Decoding the Path to Nursing: Exploring the Pathways to a Career in Nursing

You’ve always known you wanted to pursue a career that would allow you to help others. Working as a nurse lets you provide care and support to people in various settings. Demand for nurses is always high and is expected to continue, meaning you’ll never struggle to find work as a nurse.

As you get started on your career path, you’ll find that there are several routes available to you. The nursing path you choose determines the type of degree you’ll need and what your daily responsibilities will be. 

Types of Nursing Degrees

The type of nurse you can be depends on the type of degree you earn. When you’re just getting started, you can enroll in the following degree programs:

If you choose a certificate program, you’ll spend anywhere from 10 weeks (for a patient care assistant certificate) to 12 months (for a licensed practical nursing certificate) in training. Associate’s degree programs typically take two years while bachelor’s degree programs usually take four years. 

After earning an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, you can become a Registered Nurse (RN). RNs typically have more responsibilities than LPNs or CNAs and usually supervise CNAs and LPNs on the job. 

Depending on the degree you earn initially, you can later enroll in an advanced nursing degree program, eventually earning a master’s or doctorate degree in nursing. With an advanced nursing degree, you can become an advanced practice RN or a nurse practitioner. 

Prerequisites for Nursing

Your nursing degree or certificate program will teach you the nursing theory and provide you with clinical experience, allowing you to work directly with patients. 

Beyond the knowledge and skills you’ll gain in a training program, there are a few other prerequisites needed to become a nurse. You’ll regularly work with people who are sick, injured and who may be afraid. It’s important to have compassion for the patients you serve.

Good communication skills are also important, as you may need to relay information from your patients to other members of the nursing team or to the doctors. Likewise, you may need to relay information from the rest of the care team back to the patients. 

Classes to Take to Be a Nurse

The classes you take in your nursing program depend on the type of credential you’re earning. Associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs typically require more classes, including a mix of liberal arts, hard sciences and medical skills courses. 

Certificate programs tend to be more focused and typically offer classes directly related to nursing. In a CNA program, you’ll take a class in basic healthcare worker skills, plus classes that cover how to be a home health aide and patient care assistant.

In an LPN program, you’ll take classes in practical nursing foundations plus medical and surgical nursing. 

Earning Your Nursing License

Whether you decide to become a CNA, LPN or RN, the next step after completing your certificate or degree program is earning your nursing license. 

In Florida, you must pass the Department of Health’s Certified Nursing Assistant exam to earn your CNA license. To become an LPN, you’ll take and pass the National Council of State Boards of Nursing’s Licensed Practical Nurse exam.

RNs must pass the National Council Licensure Examination.

What’s Next?

Once you start down a nursing pathway, you have options. After becoming an LPN, you can enroll in an associate’s or bachelor’s degree program and eventually become an RN. CNAs can also enroll in an associate’s or bachelor’s program to advance their careers.

Orange Technical College Can Get You Started on the Path to a Nursing Career

Orange Technical College offers a patient care assistant certificate program at our main campus to prepare you for a career as a CNA. We also have an LPN certificate program at our Avalon campus. Contact us today to learn more about either program and to get started on your nursing career.