The demand for passionate, qualified nurses is expected to grow another 16 percent in the next ten years. It is one of the fastest growing fields in our country! And, unlike most in other professional fields, nurses—in all areas and specialties and at all levels—are practically guaranteed stable work and diverse opportunities for the length of their careers. Not only is nursing a steady and reliable industry, it pays exceedingly well. For example, Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) do not have college degrees, but make on average $43,170 annually. And those with undergraduate degrees, working as Registered Nurses, can anticipate an average annual salary of $67,490.

Of course, these are just some of the perks, and they don’t even touch on the biggest advantage of becoming a nurse: you create actual change and betterment in the community. You provide care for those hurting or ill, one of the most respected vocations imaginable.

If you’re interested in becoming a nurse, or you already are nursing in some capacity but hope to advance your career, this resource is for you. We have everything you need, from an outline of different degree options, including bridge programs, to nursing scholarships, the advantages of distance learning, how to choose a specialty, how to choose a nursing school, and much more.

Types of Nursing Degrees

Best Nurse Practitioner ProgramsWhatever your current situation, there are a number of available options for obtaining a degree and licensure in nursing. From a nursing diploma to doctoral work, the nursing industry requires nurses of all varieties and from all degree backgrounds. Below we have outlined each nursing degree in order of advancement. In addition to providing an overview of the degree, we have also included what you can expect from the curriculum, areas of focus, and the average salary a professional with the degree earns after graduation and licensure.

CNA: Certified Nursing Assistant

Education level: Certification
Average annual salary: $29,960

Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), also recognized as unlicensed assistive personnel, are paraprofessionals who assist patients in daily living, providing both bedside and nursing care. They are supervised by registered and practical nurses. To become a CNA, you must have either a high school diploma or a GED, then enroll in nursing assistant training, which usually takes four to sixteen weeks to complete. Upon completion, you will have to pass the state-specific exam for full certification. CNAs may not have a license, but they still play an important role in healthcare, providing care for patients, working with their families, and collaborating with nurses and physicians.

LPN: Licensed Practical Nurse

Education level: Certification
Average annual salary: $43,170

A licensed practical nurse works under the direction of Registered Nurses and physicians to care for the sick and injured. Most LPNs are generalists and work in an array of healthcare facilities, including hospitals, patients’ homes, clinics, nursing homes, and more. For those who cannot commit to a longer program, the LPN program can usually be completed in twelve months. Once completed, passing the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX-RN) is required to become certified.

LPN curriculum: LPN training combines classroom learning and supervised patient practice. You will develop hands-on experience, including patient care, once you have taken the following classes requirements:

RN: Registered Nurse, ADN

Education level: Associate Degree
Average annual salary: $66,640

Registered Nurses (RN) assists physicians in providing care for patients. They administer medication, monitor the patient’s vital signs and recovery, and educate patients and families on preventative care. An RN is a nurse who has attended a nursing program, having graduated with at least an associate’s degree, which takes approximately two to complete. After graduation, the student then has to pass the NCLEX exam for initial licensure, but then can go on to obtain specialty certification through an organization such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

ADN curriculum: Classes cover both general education (liberal arts) and an introduction to nursing. Once you complete your core requirements (English, communications, chemistry, math, psychology, etc.), you will take a combination of the following:

RN: Registered Nurse, BSN

Education level: Bachelor’s Degree
Average annual salary: $68,468

The difference between an RN with an associate’s degree and one holding a Bachelor of Science in Nursing is that the latter will have more opportunities to work in a greater variety of jobs. More and more often, hospitals and other healthcare facilities are looking for an RN with a BSN, a degree that typically takes four years to obtain (though there are a few accelerated BSN programs). Another advantage in having a BSN is that it prepares RNs to advance to higher positions as well as enter advanced degree programs.

BSN curriculum: Similar to earning an associate degree, BSN classes cover both general education (liberal arts) and an introduction to nursing, though with the BSN degree there is a greater emphasis on specialty, management, and community health. Additionally, the BSN curriculum explores patient relationships, reproductive health, and mental health. Once you complete your general education requirements, you will take a combination of the following:

APRN: Advanced Practice Registered Nurse or Nurse Practitioner

Education level: Master’s Degree (MSN)
Average annual salary: $74,639–$114,170 (depending on experience and specialization)

An advanced practice Registered Nurse (APRN) is a nurse with a Masters of Science in Nursing who works in either a specialist or generalist capacity. APRNs are trained in clinical education and are able to integrate theory and practice as well as manage a team of healthcare workers. They make medical diagnoses, evaluate and treat patients, order diagnostic studies, prescribe medicine, perform or assist in minor surgeries and procedures, and counsel patients on health behavior, treatment options, and therapy. Most forms of specialized fall into four recognized areas: nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, clinical nurse specialists (CNSs), and nurse practitioners. Nurse practitioners can choose further specializations, including family, pediatric, adult, geriatric, women’s health, neonatal, acute care, and occupational health.

