The Transformative Nature of Nursing

For many nursing students and healthcare professionals, nursing is a heroic mission and a deeply personal journey. It is far more than just a getting a job or earning a degree.

Nursing is a collective experience. It reinforces that we all need each other. It is a profession that deepens our understanding of community and togetherness and proves the significant power of simply being present for someone in need. 

Most of all, perhaps, nursing amplifies our appreciation for what it means to be human.

nurse

Nursing and the Art of Human Connection

Nursing is a unique and powerful opportunity to connect to our shared human experiences, helping us navigate and learn from some of life’s most profound moments. It also offers the chance to connect to that innate part of you that seeks to nurture, teach, heal, protect, and understand. 

If you believe you have the instincts, courage, and compassion it takes to be a nurse, a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) could offer you the chance to use these virtues professionally. 

For many BSN graduates, obtaining a nursing degree and pursuing a nursing career present numerous possibilities that could bring immense professional and personal fulfillment. For many others, a BSN is just the start of their educational journey, as they undertake a nursing specialty or graduate degree in nursing, like the MSN which offers its own array of opportunities.

Nursing degrees are the foundation for multiple areas of expertise. For example, some choose to be a cruise ship nurse or a research nurse. Others may want to help integrate technology more deeply into the nursing field to address gaps in care or patterns of disease as an informatics nurse. Yet others have dreams of mentoring the next generation of nursing students. Some nurses play a role in reforming healthcare policies, while others collect evidence and testify in court as forensic nurses. A bachelor of science in nursing is often a requirement to explore many exciting professional possibilities. 

For those in the military, a BSN could be essential to becoming a commissioned officer, flight nurse, or military medic or for exploring various other roles.

How will you translate the strength in your heart, your experience, passions, and good intentions into the field of nursing?

How Do You Become a Nurse?

Step 1: Decide if this is a profession for you. Do you enjoy working with people? Can you stand the sight of blood? Do you have the instincts, courage, and compassion it takes to become a nurse? Examine your personality and professional interests to determine if a nursing career is a profession you’d like to pursue.

Step 2: Learn about the licensing or credential requirements for your state. Most states are members of the Nurse Licensure Compact, which allows nurses to practice in other member states.

Step 3: Earn a nursing degree – either an associate or bachelor’s degree – or a diploma in nursing. In order to do so, you will need a high school diploma. Many aspiring nurses start by getting an associate degree in nursing or ADN. These ADN programs are typically available through a community college and take about two years to complete. Some choose to earn the next-level degree, a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). Many employers consider the BSN a minimum qualification for hiring. Traditional BSN programs usually take about four years of full-time study. Each of these programs will include clinical hours, giving you hands-on experience in a real-world healthcare setting.

Step 4: Take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Your degree program is designed to prepare you for this exam.

Step 5: Secure an active RN license.

 

All Related Programs

The Value of a Nursing (BSN) Degree

The value of a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) cannot be overstated because it is a respected degree that prepares graduates with a versatile skill set and specialized knowledge applicable in many healthcare settings and disciplines. 

Exceptional Flexibility

Nurses provide patient care in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, clinics, specialty practice offices, and the military. Some BSN graduates become travel nurses and explore different cities and states while providing quality nursing services.

The diversity of settings and specialties allows individuals to choose a nursing field that resonates with their interests and passions. With the right effort and direction, nurses can create a path that reflects their strengths, passions, and needs, so their day job complements their personality and lifestyle. 

Socially Responsive

Another significant advantage that underscores the value of nursing degrees is the increasing demand for skilled nurses. This demand is influenced by factors such as a years-long nursing shortage, longer life expectancies, and the current Silver Tsunami, a term coined to describe the wave of retiring Baby Boomers.

Intrinsically Beneficial

Nursing degrees can also provide tremendous intrinsic value. Nurses are positioned to influence patient outcomes and encourage well-being, which can offer a rewarding sense of purpose and fulfillment. Working in this capacity can help an individual live a life filled with intent, gratitude, and growth. 

Nursing Is a Family

A degree in nursing often enables connection with people who share similar goals and values. Nurses may develop friendships with coworkers who share their passion for care or unite over shared journeys. With a BSN, a nurse soon learns that the profession spawns one big family that can provide many meaningful friendships and everlasting support. 

For Military Personnel, It May Be Necessary for Their Career

For students serving in the military, obtaining a nursing or BSN degree may be more than an avenue to advance their nursing career – it may be a necessity for certain positions within military healthcare systems. 

