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Chris Ostrander

What Can You Do With a Nursing Degree?

If you are weighing the pros and cons of a nursing career, there are a couple of things you should know about this profession that you can definitely place in your pros column. Firstly, nursing is a very secure career choice, with projected job growth rates much higher than most occupations today. Secondly, secure does not mean boring – nursing is also very versatile, offering a wide variety of job and career opportunities. So just what can you do with a nursing degree? Here we'll outline some of the numerous options available to those who earn nursing credentials.

Different Nursing Degrees

The answer to the question “what can you do with a nursing degree?” depends upon just which nursing credentials a person holds. Each qualifies a person for different duties, ranging from basic entry-level patient care to administrative roles. Here are the most common nursing credentials , along with the basic qualifications they convey:

Nursing Assistant – To become a nursing assistant, individuals must earn a Certified Nursing Assistant credential. Courses to earn this credential involve a minimum of 75 hours of combined classroom and clinical training. A CNA is qualified to provide basic patient care, such as assisting patients with personal care tasks, taking vital signs, and assisting with range of motion exercise, among other duties.

Licensed Vocational Nurse/Licensed Practical Nurse – Becoming an LPN/LVN means taking a 1 year nursing diploma course and passing a licensing exam. LPNs/LVNs work under the supervision of registered nurses (RNs) and/or physicians to provide basic patient care, such as monitoring vital signs, dressing wounds, treating bedsores and recording intake and output of foods and fluids, among other duties.

Registered Nurse – RNs must earn a nursing degree and pass a registration exam to receive their credentials. This may be an associate degree , earned via 2-year nursing degree programs or a bachelor's degree through 4-year programs. These nurses are qualified for duties that include administration of medications and treatments, recording medical histories and symptoms, operate medical equipment and help with diagnostic tests and analyze results, among many other tasks.

Career Opportunities in Nursing

While most in the nursing profession work in hospitals, either in general nursing or specialty areas – surgery, intensive care, dialysis, pediatrics, geriatrics or administration, for instance – many work in alternative environments, such as clinics, nursing homes, schools, military bases, prisons or in private homes. Nurse Journal offers a great list of 100 different jobs that a person could do with a nursing degree, many of which are opportunities outside of the traditional hospital environment, such as:

  • School Nurse – This position offers the opportunity to work with children, a regular daily schedule, and weekends and holidays off.
  • Camp Nurse – Work with children at summer camps, or with people of all ages at health/wellness camps.
  • Traveling Nurse – This includes positions that rotate nurses between hospitals and other care environments in a regional area, or nurses that work abroad, often with international organizations.
  • Flight/Transport Nurse – These nurses work with patients as they are airlifted or otherwise transported for emergency care or to advanced care facilities.
  • Cruise Ship Nurse – Nurses who work on cruise ships care for passengers and crew while seeing the world.

This is just a small sample of the many things you can do with a nursing degree. Many opportunities are open to LPNs or to RNs with an associate degree. Others may require a bachelor's or master's degree and/or specialty certifications. For that reason, it is important to research the specific requirements of positions you're interested in as you plan your nursing career path.

For more information about educational opportunities at Bryant & Stratton College for nursing, contact the Admissions Office or check out nursing degrees in the Healthcare section of our website. 

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