MSN curriculum: The coursework for a nurse professional wishing to advance his or her career varies, depending on the student’s chosen area of concentration. However, most graduate level nursing courses train practicing nurses to improve patient care, equip them for leadership and management positions, and to develop a specialty. Generally, the curriculum will offer the following:

Nursing at the Doctorate Level

Education level: PhD
Average annual salary: $96,807+

There are three avenues a nursing PhD candidate can choose: the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), the Doctor of Nursing Science (DNS), or the Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD), though often the latter two are considered synonymous. Those who obtain a DNP plan to focus on patient care and nursing practice, pursuing leadership and management roles, while DNS and PhD graduates seek research, nurse scientists, or scholastic positions.

PhD curriculum: As a nursing PhD candidate you will primarily focus on research, taking a combination of interdisciplinary coursework and then consolidating your work on research in an area of specialty and interest. Core classes depend on your focus, but may include education, healthcare administration, public health policy, philosophy of science, methods and statistics, and more.

DNP curriculum: The DNP interdisciplinary course load covers research, systems analysis, and advanced care. As a DNP student you may take a confluence of the following:

Bridge Programs

Best RN BSN 150x150Most bachelor degrees take at least four years to complete, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing being no different, but many colleges and universities offer bridge programs to consolidate the coursework load. So, while both a traditional program, whether undergraduate or graduate, and a bridge program terminate in degrees, the latter takes less time and is specifically designed for working RNs. For more on bridge programs, visit Nurse Journal.

Who Benefits and What are the Benefits of Bridge Programs?

Easily the biggest benefit to enrolling in a nursing bridge program is that you will earn your degree faster. So whether you already have a bachelor degree in another area and wish to transition to nursing, or whether you already have a BSN and want to specialize, a bridge program could be a great option for you. In addition to the allocation of time, nursing bridge programs boast a number of other advantages: they bring together a diverse population of students with various working experience, backgrounds, specialization, and interest. Graduates from these programs are also highly desired by nursing employers, for this exact diversity of experience, for the web of skill, education, and experience of the graduates. And many bridge programs can be completed online. For more on online education, see our section below.

The Different Kinds of Bridge Programs

CNA to LPN

Many nurses begin their careers as certified nursing assistants (CNA). If you’re a CNA and wish to become a licensed practical nurse, taking advantage of a bridge program is a smart choice, as your CNA credits will transfer over and you will be able to move out of the paraprofessional realm with relative facility.

LPN to RN

Transitioning from a LPN (or LVN) to a Registered Nurse can substantially enrich your career, raising your annual salary and providing a number of new nursing opportunities. Registered Nurses have stable, flexible, and lucrative careers, and as an RN you will have the opportunity to work more closely with patients and you will be responsible for many more duties and charges. Plus, once you are an RN, the potential to specialize or advance greatly increases.

LPN to BSN

Similar to the LPN to RN track, obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Nursing will help you transition into the RN profession, though it is the most comprehensive option. During the bridge program you will learn advanced clinical nursing applications, patient education, leadership development, team collaboration, and much more.

RN to BSN

Similarly, RN to BSN programs are for professional working nurses who are seeking to further their education. The bridge program, which builds on the students’ experience and background, is typically multi-tiered: it cultivates professional development—that is the critical thinking, leadership, communication, and research skills—while stimulating diversity and population awareness. RN to BSN programs provide core understanding of the racial, socio-economic, religious, sexual, and ethnic aspects of healthcare.

RN to MSN

Obtaining a Master of Science in Nursing as a Registered Nurse not only advances your career, it will set you apart as an expert in your field. RN to MSN bridge programs are made for working professionals looking to expand their knowledge and experience while maintaining current employment. The program itself will consist of core a nursing curriculum, hands-on experience, and specialization.

Choosing a Specialty

Best Masters in Computer ScienceChoosing a specialty is not like choosing a major because you’re choosing so much more than a trajectory of study; you’re choosing a kind of working environment, a population of people to work with, your threshold of demand and pressure, your relationship with technology, and much more. Below are some of the most popular nursing specialties currently in demand in the healthcare industry, with an overview of the specialty, the daily job responsibilities, its average annual salary, degree requirements, and how to become nurse in that field.

