With the healthcare industry project to experience unmatched growth in the coming decade, many individuals are considering a career change into healthcare. Likewise, many young college students are reconsidering an education in the medical field to set themselves up with strong jobs upon graduation that come with high pay. Given the ever increasing need for qualified individuals, the nursing career field is expected to experience the greatest gains in employment through 2018. As a result nursing training courses are being expanded and more and more individuals are seeking information about nursing training.
Nursing training courses are available at a number of levels and will position graduates to enter a wide variety of careers within the nursing field. Nursing training has undergone changes in the past few decades that have altered the settings in which many nurses are trained. The most common nursing training programs include the following:
- Diploma and Certificate programs
- Associate’s programs
- Bachelor’s programs
- Master’s programs
- PhD programs
Diploma and certificate programs used to be the most popular nursing training programs for preparing future nurses for employment. Most of these programs were offered onsite at hospitals and took anywhere from one to three years to complete depending upon the profession students were pursuing. Students took a combination of general classes and intensive nursing courses. Among the general coursework required in diploma programs were subjects such as:
Although diploma programs were once the most popular route into the nursing field, as of 2000 other nursing training programs have taken the lead in educating nurses. A Health Services Resources Administration survey that same year found that only six percent of nurses in the U.S. still completed nursing training at a diploma program.
The most common introductory nursing training in the 21st century comes from Associate’s degree programs. The typical Associate’s program takes two years to complete and is offered by nursing schools, community colleges, and even some four year colleges. It is becoming more and more common for these programs to take closer to three years to complete due to pre-requisite coursework.
Also becoming more and more popular these days is the Bachelor’s degree nursing training program. This level of nursing training often takes four years to complete, but it is not uncommon for these programs to stretch beyond four years of schooling. Bachelor’s level programs consist of general education classes during the first two years of school and are followed by more specialized nursing training.
There is a bit of debate between those in favor of Associate’s nursing training and those in favor of Bachelor’s training. The two programs both prepare nurses for a strong career in the healthcare industry, but the differing approaches are question by supporters on both sides. Associate’s supporters argue that their programs have a greater focus on on-the-job training and better prepared graduates to step in and produce immediately upon graduation.
Supporters of Bachelor’s level nursing training are not shy about the strengths of their program either. Bachelor’s programs offer a more academically based degree focusing on research and nursing theories. One particular point of strength noted by Bachelor’s program supporters is the fact that graduates from these nursing training programs receive more classroom and more clinical hours than their Associate’s counterparts. Additionally, only the Bachelor’s level program prepares graduates for advancement into graduate level nursing training programs.
Beyond the Bachelor’s level training programs, nursing training programs become largely optional for the purpose of advancement into the upper echelons of the nursing career field. Graduates from Master’s programs often find themselves taking on greater supervisory roles within hospitals and other medical care facilities. Graduates from PhD level programs find themselves even further removed from the patients, working in education, research, and policy development instead.
Regardless of the nursing training program an individual is considering, it is important to ensure that the program is properly accredited by governing bodies that approve of the training methods and practices of the school. The two major accreditation boards include the following:
- National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC)
- Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
Once a formal nursing training program has been completed by students, they will face several other required and optional education processes that effect their career growth. Any student who graduates from a Diploma, Associate’s, or Bachelor program is qualified for and must take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Successful completion of this exam shows potential employers that a student meets the generally accepted requirements to work in the career field.
Finally, there are other options in nursing training beyond the completion of initial programs that students can purse in the interest of furthering their career aspirations. These include nursing board certifications and credentials designed to display competency in a specialized area of nursing.
Successful completion of a nursing training program will prepare an individual to step into an exciting career field that has amazing growth potential and the ability to provide employed individuals with financial stability for years to come.