Which Nursing Degree Should I Pursue?

NursingApril 01, 2020


You’ve been thinking about a career in nursing for a while now. A career focused on caring for others is something you’ve always been interested in — and now, more than ever before, you see how important nurses are to our healthcare system. Nursing is a satisfying profession that lets you fulfill your passion of helping others, and the need and market demand for nurses continues to grow. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job forecast for nurses over the next decade is growing at more than twice the rate of other professions. 

Nurses care for patients of all ages, ethnicities, cultural groups and stages of wellness/illness. They also work in practically every healthcare setting – from all types of clinical environments where they provide personalized health care and instruct patients on health practices, to hospitals and outpatient facilities, assisted living centers and nursing homes, schools, government agencies and more. Ultimately, nurses make a significant impact on their communities. 

There are several levels of nursing degrees one can pursue, depending on interests and preferences. Which one is right for you? 

An ADN (Associate Degree in Nursing) program is designed to provide students with quality academic and clinical instruction on the basics of nursing to prepare to become an RN upon graduation and licensure. 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. During their careers, RNs can specialize in several areas, including, but not limited to: 

  • Surgery 
  • Pediatrics 
  • Geriatrics 
  • Oncology 
  • Diabetic Management 
  • 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 the NCLEX 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 and many programs are 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 often also a stepping-stone to more advanced nursing roles, including nurse practitioner, nurse midwife or clinical nurse leader. 

A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) 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 fully online, 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  and areas of specialization. Career options for nurses with Masters degrees 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), and 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.  

In response to COVID-19 and following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and local, state and federal authorities, Fortis has transitioned to online and remote delivery of classes for all students. Fortis admissions teams have also transitioned to remote interview and enrollment processes, so prospective students do not need to visit the campus at this time​. More info can be found here:   

Call today to begin your education in nursing!