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Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP)

Degree Required:: MSN

Average Annual Salary:: $96,785

An acute care nurse practitioner (ACNP) serves patients who are suffering brief (as opposed to chronic) but severe conditions, including both injury and illness. ACNPs assess, diagnose and treat patients, working together with a healthcare team and the physician, and they work in an array of settings: emergency rooms, operating rooms, community clinics, primary care offices, critical care units, or urgent care facilities.

Rightsfree.icon  e1467829710181The Average Day: Provide care for pre- and post-operative patients, develop treatment plans, stabilize incidents of acute illness or injury, advocate for patients, and more.

 

HOW to BECOME an ACNP:

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Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

Degree Required: MSN

Average Annual Salary: $157,140

A certified Registered Nurse anesthetist (CRNA) administers anesthesia and provides anesthesia-related care to patients before, during, and after surgery. Though CRNAs are advanced RNs, further advancement is an option for those wishing to move into administrative or managerial positions.

Rightsfree.icon  e1467829710181The Average Day: Administer epidurals, handle pain management, provide anesthesia, facilitate emergency room care, oversee operation room care, create recovery procedures.

HOW to BECOME a CRNA:

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Clinical Nurse Specialist

Degree Required: MSN

Average Annual Salary: $62,520–$79,990

A Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) concentrates in an area of health and becomes an expert at diagnosing and treating that area. Clinical Nurse Specialists usually focus on patient care, nurse management, or administration, though sometimes their roles are a confluence of all three. Minimum degree requirements include a Masters of Science in Nursing, if not doctoral work. Clinical Nurse Specialists go on to work in hospitals, universities, outpatient facilities, home care systems, and more.

Rightsfree.iconThe Average Day: Diagnose and propose specialized treatments, provide education on health management, conduct specialized research, analyze patient data and documents, educate patients and families on treatment plans, make managerial decisions.

 

HOW to BECOME a CNS:

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Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)

Degree Required: MSN

Average Annual Salary: $97,990

Family nurse practitioners work with patients throughout the family life cycle in a range of settings: clinics, private practices, hospice centers, health centers, schools, and even homes. FNPs work alongside a physician to diagnose and treat families throughout their lives; they can also seek further specialization in anesthesiology, midwifery, gerontology, neonatal, and more.

Rightsfree.iconThe Average Day: Diagnose illness, prescribe medical and therapeutic treatment, perform check-ups, order and interpret lab tests, promote preventive care.

 

BECOME a FNP:

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Geriatric or Gerontology Nursing

Degree Required: BSN

Average Annual Salary: $67,490

Geriatric nurses work closely with elderly patients, emphasizing preventative care and working alongside the patient’s family. Geriatric nurses are specially trained in the illnesses and injuries common to older populations, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, diabetes, hypertension, and other acute and chronic conditions.

Rightsfree.iconThe Average Day: Perform routine check-ups, create thorough patient care plans, assist with rehabilitative care after injuries, oversee pain management, and help with daily hygiene.

BECOME a GERIATRIC Nurse:

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Home Health Nursing

Degree Required: LPN or BSN

Average Annual Salary: $38,575–$75,631

Though typically many home health nurses work with either the elderly or patients with disabilities, some also work with those recovering from an accident or with younger children who have development or mobility problems. Whichever population home health nurses choose to specialize in, they will mostly assist patients with basic needs (e.g., bathing, dressing, etc.) and administering medicine and treatment.

Rightsfree.iconThe Average Day: Manage patients’ hygiene needs, administer medication, clean and dress injuries, document symptoms and vital signs, educate patients and families on proper home care, manage IV treatment.

 

BECOME a HOME HEALTH NURSE:

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Infectious Disease Nursing

Degree Required: BSN or MSN

Average Annual Salary: $65,950

Infectious Disease (ID) nurses have at least a BSN degree, though many go on to specialize and obtain post-graduate degrees. ID nurses work in hospitals, clinics, community health facilities, non-profit services, and universities to both treat patients and educate populations on disease control. Those nurses with advanced degrees may also have roles in policy, research, administration, and consulting.

Rightsfree.iconThe Average Day: Order and assess tests, connect patients with support groups and services, administer treatment and medication, promote and teach preventive care, design and implement sanitation policies, educate other healthcare professionals about effective prevention against disease and infection.

BECOME an INFECTIOUS DISEASE Nurse:

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Neonatal Nurse

Degree Required: BSN or MSN

Average Annual Salary: $60,407–$92,272

Neonatal nurses work primarily with seriously ill or premature newborn infants, usually in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) of a hospital, to provide concentrated care and vigilance.

Rightsfree.iconThe Average Day: Administer treatment and medication to the baby, change diapers and perform other hygienic tasks, work with parents, create and implement treatment plans, monitor the baby’s condition, including weight and breathing.

