing school; work as
                                              a nurse leader, administrator or executive; work in public health nursing; or in
•   What skills would I like to attain?
                                              health care informatics. Many additional post-master’s certificates and doctoral
•   What are my strengths/interests?          programs prepare nurses for other exciting roles and settings.

Visit for more information about St. Louis nursing
schools, employers and local scholarships, as well as links to local and national
organizations and resources about the nursing profession.
 Nurses Enjoy Many Career Opportunities
              From Boot Camp to P.T. to R.N.                                    Blessed By Career And Family
              Jean Oxenfeld, St. Anthony’s Medical Center                       Marsha Harwood, SSM St. Mary’s Health Center
               “Becoming an R.N. later in life wasn’t a stretch                “I began my first career in medicine working
               for me because I’ve been in the medical field                    as an EKG tech. Later, I became a medical
               since I was 18. Immediately after high school,                  assistant and a paramedic. Then, I stayed
I went to boot camp and later graduated from the Navy             home with my children during their grade school years and
Hospital Corps school. Then, I was a physical therapy             eventually began taking a few prerequisites throughout sev-
assistant for 15 years before becoming a registered nurse.        eral semesters. At age 40, I entered nursing school — one
Going to nursing school while working as a PTA got me             of the most rewarding achievements of my life. Now, I
where I am today — an R.N. in general medicine. I plan to         work full time as a cardiac R.N. I truly love seeing patients
continue the nursing career path, wherever it takes me.”          recover and regain good health.”

              Opportunities Are Unlimited                                       Second Career Is Extra Rewarding
              Linda Stefano, St. Anthony’s Medical Center                       Tara Reddy, R.N., St. John’s Mercy Medical Center
               “Starting nursing school with three small                         “I graduated with my first bachelor’s degree in
               children and limited finances is a testimony                       1997, then returned to school nine years later
               to my passion for the profession. Because I                       for my second career — nursing. The BSN
worried about committing to four years of school, I started       accelerated program at St. Louis University appealed to me,
out as an LPN. Taking advantage of tuition reimburse-             and now I work in a medical intensive care unit. The work
ment, I earned associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees         is very satisfying, and my employer offers a fantastic loan
in nursing. I’ve worked in a skilled nursing facility, on a       forgiveness program.”
general hospital nursing floor, in critical care nursing, on
a step-down unit, in both hospital and college nursing                          It’s Worth the Climb
education, in a public health clinic, at an urgent care center                  Chris Kamp, Saint Anthony’s Health Center
and in a doctor’s office. Each area offered new challenges
and taught me new skills. I enjoy the fact that opportunities                 “I started as a CNA when I was 16. At 20,
in nursing are limitless because no patient and no job are                    I became an LPN and worked for two years
the same.”                                                                    before attending R.N. school at Lewis and
                                                                  Clark Community College in Godfrey, Ill. I graduated at
                                                                  age 25. Now, I’m a nurse manager.”
              Persistence Pays Off
              Barb Renner, BJC Corporate Health
                                                                  Where will I work?
             “For more than 20 years, I worked on the             As these testimonials demonstrate, nursing offers unlim-
             prerequisites for nursing school. In December        ited possibilities. Hospitals, doctors’ clinics, community/
             2004, I began the nursing program at the             public service, outpatient facilities, nursing homes, rehabili-
University of Missouri – St. Louis, with classes held at          tation facilities, long-term care, home health, schools and
St. Charles Community College. The BJC tuition reim-              colleges, research, insurance and legal settings are just some
bursement plan helped make my dream a reality when                of the options available.
I graduated this year. Soon, I’ll begin classes to earn my
master’s degree. Why stop now?”                                   Nurses have lots of flexibility in their working hours. A
                                                                  hospital shift can be 8 to 12 hours. Some nurses work
              Early Dreams Can Be Fulfilled                        36 hours in three days or 40 hours in four days and then
              Jason Stacey, St. Luke’s Hopsital                   have three to four days off. Others may choose to work
                                                                  part time or only on weekends.
              “In high school, I took a course called orien-
              tation to health occupations. I enjoyed it so       The demand for nurses is projected to remain high. This
              much I knew I wanted to get into health care        leads to job security and advancement opportunities, as
at age 17. I became a CNA, and I found that experience so         well as attractive salaries and
fulfilling I became an R.N. I’ve spent my entire nursing ca-       benefits packages.
reer at St. Luke’s, and now I’m an associate head nurse. By
taking advantage of the hospital’s loan forgiveness program,
I was able to make the dreams of my youth a reality.”

To top