Nursing ranks can seem confusing when you first encounter them. Having a handy guide to navigate through them makes all the difference when pursuing a nursing position that capitalizes on your skills and natural talents. Check out what level of nursing is the best fit for you and determine what you would like to accomplish in your nursing career.
In this article, we will explore the roles of the :
- Chief Nursing Officer (CNO)
- Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
- Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)
- Registered Nurse (RN)
- Licensed Practicle Nurse/Licensed Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN)
- Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
Chief nursing officer (CNO)
Think of a Chief Nursing Officer as the CEO of a nursing department. Their primary role involves communicating with and overseeing nursing departments to ensure all team members follow nursing best practices. CNOs can handle any nursing issues that arise. They also manage business matters to keep the hospital’s nursing department operating efficiently.
Becoming a CNO takes extensive education and training. Nursing candidates who wish to work in this role must obtain a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or higher, with a secondary focus on business administration. As the highest administrative role within the nursing profession, chief nursing officers have all the same skills as nurses, plus leadership and management training. Many aspiring CNOs work in mid-level nursing management as charge nurses or as nursing unit directors before becoming CNOs. This allows nurses to gain the experience needed to run a nursing department.
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree is the highest level of education a nursing professional can obtain. DNPs possess extensive knowledge of nursing best practices and focus on working in nursing administration roles or patient care.
Nursing professionals with DNPs can work in health informatics, nursing management, or organizational leadership. Some hold thought-leadership positions shaping state and national health policies.
To become a DNP, you must complete up to 8 years of nursing education. The number of years required to complete your degree depends on where you are starting from in your career. If you are starting from scratch with no schooling or work experience, expect to spend the full eight years completing the program if attending school full-time. Most DNP programs require applicants to have a minimum of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), while others prefer a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. If you have a bachelor’s or master’s degree there are bridge programs that help cut time in school:
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)
APRNs are registered nurses (RNs) who complete an MSN program. They must also earn a certificate in one of the following roles: Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, Certified Nurse-Midwife, Clinical Nurse Specialist, or Nurse Practitioner.
APRNs receive their licensure through the board of nursing in their state of practice. In many states, APRNs can prescribe medication and practice without oversight from a doctor or other supervisor. It can take about six years to become a licensed APRN. The BSN to MSN and RN to MSN bridge programs can help you earn your master’s degree faster.
Registered nurse (RN)
Registered nurses‘ job duties vary from one employer to the next. Depending on the department and nursing specialty, they may supervise other nurses and oversee patient care, or serve as a direct caretaker for patients. RNs may also be responsible for administering medication, drawing blood and collecting lab work, and monitoring patient vitals and progress.
In order to become an RN, you need to have completed an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing and pass the NCLEX exam. Gaining experience in the specialty in which you would like to practice is also an important part of the process.
Licensed practical nurse/Licensed vocational nurse (LPN/LVN)
LPN and LVN are two career types that are very similar. Both provide care such as helping patients with feeding, dressing, hygiene, transfers, measuring and recording vital signs, and treating basic wounds or changing dressings.
In order to become an LPN, you must finish a practical nursing course and pass the NCLEX-PN exam. Experience is also helpful as most of the duties are learned on the job.
Certified nursing assistant (CNA)
CNAs provide a wide variety of services to their patients. The main activities they help the patient with are bathing, eating, and mobility. They also help nurses check patients’ vital signs, such as blood pressure and pulse rate.
Before entering a CNA program, you must have your high school diploma or GED. Most CNA programs take between 6-12 weeks to finish but could take up to six months depending on the level of education you wish to receive.
Help in obtaining your dream job
Whether you desire to work as an agency nurse or want to run a nursing department, Incredible Health has the tools you need to succeed in your nursing career. From our free nursing CEUs to our online nursing community of supportive nursing professionals, you are just a few keystrokes away from the information necessary to pursue your dreams.
Tired of applying for nursing jobs?
With Incredible Health, hospitals apply to YOU.