BECOME a NEONATAL Nurse:

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Nursing Management

Degree Required: BSN or MSN

Average Annual Salary: $76,540

Nurse managers have many responsibilities, including recruiting, training, and retaining an effective nursing staff. They also communicate with physicians, healthcare administrators, the nursing staff, and the patients and their families, acting as a crucial liaison.

Rightsfree.iconThe Average Day: Hire and supervise a team of nurses, collaborate with physicians and healthcare administrators, oversee budgets and finances, manage paperwork, conduct employee evaluations, organize shift schedules, develop policies and procedures, order equipment and supplies.

BECOME a Nurse MANAGER:

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Nursing Education

Degree Required: BSN, MSN, or PhD

Average Annual Salary: $78,242+

Nurse educators work in many settings, often as both a teacher and patient care provider. They teach and prepare licensed practical nurses (LPN) and Registered Nurses (RN) for entry into practice, as well as teaching at graduate levels to train advance practice nurses, other nurse educators, administrators, researchers, and more.

Rightsfree.iconThe Average Day: Cultivate and implement an academic curriculum, teach both general and specialized nursing courses, create syllabi and course homework, guide classroom discussion, oversee clinical and lab work, supervisor student teachers and interns, grade tests and assignments.

BECOME a Nurse EDUCATOR:

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Oncology Nursing

Degree Required: BSN or MSN

Average Annual Salary: $73,693

Oncology nurses work in a variety of settings—hospitals, specialty hospitals and clinics, care centers, home healthcare—and with patients of all ages to guide and evaluate their care. Those nurses who go on to obtain a MSN and become an Oncology Nurse Practitioner utilize their advanced qualifications to become consultants, educators, researchers, and administrators.

Rightsfree.iconThe Average Day: Care for patients diagnosed with cancer, provide cancer prevention education, administer chemotherapy, help medicate and monitor chemotherapy side effects, oversee long-term health plans.

BECOME an ONCOLOGY Nurse:

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Pediatric Nursing

Degree Required: BSN or MSN

Average Annual Salary: $66,768–$94,445

Pediatric nurses work with patients from infancy to young adulthood, collaborating closely with family doctors to provide both preventative and general care. Pediatric nurses are usually RNs with a BSN, but some go on to become pediatric nurse practitioners (PNP), earning an advanced degree and specialization.

Rightsfree.iconThe Average Day: Provide health maintenance care, such as check-ups, order development screenings, diagnose and treat common childhood illness, give immunizations, provide school physicals, promote preventive care, order and interpret lab and diagnostic tests.

 

BECOME a PEDIATRIC Nurse:

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Psychiatric Nursing

Degree Required: BSN or MSN

Average Annual Salary: $91,299

Psychiatric nurses work with patients and their families to diagnose and manage mental illness, most typically conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression. Because psychiatric nurses are also trained in behavioral therapy, they are able to teach both patients and families how to cope with challenges.

Rightsfree.iconThe Average Day: Diagnose mental illness, assess the needs of the patient, develop treatment plans, help patients develop healthy coping mechanisms, administer treatment, provide crisis intervention, and provide counseling.

 

BECOME a PSYCHIATRIC Nurse:

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Public Health Nursing

Degree Required: BSN or MSN

Average Annual Salary: $39,910–$77,387

Public health nurses, as well as advanced public health nurses, work in a variety of settings, from a patient’s home to a community center, health clinic, hospital, correctional facilities, and more. While most nurses care for one patient at a time, public health nurses care for a community by providing education on health issues—including poor diets, teen pregnancy, social violence, STIs, and substance abuse—striving to improve the community’s health options, and provide better access to care.

Rightsfree.iconThe Average Day: Provide basic care in health clinics, create sustainable plans for community health betterment, assist in disaster relief, give presentations in schools and community centers, draft government proposals for community health projects.

 

BECOME a PUBLIC HEALTH Nurse:

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Women’s Health Nursing

Degree Required: BSN or MSN

Average Annual Salary: $82,183–$102,670

Women’s health nursing, also known as OB/GYN or Obstetrics/Gynecology nursing, entails the comprehensive care of women from puberty to menopause. These nurses help women before, during, and after pregnancies, as well as teach women and adolescent girls about physical and sexual health.

Rightsfree.iconThe Average Day: Perform annual check-ups, assist in labors and deliveries, conduct mammograms and other tests, provide family planning services, educate women on health and disease, administer vaccines and birth control, and provide care for women who have cancer, substance abuse problems, HIV/AIDS, or who are perimenopausal or menopausal.

