Differences Among Nursing Degrees—RN vs BSN vs LPN

Differences Among Nursing Degrees—RN vs BSN vs LPN

Mar 18, 2015 | 9:00 am

With so many different nursing degrees and ways to enter the field, it’s easy to get confused about where to begin. Some common questions include: What’s the difference between RN, BSN and LPN? And, how can so many different nursing degrees all lead to a career as a registered nurse? Let’s learn about the different degrees and where each one leads in the nursing field.

Practical Nursing or Vocational Nursing Programs

Becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) does not require a nursing degree; it’s a one-year training program often held at a vocational school or community college. Once nursing students graduate, they must pass the NCLEX-PN (National Council of Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses). At that point, they can add LPN or LVN to their title and seek basic nursing positions.

RN Programs, Including Diploma, ASN and BSN

Many roads lead to registered nursing. The nursing diploma (not a degree), can be earned at a hospital training program or vocational school. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), also called Associate of Science in Nursing, can be found at community colleges. Both take about two years to complete. After earning a diploma or associate degree in nursing , students can sit for the NCLEX-RN (National Council of Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses). Upon passing, they can add RN to their title and seek a staff-nurse position.

While two-year RN programs are still popular, the Institute of Medicine encourages nurses to pursue higher levels of education. As a result, more programs are popping up to help nurses and career changers earn a bachelor’s degree. Here are a few of the different nursing degrees to reach “BSN” status:

•RN to BSN –for LVNs and LPNs who want to become RNs, this degree program bridges nursing knowledge and experience with credits needed to earn a bachelor’s degree.
•Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)– a four-year bachelor’s degree for nursing undergrads
•Accelerated BSN – an accelerated college program for non-nursing bachelor’s degree holders to catch up on credits needed to earn a BSN in 11 to 18 months.

APRN Degree Programs

Advanced practice registered nurses have different nursing degrees as well—basically including a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) and doctorate level degrees. With these degrees, nurses can work in management, provide higher levels of medical care to patients or work in research.

Whether it’s the ASN, BSN, MSN or another bridge degree program that takes students from where they are to RN status, there is one that’s perfect for you. Best of all, many of these nursing degree programs can be completed online.

If you found this information helpful, you may want to read on to learn how these different nursing degrees translate into a nursing career path.