Understanding the Different Levels of Nursing

By Genevieve Carlton

Published on September 16, 2021

Understanding the Different Levels of Nursing

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5 Interviews About the Different Levels of Nursing: CNA, LPN, RN, APRN, NP

More than four million nurses work in the United States. As nurses earn higher degrees, they see their earning potential increase. Demand for nurses continues to grow, making nursing a strong career path.

Though people often equate nurses with RNs, nursing professionals hold various levels of nursing credentials. CNAs or LPNs provide basic nursing care, while APRNs, including NPs, offer advanced specialty care. This article introduces the levels of nursing, from CNAs with a four-week diploma to APRNs with a doctorate.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Nurse - Nursing Timeline

A typical nursing degree can take 2-4 years to complete. Each level of nursing has its own timeline, and that timeline can vary depending upon factors like part-time vs. full-time enrollment, certification, and the type of program. 

Below is an overview of the typical amount of time it takes to complete a nursing degree, keep in mind that the length provided is for the amount of time it takes to complete that segment of the degree, not the entire academic path overall:

Nursing Degree Level Time of Completion
Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) 2-3 years
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) 1-2 years
Registered Nurse (RN) 4 years
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) 4-5 years
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) 1.5-3 years
Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) 1-3 years

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Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

A CNA assists nurses by providing basic nursing care for patients. In hospitals, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities, CNAs help patients with daily tasks like bathing and dressing. They transfer patients between their bed and a wheelchair. They also report health concerns to senior nurses and measure vital signs.

Of all CNAs, 37% work in nursing care facilities, while another 27% work in hospitals. CNAs also work in retirement communities, assisted living facilities, and home healthcare services. In a typical workday, CNAs spend much of their time standing and moving. Many CNAs work night and weekend shifts.

What are the Requirements to Become a CNA?

CNAs complete a state-approved training program. Community colleges, vocational schools, hospitals, and organizations like the Red Cross all offer CNA programs. These programs typically take 4-12 weeks. During that time, students strengthen their nursing skills through coursework and clinical training. They study basic nursing tasks like bathing patients, repositioning patients, and assisting nurses with medical procedures.

Graduates must pass a CNA exam that tests nursing skills through multiple-choice questions and a clinical skills assessment. With passing scores, CNAs earn a spot on their state registry and begin working.

Frequently Asked Questions About CNAs

true Q. Is a CNA an RN?

No, a CNA differs from an RN. CNAs work under the supervision of an RN or LPN. They offer basic nursing care and assist registered nurses.

true Q. How many years is a CNA program?

CNA programs generally take 4-12 weeks, depending on the program. Some colleges offer online CNA programs that last as little as four weeks.

true Q. How much do CNAs make?

CNAs earn a median annual salary of $30,830, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The field reports much-faster-than-average projected job growth from 2019-2029, at 8%.

Interview with a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

A critical care nurse with 10 years of experience in cardiovascular, surgical intensive care, and neurological trauma nursing, Nicholas also puts his background in education, leadership, and public speaking to work by helping other nurses.

Nicholas is an online learner who builds on his foundation of critical care nursing — which he uses directly at the bedside — where he still practices. In addition, Nicholas hosts an online course at Critical Care Academy, where he helps nurses achieve critical care certification.

Q. How did you become interested in becoming a CNA?"

My first job out of high school was an entry-level patient care technician at a retirement home. I enjoyed working with the patient residents and wanted to help them more. So the facility trained me and paid for my CNA license.

Q. What does a typical day at work look like for you?

The duties of a CNA depend on where you work (nursing home, rehab center, hospital, etc.), what shift you work (morning vs. evening), and what your state department of health permits.

For day shift, after clocking in, the CNA receives their assignment and briefly reviews the patient's care plan for any pertinent information. Then they assist with patient care, such as helping patients out of bed, dressing, grooming, and feeding. Morning vital signs are also collected at this time, as well as how much the patient ate, and the results reported to the nurse for documentation.

After lunch, the CNA assists with activities, such as range of motion, or helps transport patients to therapy or other procedures. The CNA also stocks medical supplies, changes linens, provides ice water, and answers patient call lights. Different hospitals and facilities will have unique requirements and responsibilities for their CNAs. Essentially, CNAs help perform critical tasks that ensure patients are well-cared-for and safe during their hospital stay.

