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How long do I have to go to school to be a nurse?

The amount of time that a person has to spend in school to become a nurse varies depending on a number of factors. These factors include what type of nurse a person wants to be and if the person wants to work in a specialty field that requires advanced education. However, for most people it will take between one and four years to complete the training needed to become a nurse.

Types of Nurses
In general, there are two broad categories of nurses: Licensed Professional Nurses and Registered Nurses. A Licensed Professional Nurse, or LPN, typically requires the completion of a program of study that lasts about one year. A Registered Nurse, or RN, requires at least two years of training. However, in most cases, an RN will complete more than two years of training before qualifying for licensure to work as a nurse.

Training Programs
While programs of study to become an LPN typically last about one year, educational programs to become an RN may last from two to four years. RNs can receive training through a diploma or an associate degree program, both of which take about two years to complete. However, many students wanting to become an RN choose to pursue a four year, bachelor level degree. In most cases, both LPNs and RNs learn the skills needed through a combination of classroom education and practical experience. For example, a nursing education program would include supervised clinical practice where the student would perform nursing duties under the close supervision of instructors or other medical professionals.

Advanced Education
RNs can also choose to complete more training to be eligible for a wider variety of nursing jobs. Master level nursing degrees are available for those RNs who hold a bachelor’s degree. With a master’s degree, a nurse will more easily qualify for positions in management and education. Master level degrees generally require two years of study to complete. There are also specialized doctoral programs for nurses wanting to advance in their careers or specialize in specific areas such as medical research. Doctoral programs generally require two or more years to complete.

Advanced Positions
A registered nurse can choose to pursue additional education and become an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). An APRN has more ability to treat patients than a standard RN, including the authority to prescribe medications. One area of employment for an APRN is as a Nurse Practitioner. As a Nurse Practitioner, a person will see patients and treat them in a similar manner as would a doctor. However, most states require Nurse Practitioners to work under the supervision of a doctor.

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