Which Nursing Degree Should I Pursue?

NursingApril 09, 2019

Nurses care for patients of all ages, ethnicities, cultural groups and stages of wellness/illness in a variety of clinical settings, providing personalized health care and instructing patients on health practices. They work in hospitals, clinical offices, healthcare clinics, home care facilities, schools, government agencies and even resorts and cruise ships. Ultimately, nurses make a significant impact on their communities.

There are several levels of nursing degrees one can pursue, depending on interests and preferences. Here are the different types of nursing degrees and what each entails:

An ADN (Associate Degree in Nursing) program is designed to provide students with quality academic and clinical instruction on the basics of nursing. ADN programs can typically be completed over two to three years. Students in ADN programs learn how to respond to society's continuing healthcare needs, while acquiring the knowledge and skills required to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). After graduating and passing the NCLEX, students can pursue a career as an entry-level registered nurse.

An  RN (Registered Nurse) provides and coordinates patient care, educates patients and the public about health conditions, and offers emotional support to patients and their families. RNs can specialize in several areas, including, but not limited to:

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics
  • Geriatrics
  • Oncology
  • Diabetic Managemenet
  • Mental Health
  • Public Health
  • Schools
  • Offices

A BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) can require up to four years of study. Many students enroll in a BSN program without any prior nursing experience. Their goal is to graduate on time and then take their licensure exam to become an RN.  Many employers now require their nursing hires to have a BSN or be enrolled in an RN to BSN program,earning their BSN while they work. Working RNs who have already earned an ADN can typically earn a BSN in two years or less with many programs being offered fully online.

Earning a BSN often allows RNs the chance to pursue more specialized areas of nursing, with a range of job titles including:

  • Pediatric Nurse
  • Critical Care Nurse
  • Oncology Nurse
  • Clinical Nurse Manager
  • Research Nurse
  • Nurse Informaticist
  • Clinical Nurse Educator
  • Surgical Nurse
  • Public Health Nurse

A BSN is also a stepping-stone to more advanced nursing roles, including nurse practitioner, nurse midwife or clinical nurse leader.

A MSN (Master of Science in Nursing) encompasses a comprehensive education with a core curriculum consisting of advanced health assessment, advanced pathophysiology concepts and a deeper exploration of pharmacology. MSN programs emphasize culturally appropriate, evidence based nursing practices. MSN programs are typically completed within 15 to 18 months.   

Some institutions offer MSN degree programs in a hybrid learning environment. Some classes are taken online and others are taken on campus or on location as an immersion learning experience if the course is a practicum.  Many other institutions offer their MSN programs as a fully online program, which many working RNs find to be the most convenient given their busy personal and professional lifestyles.

Specific day-to-day duties will depend on official title, the type of facility worked in and areas of specialization. Masters in Nursing career options are versatile and may include:

  • Community Services Manager
  • Department Manager
  • Director of Nursing
  • Healthcare Administrator/Executive
  • Nurse Manager
  • Patient Safety Director
  • Patient or Nursing Educator
  • Staff Development Director
  • QI (Quality Improvement) Executive

Fortis offers a variety of  ADN nursing programs at several campus locations in Florida (Cutler Bay, Orange Park, Pensacola and Port St. Lucie), Indiana (Indianapolis), Ohio (Centerville, Cincinnati, Cuyahoga Falls, Columbus), South Carolina (Columbia), Tennessee (Nashville), Utah (Salt Lake City), and Virginia (Norfolk and Richmond), or through the Denver College of Nursing. If you are interested in pursuing a career in this healthcare field, check out our programs or call 1-855-436-7847 for more information.