Q. What are the benefits of being a CNA?

Working as a CNA is a very important role among the healthcare team. One of the biggest advantages of being a CNA is the autonomy. If you enjoy caring for others, keeping a clean environment, and building relationships among your coworkers and patients — all with less than six months of training — then being a CNA is a fantastic option.

Q. What are the challenges of being a CNA?

You need to be able to physically handle people, as well as work with different equipment such as mobility aids, wheelchairs, and therapy beds. You also need to be in decent shape and be able to stay on your feet for long periods of time. Being a CNA is a physically demanding job that requires lifting, pushing, and pulling several patients a day while ensuring proper body mechanics and patient safety.

Q. What advice would you give to students interested in becoming a CNA?

Make a list and visit the resident care facilities and hospitals in your area to inquire about job openings and requirements. Decide where you would like to see yourself working and if there are opportunities for growth and career advancement. It's also important to consider the distance of the facility from home and what the commute would be like during the times you arrive and leave.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

An LPN, also known as a licensed vocational nurse (LVN), provides nursing care under RN or physician supervision. They assess patient health by taking vital signs and administer basic care. LPNs maintain records and report information to RNs. In some states, LPNs and LVNs administer medication, start IV drops, and supervise CNAs.

LPNs work in many healthcare settings. Most LPNs work in hospitals, nursing homes, or residential care facilities. They also work in doctors' offices, home healthcare services, and government healthcare facilities. These nurses spend much of the day lifting patients, standing, and moving. LPNs often work long shifts, including night and weekend work.

What are the Requirements to Become an LPN?

LPNs earn a certificate or diploma from an approved program. Community colleges, technical schools, and hospitals offer LPN programs. During their program, nursing students study basic patient care, pharmacology, and clinical nursing skills. Most LPN programs, which blend classroom and clinical training, take around one year to complete.

After completing their program, LPNs must pass the NCLEX-PN exam. Every state requires passing exam scores to receive a practical nursing license and become an LPN. In addition to licensure, LPNs can pursue voluntary certifications. LPNs can increase their earning potential with an LPN-to-RN program.

Frequently Asked Questions About LPNs

true Q. What's the difference between an RN and an LPN?

Compared to an LPN, an RN provides more complex patient care. LPNs typically spend less time in school and earn lower salaries than RNs.

true Q. How long is an LPN program?

An LPN program typically takes around one year to complete. Some programs offer accelerated pathways that require as little as seven months. Part-time programs may take up to two years.

true Q. How much does an LPN make?

According to the BLS, LPNs earn a median annual salary of $48,820. The profession reports much-faster-than-average projected job growth of 9% from 2019-2029.

Interview with a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

Nicholas McGowan is a registered LPN, you can read more about his background in his bio above.

Q. How did you become interested in becoming an LPN?

After working as a CNA, I wanted to understand more about the health of my patients and provide more advanced care for them. An LPN was the next option. I enrolled in a local community college program, and after one year, I earned my license to be an LPN.

Q. What does a typical day at work look like for you?

Depending on the facility you practice at (clinic, rehab center, long-term care, sub-acute, or hospital), the job duties vary. After clocking in, the LPN gets their patient assignment and reviews the patient's chart and plan of care after receiving a report from the previous shift.

The LPN then conducts patient rounds by checking vital signs and giving morning medications. Advanced procedures such as tracheostomy care, suctioning, and wound care are all performed by the LPN. Some states permit LPNs to start IVs and hang fluids with an advanced IV certification. In the afternoon, the LPN follows up on lab results and any new physician orders for treatment or medication. At the end of the shift, the LPN ensures the patients' plan of care is met and provides a report to the oncoming shift.

Q. What are the benefits of being an LPN?

LPNs enjoy greater autonomy and flexibility in caring for patients. If you want to learn more about the human body, illness, and treatment, as well as provide more advanced care for your patients without going to school for over three years, then becoming an LPN is a great option. Depending on your state, you can earn extra certifications to provide advanced treatment, as well as earn competitive wages and benefits.

Q. What are the challenges of being an LPN?

You need to be able to recognize if a patient is deteriorating and communicate effectively with your colleagues. There is an escalation process, and the patient depends on the LPN to respond well to situations that require critical thinking and communication. This can be a struggle for nurses who don't work well with a team.