The military places a high value on formal education and specialized training, particularly in critical fields such as healthcare. A BSN not only meets the educational requirements for commissioning as an officer in the Nurse Corps of various military branches but also provides the comprehensive clinical skills and leadership training essential for military nursing roles.

 

How Is an Online Format Beneficial for Your Education? 

An online format offers numerous benefits for aspiring nurses, working healthcare professionals, and military personnel. One of the most significant opportunities is the potential for a global classroom experience, characterized by a virtual student body enriched with mixed backgrounds and diverse perspectives. This varied and inclusive experience mirrors the diversity that may be encountered in professional nursing roles, and it may broaden comprehension and appreciation of differences, enhancing the ability to provide compassionate and culturally competent care.

Here are some more major benefits offered by an online format: 

Flexibility and Convenience

Many online nursing programs are set up to provide the freedom to study when your schedule allows, ensuring you can manage your education alongside your personal and professional obligations. This flexibility means you can study, participate in discussions, and submit assignments at times that fit your schedule, whether that's in the early hours or late in the evening.

Quality Education in a Virtual Space

In seeking an online program, it is critical you identify a program committed to maintaining the same level of education and instructional quality as found in traditional classroom settings. Nursing students should be challenged by a rigorous curriculum and have access to experienced faculty and the latest healthcare resources, with online tools and collaborative platforms that enhance the learning experience.

A quality online nursing program should be accredited by at least one of the national accrediting agencies. Accreditation is an important factor to consider while you weigh your options of online nursing programs because it ensures that a nursing program meets the specific educational standards that are recognized and respected within the profession.  

American Military University (AMU) is an example of an online higher education provider committed to quality standards in its nursing programs. American Military University is part of American Public University System. The baccalaureate degree program in nursing and the master's degree programs in nursing at American Public University System are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (www.ccneaccreditation.org).

Research from Anywhere, Anytime

Many online nursing programs, like AMU, have a virtual library that supports research from any location with an internet connection, offering round-the-clock access to digital textbooks and essential resources necessary for nursing studies.

Recognized Validity

Employers are progressively acknowledging the effectiveness and credibility of online education, enhancing the value of an online nursing degree significantly.

Accessibility

Typically, an online nursing program will utilize a multimedia approach, delivering educational content and instruction through various formats such as videos, slideshows, and podcasts. This approach caters to different learning styles, which could enhance understanding and retention of critical nursing knowledge.

Affordability

Earning a nursing degree online may lead to lower overall expenses. This financial advantage comes from several factors: many courses use digital materials, eliminating the need for some physical textbooks, and there are no expenses related to commuting or campus-related fees like athletics or housing.

*Note: Some online university programs might necessitate physical presence for components like doctoral residencies, internships, practicums, proctored exams, or projects requiring on-site participation. Check your desired program for requirements.

Nursing Degrees for Military Personnel

A BSN is particularly beneficial for military personnel because it  enables a servicemember to support healthcare operations within a branch of service, keeping fellow servicemembers healthy.




Why Military Personnel & Veterans Choose AMU

AMU is known for being military-friendly, and we offer programs and support services with an understanding of the needs of servicemembers.

We are proud to be the choice of countless military servicemembers who have entrusted AMU to successfully guide them to their graduation. Our dedication to success and to maintaining high standards ensures our educational programs reflect academic excellence aimed at professional quality.

Many servicemembers choose AMU’s online nursing degree programs because of the flexible online format and the career-relevant and accredited curricula, which are designed to meet the needs of military servicemembers, the nursing profession, and the real world.

Here are more reasons why military personnel choose AMU: 

Military-Minded Support Network

From academic advisors to career services and peer support, we facilitate growth and inclusion with a diverse and experienced team of professionals who have a deep understanding of the complexities and demands of military life. They are standing by, ready to ensure you have everything you need to succeed on your academic journey.  

Study Among Like-Minded People

You have the chance to share your educational experience with individuals who hold similar values, motivations, experiences, and aspirations. This dynamic could provide an opportunity to create meaningful connections and develop professional networks for future endeavors.

Transfer Credit for Military Training

AMU recognizes military training and experience, potentially allowing servicemembers to receive academic credit for their military background, which can accelerate their program completion.

Professional Preparation

Pursuing a nursing degree serves as preparation for becoming a nurse in the military health care system or preparing for a civilian career in nursing post-service.

