Should I Be a Nurse? Get Help Deciding Your Career Path21 February 2019
So you think you might want to be a nurse…
First, ask yourself why.
Many students have had the “calling” for years before they enter a nursing program. For these students, the decision is not whether to enter nursing school, but rather which type or level of nursing education they should pursue.
If you are not one of those that have had the “calling” for years, first, ask yourself if it is nursing you want or do you just want to enter the health care field?
Read more to learn about different levels of nursing education as well as similar alternative career paths you could potentially take.
Is Licensed Practical Nursing Right for You?
The Practical or Vocational Nurse (or LPN or LVN after licensure) is the entry level for nursing. Usually, it only requires a high school diploma or GED and can be completed in about 1 year.
This choice is ideal for applicants with no prior health care background or nursing assistants (CNAs) who wish to progress in the nursing field.
Because of its relatively short duration, the costs tend to be less than higher level nursing programs.
The LPN option can also be a good fit for persons who have delayed returning to school because they chose to work and/or raise children.
Advanced Nursing Programs
Registered Nurse programs vary from 2 years for an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN or AAS) to 4+ years for a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). Admission to these programs tend to highly competitive and many require pre-requisites in math and science.
How to Choose a Nursing Program
All nursing programs are demanding. They require time for classes and time for studying.
Which should you choose? That decision should be based on prior preparation, time, money, and responsibilities. Your ultimate career goal is a major factor to consider as well.
Medical Assisting: A Nursing Alternative
It is not unusual for first time nursing students to have the wrong impression of nursing.
Many potential students think that nurses’ primary responsibilities are in doing things. Nursing school is about developing and refining critical thinking skills along with those hands-on skills.
Nurses are trained to recognize, assess, and prioritize health problems, develop a plan to address those health problems and evaluate whether their plan was successful, and if not, revise that plan of care.
Does this sound like what you wish to do?
If yes, you could start out in an entry-level program, like the practical nurse (or licensed practical nurse (LPN) after you pass the licensing exam). This option will give you a chance to contribute to and affect patient care, and utilize your natural qualities that likely inspired you to pursue this path.
If no, you might look into a medical assisting program. These are very “hands-on” programs with skills that range from taking blood pressures, to assisting with surgical procedures, phlebotomy, and in-house clinical testing; and also include computer skills, medical coding and billing, and transcription.
When looking at nursing vs medical assistant duties, this hands-on approach may align more with what you envisioned for your career. From documentation to laboratory and administrative duties, by becoming a medical assistant you can fill a vital role in a health care delivery team.
Get Help Choosing a Health Career
If you’re still on the fence about what education would be right for you to pursue a meaningful career in healthcare, our experienced Admissions Officers can help talk you through these options.
Based on your goals, timeline, and finances, we can help you decide what career path is right for you.
Whichever path you choose, a career in the health care field can be extremely rewarding. If your goal is to “help people” and you’re researching ways to do so, you’re on the right track to finding your place in health care.