Q. What advice would you give to students interested in becoming an LPN?

Make sure you leave yourself opportunity for career advancement. In some states, the pay differential between LPNs and RNs is very large, with the only difference being six more months of school for an RN license. For some who are on a strict timeline and a tight budget, six months might seem like a long time. But for the majority, six months goes quickly when you consider the differences over the lifetime of your career. Nonetheless, if you find a fulfilling role at a facility where LPNs are valued, highly regarded, and well-compensated, you'll never have to "work" a day in your life!

Registered Nurse (RN)

RNs provide advanced patient care in hospitals, doctors' offices, and other healthcare settings. They assist physicians during diagnostic tests and surgical procedures. For their daily responsibilities, RNs conduct health assessments, educate patients about medical conditions, and administer doctor-prescribed treatments. RNs also operate medical equipment, create care plans, and train patients at home.

At RN levels of nursing, nurses pursue specialties like pediatric nursing, surgical nursing, emergency care, and cardiac care. A majority of RNs work in hospital settings, where they often work irregular hours and long shifts. In 2019, more than three million RNs worked across the country.

What are the Requirements to Become an RN?

RNs must complete an approved nursing education program and pass the NCLEX-RN exam to earn their license. Community colleges, vocational schools, and hospitals offer RN programs. During nursing school, students take courses in human anatomy, pharmacology, and physiology. Nursing students also complete clinical rotations to strengthen their patient care skills.

In most states, nurses can apply for their RN license with a nursing diploma or associate. Both take around two years to complete. A four-year bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree also prepares graduates for RN licensure. RN license candidates typically complete a background check.

Frequently Asked Questions About RNs

true Q. What is the difference between an RN and a BSN?

An RN, or registered nurse, may hold an associate degree, a nursing diploma, or a BSN. In New York, RNs must earn a BSN within ten years to renew their license.

true Q. Can I become an RN online?

Yes, some nursing schools offer online RN programs, including RN-to-BSN programs. Online learners complete coursework through a distance learning platform while meeting clinical requirements in their local area.

true Q. How much does an RN make?

Registered nurses earn a median annual salary of $75,330, according to BLS data. The field reports 7% projected job growth from 2019-2029, faster than the national average.

Interview with a Registered Nurse (RN)

Glenda Hargrove is a registered nurse living in Atlanta, Georgia. She has practiced in varied clinical settings, including long-term care, inpatient rehabilitation, neurology intensive care, corrections, primary care, and telehealth.

Glenda entered the nursing profession with a diploma, obtained a BSN, and is currently working towards a master of science in nursing (MSN) for nursing informatics. She is the mother of two children, Nya and Noah, and a dog named Harley. In addition to being a registered nurse, she is also a realtor and owner of Pill Apparel, an apparel brand for nurses and everyone who loves them.

Q. How did you become interested in becoming an RN?

My grandmother, Bettie Short, was a nurse, and she inspired me to become one. Her first career was being a homemaker, and after raising her children, she went to nursing school.

Q. What does a typical day at work look like for you?

I have worked in varied clinical settings, and right now I am working in telehealth. A typical day for me includes monitoring a panel of patients with chronic health conditions to help manage these conditions better and prevent hospitalizations. I often review blood pressure, heart rate, weight, and oxygen saturation, amongst other things. Based on trends and abnormalities, I will contact the patient to assess their condition and their physician for follow-up interventions. Trust me, there is never a dull moment, and I enjoy every minute of it.

Q. What are the benefits of being an RN?

The benefits of being an RN are endless. Besides being in the top-ranked trusted profession, you have the option to travel as a nurse, become an entrepreneur, become certified in a specialty, advance in your career and education, and have job security.

Q. What are the challenges of being an RN?

The biggest challenges of being an RN are the physical demands, emotional burnout, inflexible schedules, and long work hours. Plus, at some point, every nurse feels unappreciated by their coworkers and employers.

Q. What advice would you give to students interested in becoming an RN?

To become an RN, I would advise interested students first to seek nursing schools they would be interested in attending. Learn more about their admission criteria, prerequisites, and program requirements. Preparing for nursing school is just as important as attending nursing school.