 

BECOME a WOMEN’S HEALTH Nurse:

Choosing a Nursing School

Most Affordable Online RN to BSNChoosing a nursing school can be overwhelming, intimidating, and shot through with reticence. From deciding on a location to evaluating a faculty board, there are innumerable questions to ask of yourself and the school. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Below is a combination of personal considerations and preferences for choosing a nursing school and objective standards to compare among schools. Once you’ve worked your way through this list, you will know which schools are best for you.

Choose a Specialty

To start, see above for our list of the most popular and in-demand nursing specialties. Before applying to a nursing school or program, think about your interests, preferences, and personality. Ask yourself if you prefer structure and methodological pacing; if so then you may wish to consider research over practice. Or do you prefer working in a fast-paced environment in which every day looks different? Perhaps critical or acute care nursing is for you. Likewise, consider what population of people you want to work with: infants, children, adolescents, adults, or the elderly. When choosing a specialty try to learn as much about it as possible, talk to practicing nurses, and, if possible, shadow a nurse in the area you hope to pursue. Once you’ve chosen a specialty, you can look for a program or school that will best serve you.

Location

Depending on your current location, financial situation, and employment status, a breadth of location options may not be on the table. However, when possible, seek out universities that have recognized nursing schools, especially those with campuses that are also home to a number of hospitals or health centers. Though many schools now offer online nursing classes, most still have on-campus requirements for lab and clinical courses. If you cannot travel far for school then find one that offers a hybrid program, allowing you to take online and on-campus classes. And if you can relocate, find a program that is still affordable (out-of-state tuition is often twice as much as staying in state) yet specializes in the area you seek to pursue.

Clinical Rotation Program

Clinical rotations are one of the most valuable experiences you’ll have while in nursing school, as they will give you a feel for what to expect after graduation. Often, students will not have the opportunity to choose where they do their clinical; the nursing school will facilitate it on their behalf. Furthermore, clinical rotation programs will vary, though all will include acute care hospital experience. But if you do not plan to work in a hospital after graduation, there are schools that will place students in public health agencies, outpatient facilities, health centers, or mental health clinics. The clinical rotation program should play a major role in deciding on a nursing school. Look for variety and flexibility, that is, whether the school allows for enough time to complete the required clinical hours.

NCLEX Pass Rates

The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) is required for every nursing school graduate before one begins to practice, and is typically taken two to three weeks after graduation. It is a standardized exam that each state board of nursing uses to determine whether a candidate is ready to start his or her nursing practice. You are able to request from any school that they provide their pass rates of the NCLEX for the last five to ten years. This will give you an idea of how the curriculum and faculty prepares students for both the exam and their careers. For more on the NCLEX, check out their website.

Accreditation

Start with your State Board of Nursing to find a full list of accredited schools in your state. When looking into a school’s licensure, ensure that the nursing program is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, notably the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Also important to note is whether the college or university is regionally accredited or nationally accredited. Regional accreditation tends to reflect greater emphasis on academic standing and rank, as they have to meet certain standards for academic rigor. Thus, regionally accredited schools tend to be state schools, private colleges and universities, and nonprofit institutions. Credits at regionally accredited schools also transfer to other schools, however they don’t recognize nationally accredited school credits. National accreditors focus on vocational work and don’t determine the quality of education at a given school. Therefore, if possible, seek out a regionally accredited college or university.

Cost

Tuition cost is a huge consideration for nearly every prospective nursing student, but it should never be a deterrent. There are many options, and a variety of option combinations, that can make going to school for the first time or returning a feasible and affordable choice. In searching for a nursing school, here are your financial considerations:

Nursing Career Services

Not all colleges and universities provide nursing career placement services to their students, so find one that does, as it reflects a school’s commitment to student success. Not only should the staff be helpful but able to provide answers to key questions, such as: how many nursing students were able to find full-time employment within a year of earning their degree? What are the starting salaries of the previous year’s graduating class? Do you work with current students on resume building and interview practice?

Flexible Class Schedule

Not all nursing students are balancing school with work, family, and other responsibilities. But many are. Look for schools that provide accommodating class schedules, meaning classes are offered at night and subsequent throughout the year, so if you cannot take a class in the Fall it will not set you back in the Spring. Also look into hybrid (online and on-campus) scheduling.

Faculty

Faculty biographies are available on the school’s website, often listing their publications, current medical positions, classes, research interests, and more. When looking at a nursing program it is imperative you investigate the credentials of the faculty. Look for professors who still practice, who have done and continue to do extensive research in their fields, and who specialize in areas that are of most interest to you. Also look into whether your school emphasizes a mentoring relationship between professors and students, as developing a relationship with your teachers will serve you throughout both your academic and professional career.

