Nursing is one of the most important and popular healthcare professions. Because the field is so broad, you can do many jobs with a nursing degree. Nurses work with all demographics and in all specializations. They take vital signs and draw blood in doctor’s offices, or assist surgeons in the operating room. They administer medications and perform wound care in nursing homes, or care for newborns in neonatal units. They visit patients through home health services, or closely monitor critically ill patients in intensive care units. No matter what aspect of patient care appeals to you, you can build a fulfilling career with a nursing degree.
A nursing degree gives you knowledge of anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, basic nutrition, and practice in clinical skills such as medication administration, taking vital signs, drawing blood, and administering IV or intramuscular drugs. Your degree path will determine exactly what your curriculum is, and how in–depth your studies will be.
Depending on the level of education you want to pursue, a nursing degree will open many possible career paths to you. Nurses work in healthcare at every level, from licensed practical nurses administering vaccines and checking vital signs to nurse practitioners diagnosing and prescribing medicine independent of M.D. oversight. Whether you want to give comfort and compassion to the elderly in nursing homes, to bring relief to patients in hospitals suffering from acute illnesses, or even to save lives in emergency rooms or intensive care units, a nursing degree can help put you on the path toward a rewarding and meaningful career.
There are various nursing degrees and programs, and many of them overlap to some extent. It is critical to differentiate between these varying nursing degree programs so that you can choose the path that makes the most sense for you.
You should also note that no matter what path you take, you will ultimately need to sit for the standardized National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)–RN. This license is mandatory for any practicing nurse.
What Kind of Accreditation Should My Degree Program Have?
Accreditation is the process by which colleges and universities are evaluated and validated. Colleges and universities that have earned accreditation have met the standards set by accrediting organizations. These organizations are comprised of faculty from various accredited colleges and universities. Legitimate regional and national accrediting organizations are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (ED). Typically, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) recognizes the same institutions, although CHEA recognition isn’t mandatory. A college or university must be accredited by a Department of Education-recognized accreditor in order for its students to receive federal financial aid.
For a detailed look at the differences between regional and national accreditation, check out What Do I Need to Know About College Accreditation?What is Regional Accreditation?Regional accreditation is the signifier of quality education; this includes the currency of curriculum, credentials of educators, and credibility of degrees. Regional accrediting agencies only accredit institutions in their geographical area.
What Is National Accreditation?National accreditation is often perceived as a less rigorous standard than regional accreditation and is governed by educational accreditors agencies that are not restricted by region or geography. This means that one such agency can provide accreditation to any college or university in the U.S. that meets its criteria. National accreditation is commonplace among trade schools, religious schools, and for–profit colleges.
Most regionally–accredited colleges do not accept or recognize credits or degrees earned from colleges that lack regional accreditation. However, national accreditation may be a useful indicator of quality for students pursuing vocational training, competency-based education, or other education models that operate under a for-profit model.