The Various Degrees in Healthcare

November 27th, 2012 by admin

The healthcare industry is a field that has a wide range of education levels within its workforce. Education in healthcare can range from on the job training to graduate school. Listed below are the various degrees found in healthcare and the requirements for each.

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Certification for Nursing Assistants

For those wishing to enter the healthcare field, a job as a nursing assistant is a standard point of entry. Many hospitals and facilities offer on site training for the skills required for the job and can offer certification if a competency exam is passed. Nursing assistants are in high demand and perform a variety of patient care tasks, including assisting with activities of daily living.

Certification for Medical Assistants

Medical assistants are graduates of a specialized program offered at medical training schools or private community colleges. Educational programs typically last for 12 to 18 months and certification can be obtained upon graduation from an approved course and passing a national certification exam. Medical assistants are primarily utilized in outpatient clinics and primary care offices.

Licensed Practical Nursing

A Licensed Practical Nurse, frequently called an LPN, is a graduate of a 24 to 36 month program and has obtained a license for practical nursing within the state of employment. LPNs work in conjunction with Registered Nurses and perform a wide variety of patient care tasks. LPNs can practice in a wide variety of areas, including physician offices, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, hospitals, and surgical centers.

Registered Nursing

There are three degree routes for those wishing to pursue a career as a Registered Nurse. Diploma programs are offered by hospitals and smaller colleges for those who have taken prerequisite courses and wish to learn at an accelerated rate. Diploma programs are usually completed within 24-36 months and is a way to bypass attending a major college or university. An Associate’s Degree is a two year college degree that allows those with prerequisites completed to enter a nursing program and graduate within two years. A Bachelor’s Degree is awarded upon completion of a four year nursing program at a major college or university. Regardless of the type or duration of the educational program, graduates of all three listed above are eligible to take the same National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) and receive the same Registered Nurse licensure in the state of practice. Registered Nurses have the ability to practice in all major hospitals, medical facilities, surgical centers, and private duty nursing areas. There are also opportunities outside of patient care, such as case management, clinical education, infection prevention, and legal nursing consultation.

Advanced Practice Registered Nursing

For Registered Nurses wishing to pursue higher education, the Master’s Degree program for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) is the next step in the educational ladder. A Bachelor’s degree is required for entry to the program, which lasts 24 months. APRNs have the ability to practice independently under the supervision of a physician in the particular field of practice.

Doctorate of Medicine

The highest level of education that can be obtained in the healthcare field is the Doctorate of Medicine. This program typically lasts 4 to 5 years and is an intense, fast paced educational and skill practicing curriculum. Upon graduation from these programs, which are offered through major colleges and universities, individuals can become board certified and practice medicine in virtually any type of medical setting, ranging from primary care and prevention to surgery and critical care medicine.

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