Hospital and Clinic Affiliation

Hands down, some of the best schools of medicine in the country are paired with equally renowned hospitals and health centers (e.g., Harvard, Johns Hopkins, the University of Michigan). Not only does attendance at such a school bolster the academic credence on your resume, it provides you with the immense opportunity of obtaining work experience at a prestigious health institution. Even if you do not plan on working in a hospital setting, attend a school with multiple health centers, clinics, research facilities, public health institutes, and more. Get involved and make connections.

Top National Nursing Scholarships

Best Online Bachelor's in Healthcare Administration, 2016No question, tuition costs continue to rise, making the thought of obtaining a degree feel as impossible as it does formidable. However, healthcare applicants are in high demand, especially for nursing positions, and with those come competitive salaries and substantive benefits. And, there are hundreds of scholarships to make attending school affordable. In addition to looking into those we have provided below, we encourage you to continue researching, as there really are hundreds of options. The ones we’ve listed are primarily for undergraduates and grad students and vary in requirements.

Barbara Rhomberg Excellence in Nursing Scholarship

Sponsored by B4 Brands, an eco-friendly wellness company, the Barbara Rhomberg Excellence in Nursing Scholarship is awarded annually to a non-traditional (older students going to college for the first time or returning), full-time student pursing an undergraduate (either an associate or bachelor’s) degree in nursing.

Caroline E. Holt Nursing Scholarship

This is a one-time award for those students who show financial need and who have been accepted into or are already enrolled in an accredited school of nursing.

Charlotte McGuire Education Scholarship

The American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA) sponsors scholarships for both undergraduate and graduate students each year. Requirements include being an active member of AHNA, enrollment in a program committed to holistic nursing, and current RN licensure.

Thriving Care Givers Scholarship

Sponsored by CNA Thrive, an organization devoted to supporting nurses and care givers, the Care Givers Scholarship is awarded to those who are striving to become nurses but have financial hardships. Applicants must be applying or attending a Nursing, LPN, or CNA program.

NBNA Annual Nursing Scholarship

The National Black Nurses Association gives a number of awards each year to current members who are enrolled in a nursing program (BSN, AD, LPN, nursing diploma, LVN, or MSN). Applicants should also be able to demonstrate participation in student nurse activities and involvement in the African American community.

NAHN Nursing Scholarship

The National Association of Hispanic Nurses gives a number of awards each year to current members who are enrolled in a nursing program (BSN, AD, LPN, nursing diploma, LVN, or MSN). Selection of award winners is based on financial need, current academic standing, and demonstrated promise of professional contributions to the nursing profession.

The FNSNA Scholarship

The Foundation of the National Student Nurses Association has awarded over $2 million (about $330,000 annually) in scholarships to undergraduate nursing students since its inception. Candidates are students currently enrolled and matriculated in a nursing program that will lead to an associate degree, BSN, diploma, generic pre-licensure doctorate or master’s degree (only if the graduate degree is the first degree in nursing); or are enrolled in an RN to BSN completion, RN to MSN completion, or LPN/LVN to RN completion program. Candidates will also be chosen based on financial need and proven involvement in student nursing organizations and/or community health activities.

ENA Foundation Scholarships

The Emergency Nurse Association (ENA) Foundation has awarded over $2.5 million dollars since 1991 in both scholarships and research grants. Applicants should already be licensed Registered Nurses who are members of either the American Association of Colleges and Nursing or the National League for Nursing.

Oncology Nursing Society Foundation

Sponsored by the Oncology Nursing Society, scholarship candidates must be enrolled in their senior year of their Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at a NLN or CCNE accredited school of nursing and can demonstrate commitment to oncological nursing. Applicants can be currently licensed as an RN or they can be those not currently licensed but are working toward both degree and licensure.

Udall Undergraduate Scholarship

The Udall Foundation awards scholarships, fellowships, and internships to American Indians and Alaska Natives who are studying healthcare and tribal public policy. Requirements for applicants include being a college sophomore or junior, interest in improving healthcare in Indian country, commitment to Indian or Alaska Native communities, and a proven plan to make a career out of bettering the healthcare system for American Indians or Alaska Natives.

Society of Pediatrics Nurses Scholarship

The Society of Pediatrics Nurses offers an academic education scholarship to two recipients each year. Winners are current members of the society who are either working toward a bachelors in pediatric nursing or an advanced level nursing degree.

Diversity Nursing Education Award

DiversityNursing.com is an organization that works with leaders in the nursing industry to increase diversity in both the work field and among student populations. Each year they award $5,000 to a part-time or full-time student in an accredited school of nursing including, bachelors, graduate, associate, or diploma programs.

NURSE Corps Scholarship

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, specifically the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the NURSE Corps Scholarship Program provides nursing students substantive financial support in exchange for two years of commitment to a qualifying NURSE Corps site. Recipients receive funds covering tuition, books, supplies, and a monthly stipend, and are chosen on qualified applicants with the greatest financial need.