Types of Nursing Degrees

Different nursing degrees serve differing and individual purposes. Pursuing any nursing degree is an educational journey that requires commitment.  Rest assured, however, that these programs provide a broad range of helpful skills and valuable knowledge essential to thrive in the healthcare field. 

This is considered the entry-level program, providing core knowledge and skills to become a registered nurse. ADN programs usually require two years of full-time study in person or online and often require you complete clinical hours in real-life settings like hospitals or medical offices. Community colleges typically offer these degrees and they serve as preparation for taking the national licensing exam, the NCLEX-RN. Licensure requirements vary by state.


BSN degree programs typically require four years of full-time study on a campus or online, and the completion of clinical hours in a hospital or other healthcare setting. Like the ADN, the bachelor of science in nursing is designed to prepare students to take the NCLEX-RN and seek state licensure.

AMU offers an RN to BSN program. It is for those who are already registered nurses and have an associate degree or nursing diploma. They must have a current, active, unencumbered license.

Here are some of the key program objectives: 

  1. Improve professional nursing performance by developing leadership, management, clinical judgment, and communication skills, with the goal of enhancing the well-being of individuals, families, and communities
  2. Grow collaboration, communication, and teamwork skills to work with patients, families, and healthcare team members, ensuring coordinated, efficient, and effective care
  3. Apply evidence-based clinical guidelines and leadership principles to foster a safety culture and achieve results aligned with organizational values and professional ethics
  4. Leverage healthcare technology and informatics to provide optimal patient-centered care
  5. Use scientific principles and the nursing process to assess how patients respond to treatments and any changes in their health status

For more information on the key objectives, please visit the  BSN program page.

Some choose to pursue a graduate nursing degree because they wish to become a nurse practitioner or prepare to enter a doctoral degree program, like the doctor of nursing practice.

AMU offers various MSN program pathways, and we encourage you to review each of their program pages to get a clear idea of which is the best choice for you. You can also  request information to connect with an admissions representative.

AMU's MSN programs:

The objective of the MSN program is to cultivate continuous learning and curiosity to equip students for roles in service and leadership within a diverse and global community.

MSN students must decide if they wish to pursue the Nurse Leader, Nurse Educator, or Community and Public Health Nurse track.

The Nurse Leader track concentrates on leadership, human resource management, and operational quality, while also focusing on the business and finance of healthcare. 

The Nurse Educator track examines nursing education, focusing on curriculum, instruction, and assessments to ensure quality and effective training. It aims to develop teaching methodologies that prepare future nursing professionals for the challenges of a rapidly evolving healthcare environment.

The Community and Public Health Nurse track focuses on population-based healthcare and health policy. This specialty takes a social justice approach to healthcare by promoting community and public health and supporting health equity.

Here are the key objectives of the MSN program: 

  • Integrate ethical guidelines into advanced nursing practice
  • Demonstrate leadership abilities that promote safety in nursing practices and focus on patient-centered care
  • Support improvements in healthcare policy
  • Leverage expertise, experience, and evidence-based practice to provide top-quality care across different populations and settings
  • Deliver cost-effective care and enhance health outcomes by utilizing data management principles

What Can You Do With a Nursing Degree?

Different types of nursing degrees are available to prepare for various career opportunities. Each path equips graduates with the critical thinking skills and evidence-based practice capabilities required for providing  effective patient care. Some of these roles require a graduate degree or a designation, such as APRN or advanced practice registered nurse.

Clinical Roles

  • Registered Nurse (RN): Work in various settings, such as hospitals, clinics, or long-term care facilities providing patient care, administering medications, and assisting with diagnostic tests.
  • Specialty Care RN: Specialize in areas such as pediatrics, critical care, emergency nursing, oncology, or obstetrics, requiring additional certification in many cases.

Leadership and Management

  • Nurse Manager/Leader: Oversee nursing units or departments, managing staff, budgets, and patient care policies.
  • Clinical Nurse Leader: Oversee the care coordination of a specific set of patients, assess risks, and outcomes, and ensure patient safety and quality care.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN)

After further education, such as an MSN, BSN graduates can pursue roles such as an APRN. These are the four primary roles of APRNs:

  • Nurse Practitioner (NP): Provide primary and specialty care, diagnose and treat illnesses, and prescribe medication.
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS): Expert clinicians in a specialized area of nursing practice, such as geriatrics, pediatrics, or emergency care.
  • Certified Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA): Administer anesthesia and provide care before, during, and after surgical, therapeutic, diagnostic, and obstetrical procedures.
  • Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM): Provide gynecological and low-risk obstetrical care. 

