Why Are There So Many Different Kinds of Nurses?

By Scott Tillerman
Thursday, March 7, 2013 - 2:40pm

If you are considering becoming a nurse, you have a number of options for what type you would like to be. The different needs and areas in the industry have lead to the rise of many different types of nursing. Before deciding which type of training is right for you, it is important to compare the different requirements.

The most common types of nurses are Licensed Practical Nurses (LVNs) and Registered Nurses (RNs). An RN can then expand on their training and education with an RN to BSN Degree. Each of the different types of nursing serve a specific purpose in patient care. Ultimately, the primary factors in determining the right path are the required training, desired responsibilities, and career advancement.

Nursing Positions without Degrees
While it does not require a degree, the LVN program requirements are strict and the training and certification will take applicants at least one year to obtain. LVNs work in doctor’s offices, clinics, hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, and private settings. LVN program requirements can change between states, but all LVNs are required to be certified regardless of where they live. This means that moving to another state requires the LVN to take a new licensing test. However, this is true of any nursing position as laws differ between states. Because the training can be completed within a year, LVNs are able to take tests following completion of training at community or vocational colleges. LVN program requirements include courses studying all of basic nursing, from anatomy and pediatrics to first aid and administering medication.

The other non-degree nurse is the Certified Nurse’s Aide (CNAs). The requirements are less strenuous and only require about two months before the nurse is certified. These nurses are always assistants to the nursing staff, and assist in the daily care of patients. 

Registered Nurses
RNs generally have a bachelor’s degree, although some associates degrees or specialized hospital-based degrees can certify you as an RN. The type of degree you have as an RN will determine how far you can advance in your career path. Different areas may have different regulations, and the requirements that fit with a particular city or state may not carry over if you move, particularly hospital specific certification. The primary roll of RNs is to provide the guidance for patient care, from planning and management to the execution of each patient’s needs. RNs are also responsible for supervising LVNs and CNAs. 

Specialized Nurses
As an RN you can elect to obtain an advanced degree such as an RN to BSN degree that will provide you with a specialized area of expertise. The majority of nursing types fall into this category, but the smallest percentage of nurses have advanced degrees. These nurses have more responsibilities. From serving as midwives to anesthetists, specialized degrees are required because of the possible complications that can occur with procedures such as these.