TYLENOL Future Care Scholarship

Each year TYLENOL awards over $250,000 to forty nursing students in varying monetary degrees. Applicants must have completed at least one year of undergraduate study and be able to prove their enrollment in a public health, health education, or nursing program. Since its inception, TYLENOL has given over eight million dollars to students.

AfterCollege AACN Scholarship

AfterCollege is an organization that connects students and new graduates with employers who are hiring. Each year they provide a $10,000 (spread across terms) to nursing students who are pursuing a bachelors, masters, or doctoral degree in nursing. Applicants must be enrolled at an AACN member institution and must themselves be members of AfterCollege.

Hurst AACN Scholarship

Hurst Review Services is a growing NCLEX review company. They have partnered with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing to award scholarships to students pursing professional nursing degrees. Eligible students will not yet have a license.

Geraldine “Polly” Bednash Scholarship

Sponsored by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the Geraldine “Polly” Bednash scholarship is awarded throughout the year to admitted or enrolled students pursuing a nursing degree at an AACN member institution. Applicants must have and maintain at least a 3.2 GPA.

Nursing Economics Foundation Scholarship

Nursing Economics: The Journal for Healthcare Leaders gives awards each year to Registered Nurses who are matriculating into an accredited graduate program and are pursuing a degree emphasizing administration, management, leadership, or education.

Emily Slaughter Community Foundation Scholarship

The Emily Slaughter Community Foundation aims to cultivate and inspire better hospice service through grant and scholarship giving. Each year they choose a student studying nursing and caregiving and who demonstrates strong academic standing, involvement in community services, and a commitment to caregiving. Eligibility requirements include enrollment in an accredited nursing aide program and winners are expected to complete twenty-four hours of community service.

Online Nursing Degrees

Best Online Master's in Computer ScienceDeciding whether to return to school, or go for the first time, is a huge decision. If you are working full-time and trying to determine if you can fit school into your crowded schedule, if you can afford tuition payments on top of your other bills, and if there will be a payoff post graduation, the answer is yes! In terms of distance learning, online nursing programs have a long and substantive history. Getting your degree online is a flexible, affordable way to advance your career. And, many bridge programs are also offered online, which means you can anticipate finishing the degree at a more affordable and faster rate. Here are some considers we at College Choice encourage you to work through first.

Should You Get an Online Degree?

Most colleges and universities offer classes, if not whole degree programs, online, recognizing that many of their students do not reflect the experience of the “traditional student.” That is, so many students these days are now working professionals, veterans, and single parents, and with the change and growth in distance learning the stigma of earning a degree online has dropped precipitously. Furthermore, many colleges and universities do not even formally differentiate between a degree earned on campus and one earned online. So, whether you wish to complete your program fully online or to do a hybrid program—one that combines both on-campus and distance learning—there are many great reasons to consider it:

1

It enacts a sense of stability

Are you already working full-time as an RN? An online degree may be the best option for you then, as distance learning will allow you to maintain many or all of your current job hours. Some programs even allow you to fulfill clinical requirement hours at your current place of employment.

2

It encourages independence

With online classes you will choose how to progress through your degree, both in terms of pacing—how fast or slow you wish to move through the program—and formatting, how you plan to group classes together.

3

It's flexibe

No one knows you better than yourself. You know what kind of work most excites you, where you are the most productive, and what you need to be successful. An online education gives you the opportunity to create your own classroom and class hours, to work at your own pace, and to design a program you’re passionate about.

4

It’s more affordable

Though some colleges and universities apply resident status to their online tuition rates, many do not. Which means you can attend an out-of-state university at the same cost as residents. And, of course, you will save on commuting costs as well.

5

It emphasizes mentorship

Due to the evolving relationship between universities and their student population, plus the increase demand for flexible, affordable, and online learning, the distance platform emphasizes the student to teacher relationship. Not only will you receive heightened attention and instruction from your teachers, you will have the opportunity to work one-on-one with some of the best in the field, as many distance educators are full-time faculty on campus.

At College Choice we strongly emphasize doing the same amount of research for online programs as you would a traditional program. There are many advantages to taking classes online, completing a distance education degree, or enrolling in a hybrid program. But you will still want to connect with admissions counselors. Inquire about what resources and services are available to you as an online student, ensuring you will receive similar if not equivalent support as traditional students. And be sure the program you enroll in is accredited by a recognized nursing school accreditation organization, such as the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Students have many questions about online academia, and even more about online nursing programs. Below are some of the most frequent questions nursing students ask about earning an online degree.

