Nursing Schools Colleges & Universities

Registered nurses (RNs) provide medical care and emotional support for patients in a variety of settings. Caring for the sick is a challenging and rewarding task - is it right for you? Learning more about nursing colleges can help you decide.

Support for the Sick - Careers and Degrees in Nursing:

Key Personal Attributes for Nurses: If you want to be an effective nurse, you should be a good problem solver and be able to make quick decisions in high-stress situations. Long shifts and emotionally taxing scenarios are commonplace in many work settings for nurses, so patience and resilience are important characteristics for you to possess. You should enjoy working with others in a team, but you should be able to work independently as well. Above all, you should have a strong commitment to high-quality patient care.

Admission Requirements for Nursing Colleges: Bachelor's degrees, associate's degrees, and diploma programs in nursing require a high school diploma (or equivalent) for admission. Master's programs for more specialized nursing practices require a bachelor's degree as a prerequisite.

Available Degrees in Nursing: You can become a registered nurse in one of three ways:

  • Bachelor's of Science Degree in Nursing (BSN): These programs are offered at 4-year colleges and universities.
  • Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN): These programs are offered at 2- or 3-year junior and community colleges.
  • Nursing Diploma: These programs are offered directly by hospitals.

BSN degrees provide the most opportunity for advancement, and ADN- and diploma-holders can often take advantage of employer-sponsored programs that facilitate graduation to a BSN.

Master's degree programs in nursing require a BSN, and they provide training for more advanced, specialized nursing disciplines.

Top-Ranked Nursing Schools: U.S. News and World Report publishes rankings of degree programs in a wide range of fields. Rankings are based on job placement rate, faculty/student ratio, and program funding, among other criteria. Some schools with the highest-ranking master's programs in nursing are:

  • • University of Washington
  • • University of California--San Francisco
  • • University of Pennsylvania
  • • Johns Hopkins University
  • • University of Michigan--Ann Arbor

Nursing Associations: Many opportunities exist for nurses to gain membership in professional societies and organizations. The American Nurses Association is the largest nursing organization in the U.S., and there are numerous other groups dedicated to nurses in a variety of specialties and demographics, such as the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, the American Assembly for Men in Nursing, and the National Association of School Nurses.

Current Income and Employment Information for Individuals with Degrees in Nursing: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2009, the mean annual wage for those individuals employed as registered nurses across all industries in the U.S. was $66,753. More than 70% of these individuals were employed by general medical and surgical hospitals; however, the highest-paying industry for these jobs was the Federal Executive Branch, with a mean annual wage of $77,830. Other industry sectors that are major employers of nurses include physician's offices, home health care services, nursing care facilities, and outpatient care centers.

On a state level, Massachusetts ranks highly among states with a high concentration of registered nurse employees (26.8 per thousand workers in May 2009), and it is the second-highest paying state at an annual mean wage of $81,780.

From 2008-2018, national employment of registered nurses is expected to grow by 22 percent. Of note, in physician's offices specifically, employment growth is projected to be an impressive 48 percent.

With an optimistic job growth outlook, competitive wages, and a rewarding environment, nursing is a smart career choice. Is it right for you?

The writer Dave Raiser is a doctoral candidate in Biological and Biomedical Sciences at Harvard Medical School. In addition to substantial experience in biomedical research, his industry experience includes work for a biological and clinical data search engine company, a biotechnology review blog, and an idea-to-market inventor services company. Dave has bachelor's degrees in biology and music from the University of Richmond.

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