During nursing school, time management is a priority. Connect with your peers and instructors, be a sponge at clinical learning as much as you can, and never be afraid to ask questions. If you encounter any detours along this journey, that's ok; keep going.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)

An APRN offers primary and specialty care. Nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists, and clinical nurse specialists all work as APRNs. Depending on their specialization, these nurses conduct health assessments, order diagnostic tests, and create treatment plans. They advise patients on managing medical conditions and work closely with other healthcare professionals.

Careers at the advanced practice levels of nursing require strong leadership and interpersonal abilities. Like other nurses, APRNs work closely with patients, their families, and healthcare professionals. Nearly half of APRNs work in doctors' offices. They also work in hospitals and outpatient care centers.

What are the Requirements to Become an APRN?

An APRN holds a graduate degree in nursing. Most APRNs complete 1-2 years of work experience as an RN before entering graduate school. APRNs specialize their training at the graduate level. In nurse anesthetist programs, for example, nurses study pathophysiology, pain management, and advanced health assessment. They complete clinical hours to build advanced practice skills.

MSN or doctor of nursing practice (DNP) graduates must pass a national certification exam in their specialization. The program must have included clinical hours. APRNs can then apply for a state license and begin practicing.

Frequently Asked Questions About APRNs

true Q. Is an APRN the same as a nurse practitioner?

A nurse practitioner qualifies as an APRN. Nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists, and clinical nurse specialists also qualify. Most levels of nursing that require a graduate degree qualify.

true Q. How much does an APRN make?

A nurse practitioner qualifies as an APRN. Nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists, and clinical nurse specialists also qualify. Most levels of nursing that require a graduate degree qualify.

true Q. What does an advanced practice registered nurse do?

APRNs diagnose medical conditions, administer anesthesia, provide labor and delivery care, and prescribe medications. They specialize in multiple areas, including family care, women's health, and pain management.

Interview with an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)

Dr. Kiiyonna Jones, APRN, is the owner and founder of Luxe Beauty and Wellness Boutique in Bellflower, California. She worked as a bedside nurse for over 10 years before pursuing her entrepreneurial journey. Her background includes not only bedside nursing but also working as a nurse administrator and nursing faculty at a baccalaureate nursing program.

Dr. Jones obtained her BS in health promotion and disease prevention from the University of Southern California; her MS from the University of California, Los Angeles; her Ph.D. in nursing from the University of San Diego; and her post-master's family nurse practitioner (FNP) certificate from Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science.

Q. How did you become interested in becoming an APRN?

I was always interested in becoming an APRN, but was unsure if it was a good fit since my initial long-term goals did not align with the role of an APRN. At the time, I was not an entrepreneur and really did not know what path I was going to take. I initially thought I wanted to be a chief nursing officer (CNO), but soon realized that was not the best position. I ultimately wanted to leave the hospital setting and work within the community.

Eventually, I started a permanent makeup studio, and an opportunity presented itself for me to open a MedSpa. Although I could open a MedSpa under my nurses' licence with a collaborative physician as my medical director in the state of California, I felt it would be ideal if I obtained my advanced degree as well.

Q. What does a typical day at work look like for you?

As a MedSpa owner, it is definitely not the daily life of a typical APRN. As an entrepreneur, there is a lot of time spent working on the business. For example, it is my responsibility to make sure business financial goals are met, support the team, train the team, and see patients.

On any given day, I see approximately 10-15 patients, and I like to work as a clinician within the business about 3-4 days a week. I have colleagues who work in primary care, and they approximate about 30-40 patients per day, just to give a rough comparison. The upside to that is that they can go to work and not think about the operations of the business; unfortunately, I do not have that luxury.

Q. What are the benefits of being an APRN?

Usually, APRNs work clinic hours, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., with holidays off. There are, however, APRNs who work in the hospital setting and therefore may work 12-hour shifts. The work of an APRN does not require much physical labor, such as pulling up patients, cleaning patients, or repositioning patients. However, seeing 30-40 patients per day is no easy feat. Financial compensation for an experienced APRN is more than an experienced bedside nurse, as an APRN is at the advanced level of or clinical scope of practice.

Q. What are the challenges of being an APRN?

As an APRN, I am often compared to primary care physicians. I believe the reason this occurs is because patients do not have a clear understanding of the difference between an APRN and a physician. Also, I have obtained my Ph.D., and I am referred to as Dr. Jones. So, I constantly educate patients about how I am a medical provider named "Dr. Jones," but I am not a doctor.