1

How do online programs work exactly?

The assignments are hosted on a website, which also serves as a meeting place for students to engage in class discussion. Teachers will post lectures and coursework material, sometimes facilitating either a class talk or a one-on-one conversation. Because of the nature of online learning, your teacher may opt to test less and instead give out written exams. Or, he or she will coordinate with a testing facility near you to have your exams proctored.

2

What degrees can I get online?

The most common online nursing programs offer bachelor and masters degrees. Though some also offer certificate options as well as advanced doctoral degrees.

3

How will I fulfill my clinical requirements?

Nursing degrees, by their very nature, are hands on. So, unlike many other online degrees, you’ll need to pair theory with practicum, making the clinical portion of your degree one of the most crucial elements of your education. Most online nursing programs will facilitate your clinical for you, finding a hospital or clinic in your community to host you.

4

Will I have to go to campus at all?

This really depends on the college or university. While some schools allow students to complete all of their coursework—including assignments, tests, and even presentations—from a distance, others require on-campus residencies. These residencies are usually brief, a few days or a week at the most, and are held once a year or less. Look into all the on-campus requirements, as it may mean travel and thus, travel expense.

5

Is online learning easier?

No, assignments and exams are just as difficult online as they are in the traditional classroom. And because you’re guiding your own way through the curriculum, this presents an added challenge. However, this is why diplomas from distance programs hold the same value as diplomas from traditional programs.

6

Will I be eligible for financial aid and scholarships?

If the program is regionally accredited by a nursing accreditation organization then you will be eligible for federal financial aid and national scholarships (in addition to any scholarships the college offers). This is a reason to seek out a program that is regionally (as opposed to nationally) accredited. Also see above for a list of the nation’s top scholarships for nursing students.

7

Will my credits transfer?

Again, another reason to seek out a regionally accredited program is that the credits are fully transferable. So if you decide to take some classes online then move to a traditional on-campus classroom (even if it is at a different school) you will not have to retake any classes. Likewise, your accredited online degree prepares you for graduate work.

Resources

Best Online Nurse Practitioner ProgramsAt College Choice we’ve attempted to provide the most thorough and extensive resource for nursing students. However, the world of nursing is a vast one, with many routes—and combinations of—to help you achieve your vocational goals. And for that reason, we encourage you to keep researching, to reach out and connect with an array of sources and services. Below we’ve listed some relevant organizations, foundations, publications, and networking connections that are crucial for nursing students.

American Nurses Association
The American Nurses Association (ANA) has been around since 1896, advancing and protecting the professional careers of nurses. The ANA plays a big role in establishing professional standards in nursing practice, fighting for nurses’ rights in the workplace, and promoting and advancing both the financial and general health of nurses. The ANA is also home to three subsidiary organizations: the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the American Academy of Nursing, and the American Nurses Foundation. Additionally, they also publish American Nurse, The American Nurse, and The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing.
The Foundation of National Student Nurses’ Association
The National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA) is a nonprofit organization that mentors nursing students (those enrolled in associate, baccalaureate, diploma, and graduate programs), helping them prepare for licensure as a Registered Nurse. With over 50,000 members, the NSNA is a great way to connect with other students as well as receive guidance and aid during your nursing education. In fact, the NSNA has given over $2 million in scholarships since its lifetime. Become a member and receive a number of services, such as discounts on prep for the NCLEX exam and scrubs!
National Council of State Boards of Nursing
Home to the infamous NCLEX-RN exam, which gives licensure to practice nursing, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) is a non-profit organization. It is comprised of all the boards of nursing across all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and four U.S. territories. Together they provide standards of excellence for public health. The NCSBN is basically the one-stop shop for nurses, wherever you are in your nursing career or education.
Nursing Jobs
Nurses are, indisputably, in high demand. To help you find the perfect job, visit Nursingjobs.org to search open positions by degree, specialty, location, travel preferences, and by part or full time needs. The site also provides guidance on degree programs, other job boards, forums, and more.
Sigma Theta Tau
Sigma Theta Tau, the Honor Society of Nursing, is the second largest nursing organization in the world, boasting over 135,000 active members. Undergraduate and graduate nursing students who demonstrate academic excellence, leadership, and commitment are eligible for membership. They are also home to the Virginia Henderson Global Nursing Library.
The Virginia Henderson Global Nursing Library
The Virginia Henderson Global Nursing Repository is the only one of its kind, solely devoted to sharing research and works by nurses around the world. It provides open access to academic and clinical scholarship services, meaning anyone can access the repository at no charge. Dissertations, theses, study reports, conference papers, committee reports, presentation slides, and journal articles are just some of the content made available. This is an indispensible resource for nurses and nursing students.

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