TABLE 1-A2 Pathways in Nursing Education

Type of Degree

Description of Program

Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

PhD programs are research-focused, and graduates typically teach and conduct research, although roles are expanding. DNP programs are practice-focused and graduates typically serve in Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) roles and other advanced positions, including faculty positions.

Time to completion: 3–5 years. BSN or MSN to nursing doctorate options available.

Masters Degree in Nursing (MSN/MS)

Prepares Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs), Nurse Practitioners, Clinical Nurse Specialists, Nurse-Midwives, and Nurse Anesthetists, as well as Clinical Nurse Leaders, nurse educators and administrators.

Time to completion: 18–24 months. Three years for ADN to MSN option.

Accelerated BSN or Masters Degree in Nursing

Designed for students with baccalaureate degree in another field.

Time to completion: 12–8 months for BSN and three years for MSN depending on prerequisite requirements.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Registered Nurse (RN)

Educates nurses to practice the full scope of professional nursing responsibilities across all health care settings. Curriculum provides additional content in physical and social sciences, leadership, research and public health.

Time to completion: Four years or up to two years for ADN/Diploma RNs and three years for LPNs depending on prerequisite requirements.

Associate Degree (ADN) in Nursing (RN) and Diploma in Nursing (RN)

Prepares nurses to provide direct patient care and practice within the legal scope of professional nursing responsibilities in a variety of health care settings. Offered through community colleges and hospitals.

Time to completion: Two to three years for ADN (less in the case of LPN-entry) and three years for diploma (all hospital-based training programs) depending on prerequisite requirements.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)/Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)

Trains nurses to provide basic care, e.g. take vital signs, administer medications, monitor catheters and apply dressings. LPN/LVNs work under the supervision of physicians and registered nurses. Offered by technical/vocational schools and community colleges.

Time to completion: 12–8 months.

SOURCE: AARP, 2010a. Courtesy of AARP. All rights reserved.

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