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Nursing is a sector of the healthcare field focused on the care of individuals and/or communities. There are many different types of nurses, and most can be distinguished by their level of education, which can be certificates, diplomas, baccalaureates, and masters. Nurses often choose specialties, the same way doctors do, and may also have the authority to prescribe medications depending upon education and state regulations.

CNAs, or Certified Nursing Assistants, typically work in long-term care and they are often the day-to-day assistants for patients. From a state-approved education program, becoming a nursing assistant can take anywhere between three to eight weeks. CNAs bathe patients, help them use the facilities, eat, and dress. They take vitals, as well as move patients from beds to wheelchairs.

The average salary for a CNA is around $26,500.

Licensed Practical Nurses, or LPNs, typically hold either a certificate or Associate of Applied Science (AAS). Most commonly, they work in long-term care, though occasionally they’ll work in hospitals or doctor’s offices. Primarily, LPNs will take vitals and speak with patients, reporting to an RN. Depending upon state regulations, LPNs may or may not be able to hook up an IV. To officially become an LPN, passing the NCLEX-PN exam is required.

LPNs make around $42,000 per year.

Registered Nurses, RNs, typically have a baccalaureate degree (though some states allow for an Associate’s degree) and have passed the NCLEX-RN. The majority of RN nurses work in hospitals and take on more responsibilities than an LPN, including assessing patient conditions, assisting in diagnosing patients, set up plans for patient care, and educate patients and families about care once at home, plus much more. RNs can work in specialities, including in critical care, genetics, neonatal, public health, and rehabilitation.

Salaries for RNs can vary based on specialty, but clocks in around $62,000 per year.

An Advanced Practice Nurse (APN), sometimes referred to as a Nurse Practitioner, is likely to be the most educated form of nurse. On top of having a baccalaureate, NPs will have a master’s degree with a specialization. They work under the guidance of a physician, but have more autonomy than RNs. They can diagnose, treat, prescribe, and run medical tests independently.

Advanced Practice Nurses have an average salary of $90,000 per year.

Career options for nurses are heavily dependent on education level, as well as the accreditation of the institution.

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