What Are the Different Career Levels of Nursing?

While you are in the hospital, you may not notice that nurses are not all one and the same. The truth is that there are different levels of nursing, just as there are different levels of workers in other fields. Choosing a nursing path requires extensive research into the different levels of education, certification, demand and specialty.

Certified Nursing Assistant

Also known as a CNA, a Certified Nursing Assistant often works in a nursing home or assisted living center to provide the most basic care to its residents. The CNA works under the guidance of other nurses and documents patient information, cleans patient rooms and administers medication. This path requires just a six week training course and a proficiency examination. This training course is often offered by the place of employment.

Licensed Vocation Nurse

Among the most basic levels of nursing is the Licensed Practical Nurse, also known as an LPN. This is the same as a Licensed Vocation Nurse, LVN. These nurses care for patients who are injured or disabled, offering bedside care. They may apply bandages, administer injections and take vital signs. These nurses complete one year of coursework after high school, often attending one of the nursing vocational schools in California.

Registered Nurse

One of the most popular careers in the field is that of the Registered Nurse, commonly referred to as an RN. These nurses assist doctors in planning and carrying out treatment, offering direct care to their patients. An RN typically holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or an Associate’s Degree in Nursing, though accelerated programs may help nurses obtain degrees in just 18 months. These nurses are also required to pass a certification exam.

Advanced Practice Nurses

Some students choose to go the extra mile and become Advanced Practice Nurses, also known as APNs. This title is given to RNs who achieve a Master’s in Nursing and usually place an emphasis on a special topic. Some nurses choose to focus on obstetrics, pediatrics, anesthesiology or oncology. Nurse Practitioners, NPs, are also included under this label. APNs are among the highest paid nurses.

There are many avenues to become a nurse, whether you want to pursue one of the many vocational schools in California or you want to go to a four-year university. Becoming a nurse requires perseverance, empathy and dedication in addition to education.