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Unlike many careers where there is one set path to success, nursing is a career where you can become successful at many different levels. Entry levels of nursing require in as few as 1-2 years. Some people stay as these entry-level nurses forever, or you may pursue a higher degree and certification later in your career. Here are different levels of entry-level nursing.
Licensed vocational nurses or licensed practical nurses provide basic medical care under the direction of a registered nurse. The major difference between LVNs and LPNs is where they practice. California and Texas use the title “licensed vocational nurse” while other states use “licensed practical nurse.”
One benefit of a practical or vocational nursing position is that it is a quick way to enter the healthcare field. LPN and LVN are entry-level nursing designations. One can typically become an LPN or LVN through a vocational school or an associate degree program. For example, at Carrington College, students can earn a certificate in Practical Nursing or Vocational Nursing in as little as 12 months and an associate degree in Vocational Nursing in as few as 27 months.
Registered nursing is the most common level of nursing in America. RNs can have an associate degree in nursing or even a diploma from a hospital program.1 Registered nurses typically provide patient care and help coordinate medical needs with other experts like doctors and surgeons. Registered nurses oversee practical and vocational nurses.
The benefit of pursuing an RN degree instead of becoming an LPN or LVN is that you have less supervision and may be able to earn more than entry-level counterparts.
There is always room for improvement in your nursing career. For example, you may want to get into the workforce fast by becoming an LVN or LPN but later may want to return to your studies and advance to be an RN. Such so-called “nursing bridge” programs, also called an LVN to ADN program or an LVN to RN program, help take licensed practical or vocational nurses and train them to become registered nurses.
For example, at Carrington College, one can advance from an LVN to an LVN to ADN degree in as few as 8 months.2
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