So many roles in nursing! Which one do I choose?

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Trying to figure out what path to take in nursing can be very confusing. Trust me, I know. I was once there not too long ago and I wish I had more of a clear understanding of the various ways to get into nursing. It's overwhelming, especially when you see all these credentials being thrown around like "MSN, RN", "BSN, RN" or "ACNP-BC", good LAWD!

The truth is, you don't have to know all the answers or know all of the "aggressive" credentials right away! I didn't. What I did was, identify that I wanted to be a Nurse and why.  In order for you to plan your steps to achieve a goal, you have to identify the goal and why that goal matters to you. A goal without a personal connection can be very hard to reach.  So figure out why you want to be a Nurse, was it a connection you felt seeing a family member being treated in the hospital? having thoughts of being in a field with longevity? or maybe you have a desire of wanting to impact healthcare? whatever it is, identify it.  

Once you have written down your goal of becoming a nurse and why, the next step is list the things that would hinder you from reaching your goal to becoming a nurse. Is it time? financial ability? fear of blood? (Yes, you can still be a Nurse and have a fear of blood), write those hindrances down and start your research into nursing from there.

If financially going back to school to get a Bachelors degree in Nursing might not be feasible at this time, then look into obtaining an Associates degree in Nursing at a local community college or get into a vocational program to become a License Vocational Nurse. It's cost effective and helps you reach your goal of becoming a nurse. If time from work or life responsibilities is holding you back from getting into a nursing program, then type in google "online programs to become an RN" you will see many universities that are embracing online degrees in nursing (but please do me a favor and make sure the nursing program you select is an accredited program and recognized by your states licensing board).

Listed below from Episode 12 "Pathways into Nursing", are the various steps in Nursing that were mentioned (I added a few more that I thought could help your search).  Remember, do your research! All the information I have listed below is based off some googling and knowledge I have gathered from working in the nursing field. Soooo, don't take my word for it, you have to do your own research to see what requirements your state has listed as you embark on your journey into nursing. I'm Rooting for you! 


Non- RN Clinical Roles

  • CNA/PCA – Certified Nurse Assistant/Patient Care Associate (Certification needed)
  • PCT- Patient Care Tech (Some states require certification)
  • Nurse Tech-  (Nursing courses or partial completion of nursing program)
  • Nurse Aide- (Some states require certification)


Nursing Roles with Required Licensure

  • LVN/LPN- License Vocational Nurse/ License Practical Nurse (NCLEX-PN)
  • ADN/ASN- Associate Degree in Nursing/ Associate of Science Nursing (NCLEX-RN)
  • BSN- Bachelors of Science in Nursing (NCLEX-RN)


Registered Nurse with Masters Degree

MSN- Masters of Science in Nursing (direct care)

  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP)

  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP)

  • Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)

  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

  • Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)

  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)

  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP)

  • Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (PACNP)

  • Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (PPCNP)

  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)

  • Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP)

MSN- Masters of Science in Nursing (indirect care)

  • Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL)

  • Nursing Executive/Administrator

  • Nurse Educator

  • Nurse Researcher

  • Public Health Nursing

  • Nursing Informatics


Registered Nurse with Doctorate Degree 

  • DNP – Doctor of Nursing Practice (Emphasis on clinical practice-oriented leadership training)
  • DNSc – Doctor of Nursing Science (Focus is on investigative and research skills)
  • Ph.D. – Doctor of Nursing Philosophy (Emphasizes scholarly research and inquiry)