Education and Research

  • Nursing Educator: Teach future nurses in academic settings or provide continuing education for practicing nurses, usually requiring a master’s degree.
  • Nursing Researcher: Conduct research to improve healthcare services and patient outcomes, often requiring advanced degrees.

Community and Public Health

  • Public Health Nurse: Work in community settings to improve the overall health of populations by promoting wellness, disease prevention, and education.
  • Occupational Health Nurse: Focus on promoting health and safety within the workplace, including conducting assessments and implementing health programs.

Informatics

  • Nurse Informaticist: Combine nursing science with information technology to improve patient care outcomes, including managing health information systems and analyzing clinical data. 

Entrepreneurship and Consulting

  • Healthcare Consultant: Offer expertise to healthcare organizations on operational efficiency, quality improvement, and compliance.
  • Independent Practice: Depending on state laws, some nurse practitioners can open their practices. Nurse practitioners must have certification.
  • Legal Nurse Consultant: Work with legal professionals on medical cases by interpreting medical records and offering insights on healthcare delivery.

Telehealth Nursing

  • Telehealth Nurse: Provide care and consultation through telecommunication technologies, particularly important in rural or underserved areas.

Military Specific Roles

  • Flight Nurse
  • Field Nurse
  • Military Medic
  • Naval Nurse 
  • Combat Casualty Care Nurse 
Related Student Organizations

At AMU, student groups enrich the academic experience by creating a sense of belonging, sparking curiosity, and promoting professional development. Participating in these organizations allows students to connect with professionals, acquire practical experience in their field of interest, and cultivate leadership and team-building abilities.

Active Minds – Aims to facilitate open discussions on mental health among students, promote education and assistance-seeking, increase awareness of mental health issues and symptoms, and provide resources within the university community.

Health Sciences Honor Society – Aims to recognize superior achievement, develop leadership qualities, encourage creative work, foster high professional standards, and strengthen commitment to the ideals and purposes of health sciences professions.

Military Spouses Club – Aims to offer support and networking for military spouses, advocate for their causes, and unite the university community in addressing their unique challenges.

Pre-Health Student Society – Unites STEM and other students engaged in or aspiring towards pre-professional degree programs and related prerequisite courses, including pre-med and nursing.

Public Health Club – Educates members; builds a network of professionals and peers; and keeps members updated on current issues, changes, and developments in the field of public health.

Reproductive Rights Club – Provides a forum for campus community members to foster knowledge, give voice, and advocate for reproductive rights, which are human rights, with regard to issues including, but not limited to, safe abortions, life-saving obstetric care, contraception, maternal health, reproductive justice, and prevention of forced sterilization, childhood marriage, sex trafficking, and female circumcision.

Frequently Asked Questions

Nursing specialties are distinct areas within the profession that focus on specific patient populations, health conditions, skills, and levels of care.

Here are some of the many nursing specialties available: 

  • Acute Care Nursing
  • Military Nurse
  • Critical Care Nursing
  • Emergency Nursing
  • Forensic Nursing
  • Geriatric Nursing
  • Medical-Surgical Nursing
  • Neonatal Nursing
  • Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
  • Oncology Nursing
  • Pediatric Nursing
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing
  • Public Health Nursing
  • Surgical Nursing
  • Women’s Health Nursing

RN to BSN programs are for those who are already a registered nurse. They provide a swift route for nursing professionals to attain a BSN degree. Some programs award credit for the student’s registered nurse license. Students can advance their nursing knowledge and enhance their professional standing, with some able to graduate in just one year.

An Advanced Practice Registered Nurse or APRN is a nurse who has obtained at least a master's degree in nursing and has advanced clinical training beyond that of an RN. They can specialize in specific nursing areas, and they have a broader scope of practice than RNs. APRNs can (depending on state laws) prescribe medicine, diagnose conditions, and enact treatment plans.

Yes, a certified nursing assistant or licensed practical nurse can become a registered nurse, but the pathway involves further education and training. For a CNA to become an RN, they typically need to enroll in an accredited nursing program to earn an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a BSN, and then pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed as an RN.

An LPN has a more direct pathway to becoming an RN. They can pursue one of the bridge programs, such as an LPN-to-ADN or LPN-to-BSN program. These bridge programs are often offered online or at community colleges and are designed to build on the LPN's existing knowledge and skills, often allowing them to complete their degree in a shorter time frame. After completing the program, the LPN must pass the NCLEX-RN to obtain RN licensure.

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