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What degree do I need to be a registered nurse?

Registered nurses can be the unsung heroes in the medical field: Not only do these skilled professionals give hands-on patient care to the sick and injured, registered nurses also often act as advocates for good health, train other caregivers and serve as a liaison between doctor and patient. If you're a caring, compassionate person with a strong grasp on science, a registered nursing degree program could give you the skills needed to help you in your career.

There are three different degree paths for future registered nurses, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS reports that nurses generally gain the skills they need by earning a bachelor's of science degree in nursing (BSN), an associate's degree in nursing (ADN) or a diploma from an approved nursing program. BSN programs generally take four years to complete and results in broader training, while ADN and diploma programs offer fast-tracked, two-or-three-year programs. The BLS suggests that a BSN degree can be more useful in the long run, as nursing practices are becoming more complex. BSN and ADN degree programs will likely both include classroom and clinical work, with some hands-on learning completed in a hospital or other health care facility. The goal of this training is to prepare future nurses to pass their state's board exams and the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses, or NCLEX-RN, as both are needed to obtain a license to practice in all 50 states.


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