Another challenge we face, especially working in non-full practice authority states, is that we have to work with a physician and cannot work independently, even though we do the same work and treat the same patients in primary care settings.

Lastly, the workload in primary care settings can be a challenge, especially since in the same setting, the MD sees the same patients but gets about half the workload as the APRN. I will admit, however, that the benefits of being an APRN far exceed the challenges, especially for nurses who love working in primary care settings instead of hospitals.

Q. What advice would you give to students interested in becoming an APRN?

There are so many different specialties as an APRN. Be sure you select a specialty that is in alignment with who you are, where you will find enjoyment. Although the income level of an experienced APRN is much higher than most registered nurse positions, it is important not to let money be the motivating factor for pursuing an advanced practice degree.

Moreover, be sure to research the specialties being considered in order to make an informed decision about which APRN specialty you are applying to. Lastly, finding a mentor who has experience in their role can provide insight into the profession from the mentor's perspective and may allow the applicant to make a more informed decision.

Nurse Practitioner (NP)

An NP offers primary and specialty care to patients of all ages. They specialize in family care, pediatric care, psychiatric and mental health, and geriatric care. NPs conduct health assessments, perform diagnostic tests, and diagnose medical conditions. In many states, NPs can order lab tests, prescribe medications, and operate independently of physicians.

Neonatal nurse practitioners work with newborns requiring intensive care. Family nurse practitioners treat children and adults. Women's health nurse practitioners specialize in primary care for women. Most nurse practitioners work in doctors' offices and hospitals, where they act as leaders within their organizations.

What are the Requirements to Become an NP?

An NP holds an MSN or DNP in their nurse practitioner specialization. During a graduate NP program, nurses study primary care, advanced health assessment, and advanced practice nursing. They also complete over 500 hours of clinical training in their specialty. Most NP programs require 2-4 years of study, depending on the specialization.

After earning their degree, NPs complete national certification requirements to receive their state nurse practitioner license. NPs pursue certification from organizations like the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board, the American Nurses Credentialing Center, and the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board.

Frequently Asked Questions About NPs

true Q. How many years does it take to become a nurse practitioner?

Nurse practitioners typically hold both a BSN and an MSN. Most MSN programs for nurse practitioners require 2-4 years.

true Q. Is a nurse practitioner the same as a doctor?

Nurse practitioners provide primary and specialty care. Like doctors, they can diagnose medical conditions, create treatment plans, and prescribe medication. Rather than attending medical school, nurse practitioners hold an MSN degree.

true Q. What is the starting salary of a nurse practitioner?

According to the 2020 ​​Medscape APRN Compensation Report, nurse practitioners with under five years of experience earned an average salary of $109,000.

Interview with a Nurse Practitioner (NP)

Dr. Patrice Little is a family nurse practitioner, consultant, and writer who leads a lifestyle and educational resource that helps better position NP students for life, career, and business. She is candid about her wins and regrets in life. She also encourages NP students to embrace their own so they can live their best life as healthcare providers.

Q. How did you become interested in becoming an NP?

I became interested in learning about nurse practitioners at the same time that I learned about ecstasy, a club drug also known as "molly." At the time, the concerns of overdosing on ecstasy were similar to the concerns we have about opioids today. Many institutions were forced to address these concerns on college campuses as a form of prevention, and my school's NP facilitated a campus town hall meeting on ecstasy during my sophomore year.

Coming up as a first-generation American, I was only given three options as targeted professions: doctor (physician), lawyer, and engineer. I was on track for my biology/pre-medicine degree, and then this town hall meeting introduced me to another option.

I wanted to learn more about NPs and how they were able to function in the role of a physician without being one. This NP was knowledgeable and spoke with us at a level we could understand as young adults. Luckily, she was married to my chemistry professor, which opened up an opportunity for me to further build my relationship with her. This rapport developed into a mentorship, and I began to volunteer at the student health center to learn all that I could about the day in the life of an NP.

Q. What does a typical day at work look like for you?

I typically begin my day the night before to ensure that the next day I am in a productive mental space for the unexpected, such as procedures or walk-ins. I start with reviewing my appointment calendar to see the various chief complaints for the day. They're also called "patients concern" or "chief concern."

