If you have a passion for taking care of your fellow human beings, nursing is a good vocation. Not only does it give you an opportunity to help others, but you also get an opportunity to earn a respectable income. As such, you get to experience job satisfaction, an element that is crucial to leading a happy and fulfilling life, and as an added benefit, you also experience job security.
In all, there are plenty of positives that come with being a nurse. However, the road to becoming one can be quite long. How long does it take to finish nursing, school? Herein we will explore this specific question. This read will help you understand the time you need to dedicate pursuing vocational education. Importantly, this will give you an understanding of the best way to pursue an education in the nursing field.
How Long Is Nursing School?
Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer as to how long nursing school takes. It depends on a myriad of factors as well as your aspirations and goals. For instance, the most popular nursing program takes about 2-years to complete. However, if you take prerequisite courses, it might end up taking much longer as the time you take to complete the courses is dependent on your personal situation.
For instance, there are accelerated nursing programs that allow you to undertake your coursework even during the summer, thereby shortening your completion time. On the other hand, if you are looking to study and work at the same time, there are flexible courses that allow you to pursue an education in the nursing field and at the same time engage in your everyday endeavors. Aside from the 2-year nursing school program, there are plenty of other advanced programs. Each advanced level of study increases your understanding of the field and improves your skill-set. However, it also requires you dedicate additional time to your studies. For instance, for you to undertake nursing up to the doctorate level, you will have to dedicate a minimum of 8 years.
Let’s delve into the various levels of studying nursing and the number of years you need to dedicate to complete each level.
The Licensed Practical Nurse Programs
Also known as a licensed vocational nurse (LVN), these people are trained to assist registered nurses while also offering the most basic of patient care such as a first aid and TLC. The one-year program entails taking classes and undertaking supervised work/clinical experience. The program is available at vocational schools and technical colleges.
While undertaking this program, students are taught about basic first aid and nursing and they are introduced to psychological care, pharmacology, and geriatric care. At the completion of the school work and clinical experience, students take the NCLEX-PN exam which when successfully completed grants students the LPN license.
To advance to the next level, a graduate can take a transitional training program that allows them to become a registered nurse.
The Registered Nurse Diploma
The registered nurse diploma is offered by certain hospitals and as such, they are might be as prevalent as the associate degree or degree programs. Nonetheless, completing this program allows students to register as a nurse and seek jobs in entry-level positions. The program can take anywhere from 1 year to 3 years to complete.
Associate Degree In Nursing (ADN)
The associate degree in nursing is another popular route to becoming a registered nurse. The programs are typically offered through community colleges or colleges. At the community college level, the programs are offered as day classes, night classes, or weekend classes. As such, depending on one’s schedule you can opt for any of the aforementioned schedules. Generally, the course takes anywhere between 2 to 4 years, depending on your schedule and the school you are attending.
During the course, students are taught the fundamentals of nursing. As such, they learn about microbiology, anatomy, physiology, nutrition, and pharmacology. Beyond the classes, students must participate in supervised clinical experience. During their clinical experience, students get to put into practice what they have learned. To this end, students get to practice monitoring a patient’s charts, determining a normal and an abnormal heart rate, determining normal and abnormal breathing, and much more.
Bachelor of Science In Nursing (BSN)
While undertaking a bachelor’s course in nursing will give you an opportunity to become a registered nurse, it will also help you with advanced studies in nursing such as the masters’ course. There are plenty of routes to get to the Bachelor of Science in nursing.
If you have undertaken the Registered Nurse Diploma course and or the Associated Degree in Nursing course, and you are a valid license(s) holder, you can you can undertake the course in as little as 12 to 24 months. However, if you are new to the field and you want to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing, you will have to undertake the full 4-year course.
Prospective bachelor’s degree students who hold another bachelor’s degree in another field can undertake this course in as little as 18 to 24 months under an accelerated program.
During the program, students get to learn about diet and nutrition, physiology, statistics, anatomy, nursing theory and research and much more. There is also a requirement for students to participate in advanced clinical experiences in nursing homes, hospitals, and in some cases in psychiatric hospitals.
Master of Science In Nursing
At the graduate level in the nursing field, is the Master of Science in Nursing. With this level of education in the nursing field, you get to specialize in a specific part of nursing. However, aside from being able to provide specialized nursing care, a master’s degree allows you the opportunity to apply for jobs in the administrative and managerial positions, research positions, and teaching positions. The typical period for completing a master’s degree is about 2 years that involve a combination of classwork, clinical experience, and research.
At this level of education, a nurse increases their income tremendously. While it might take years to reach the master’s degree level, the perks make the dedication worth it. For many people the answer to “How long is nursing school?” is 6 years – the 4 years needed for a bachelor’s degree and another 2 for a mastser’s degree.
There are various doctoral programs that nurses can pursue. One of such courses is the Doctor of Nursing Science (DNS). This 3-year program allows students to conduct scientific research and investigation into the healthcare sector. During the course, students must participate in more clinical experience, conduct their own original research and much more.
Another doctoral program that will interest nursing students is the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). This program is designed and geared towards nurses with a bachelor’s degree who are interested in pursuing leadership positions. The course teaches nurses how to balance between rendering high-quality services within budgetary limits.
There is also the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Nursing. This course is meant to impart students with the knowledge and technical know-how of conducting investigations and research into the nursing industry. All the three doctorate programs take about 3 years to complete. However, the specific timelines are dependent on your schedule.
As you can appreciate, the length of time you spend in nursing school is dependent on the level of education you want to have. As such, it can take as little as one year or as much as 8 years for you to attain a doctorate. Furthermore, it is common for students to work whilst still pursuing their education. While it is not an ideal situation, there are plenty of reasons for working and studying at the same time. For instance, you may have to fund your education through your income. By opting to combine work and study, the time you have to spend in school will greatly increase. So, the answer to the “how long is nursing school” question is – it depends on you and what you ultimately want to do and become.