As an FNP, I primarily care for and treat common conditions such as colds, high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes (diabetes mellitus), and obesity and conduct preventative exams. My patient load and duration of visits depend on the reason for the visits. On average, if there are little to no preventative visits (a review of one's overall health) scheduled, I see 25-30 patients in a day.

For patient visits that are follow-ups, I review their charts from the previous visit or more depending on the level of care they require. For new patients, I review their questionnaires to learn a little about them before I meet them. This practice mentally prepares me for the next day.

The day of the visit, I meet with my nurse to discuss the plan for that day and lay out what tools, tests, or referrals I anticipate for each patient. Of course, what the patient shares, what I assess, and what I decide during the visit may be different from what I anticipate. Then we proceed with seeing the patients for the day. I document the visit and submit prescriptions via e-scripts as I go because it is impossible to remember everything throughout a busy day to document those important details later.

Depending on the visit type and the patient's questions, a visit can last 10-45 minutes. I am intentional about ending each visit with their questions answered. Having patient education handouts ready is a good way to ensure this when you have a full day.

When it comes to self-care, I go to bed early to get at least eight hours of rest so I can be the best for my patients the next day. I bring my lunch to work so I can get the most out of my break, as there is no time to leave the practice to get lunch and come back. I prefer not to work through my breaks to avoid becoming burnt out in the long run.

Q. What are the benefits of being an NP?

The benefits of being an NP are individualized and can vary from the rewarding salary to the impact you have on someone's life. The salary allows me to invest in building a business while living comfortably. It is also a bonus to the pleasure I get helping others become actively involved in the care and witnessing their transformations. I enjoy the flexibility of time so I can also focus on being a wife, a mother, and working on my personal goals.

Q. What are the challenges of being an NP?

The three biggest challenges for today's NP are transitioning into practice, educating the public on the roles of NPs, and finding a collaborative physician.

In any field, transitioning from a student to a professional is challenging because there is a lack of confidence, even though you can do the job. It is even more challenging for NPs because healthcare involves life or death. Although NPs can do many tasks similar to physicians, they have fewer hours of training in doing the same thing, which increases their risk for malpractice. To avoid mishaps, more and more NPs are applying to residencies to get additional training and boost their confidence as new providers. Other new NPs seek out mentors as support during their transition.

Nurse practitioners are master- or doctorate-prepared registered nurses that assess, diagnose, prescribe, treat, order some diagnostic tests, refer, and evaluate patient care. Today, NPs are known as the nation's primary care providers of choice. There are over 290,000 NPs, mostly practicing as family nurse practitioners. Yet, many patients have never experienced receiving care involving an NP. Continuous education provided by NPs at the beginning of their visits with patients is one way to introduce their role. Another way is for practices to introduce new NPs through a newsletter, including the list of services the NP can provide.

Many states require NPs to practice with a collaborative agreement. A collaborative agreement is an agreement between a physician and NP with the same specialty. A collaborative physician does not have to be on-site or actively engage in the patient's care. The challenge is that there has been an exponential growth of NPs entering the workforce in the past ten years, and there are not enough physicians to serve as a collaborative.

Each state has a limitation on the amount of NPs a physician can have an agreement with. For instance, in the state of Georgia, the ratio of one collaborative physician to NPs is 1-to-4. In addition, it is good practice to enter into agreements with physicians you already have a relationship with. Some NPs may not have physicians of the same speciality in their professional network.

Q. What advice would you give to students interested in becoming an NP?

I would advise students to start working towards becoming an NP before you start NP school. This includes shadowing or volunteering with an NP at a local practice to get a feel for what the role will feel like for you. This saves you time and tuition money. It is also important to mention that there isn't an exact formula for becoming an NP, but there are questions students must have an answer to before embarking on the journey, such as:

  • Did you do your research (whether it's interviewing an NP or reading credible resources)?
  • Did you ask the right questions before deciding on an NP specialty?
  • Is this a good time in your life to endure the rigor of a program?
  • How will you pay for NP school?
  • Do you plan to work full-time?
  • What do you plan to do in the next five years with your NP degree?

Becoming an NP was one of the best decisions I made and I hope my experience inspired you to join this rewarding profession.

Genevieve Carlton holds a Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University and earned tenure as a history professor at the University of Louisville. An award-winning historian and writer, Genevieve has published multiple scholarly articles and a book with the University of Chicago Press. She currently works as a freelance writer and consultant.

See articles by Genevieve

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