Schedule for becoming a nurse or PA : LUSENET : ER Discussions : One Thread

I dont know if this has been asked before, but it isnt in the FAQ. In the FAQ there is a question :What's the general schedule for becoming a doctor? Well, I want to know, what's the general schedule for becoming a nurse? what are the career posibilities? Carol was head nurse, is there some other career choice? And I'm wondering the same about a PA...Does somebody know the answer to these?

-- jules (, September 14, 2000


For PAs there's information at (Jeannie Boulet's uniform says AAPA on the sleeve). It says that "The typical applicant (to a PA education program) already has a bachelor's degree and over 4 years of health care experience. Commonly nurses, EMTs, and paramedics apply to PA programs."

-- Driad (, September 14, 2000.

There's another question I want to ask people working in hospitals: Isn't it rather uncommon that a nurse as young as Carol was with probably less working experience than her older colleagues would become head nurse in real life? I have been wondering about this for quite some time now, and it just seems unrealistic to me, but I'm not really into medicine.

-- Anne (, September 14, 2000.

A possible answer... Many older nurses went through the diploma nurse program: a two-year program. (And as far as I know, at least in Wisconsin, they no longer exsist.) Therefore, the younger nurses, like Carol, would have gone to a four-year college or university and received a BSN (Bachelor's Degree in Nursing.) So, while both are RN's, Carol would have had classes in nursing management as well as Philosphy, English, etc., things they look for in a Head Nurse.


-- Cathy (, September 14, 2000.

Carol also had her Masters.

-- Frances Christine (, September 14, 2000.

Wasn't Carol 28 years old when ER first started? I know Julianna herself was 27.

-- Cammie (, September 14, 2000.

Thats another thing...what is the difference between the Bachelor Degree and the RN? A test or more classes? I was wondering if there is some sort of speciallity for them or if all depends of experience, because yesterday I saw "No Brain No Gain" and there was a nurse that couldnt find her way around the ER, and then they sent Lydia to neuro, which seems very unlikely in my opinion.

-- jules (, September 14, 2000.

An RN is a registered nurse, meaning they have passed the nursing boards for a specific state. A nurse who hasn't passed the boards yet is referred to as a graduate nurse (assuming they passed their classes.) Years ago, a person would attend a nursing school - which taught them the skils, techniques and sciences behind nursing. Also, it was a two-year, 24-month intense program. Now, with the demise of nursing schools (they've really started to die out in the past 5-10 years), and the increase in wanting a four-year degree, people are receiving their BSN's, which include the above on a less intetensive scale as well as the basic core classes required for any bachelors degree. Basically, it makes a BSN a more well-rounded individual. A diploma nurse would generally be a execllent nurse with great skills immediately after graduation, while a BSN would take a few years to "polish" their skills. However, because of their advance degree, they were more learned in skills to help them advance, thus making them a better manager than a diploma nurse. If you're into letters after a name, Carol would have been Carol Hathaway, RN, BSN, MSN, while a diploma nurse would be Jane Doe, RN. By the way, just for trivia fun, did you know that the black stripe on the old nursing caps meant the person was a registerd nurse? Otherwise, they were a student or the aforementioned graduate nurse. (or an LPN, but that's another animal.) Okay, I'll stop now... Cybercathy:)

-- Cathy (, September 14, 2000.

This is the deal - an RN is not a degree, but states that you have passed the licensing exam and aer a registered nurse. In the past, most people learned to be nurses through 3 year hospital based diplomat programs. Now it has switched to 2 year college based ASN (associate of nursing) or 4 year BSN (bachelor of science in nursing) which prepare you to take the NCLEX - the national boards. The BSN program may teach more advanced clinical skills and will include more liberal arts and support sciences.

When a nurse begins in a unit where she has no experience, she gets a several week orientation where they learn the procedures and policy of the floor. Therefore a nurse from OB would be totally lost in an ER if s/he didn't have experience there. But after an orientation, the nurse should be fine on a new unit. Also, most nurse who go into management or advanced practice or critical, usually have masters degrees in nursing.

-- Chava (, September 14, 2000.

Long answer:

You can become an RN with either a bachelor's or an associate degree, and some schools are now making it a 5-year bachelor's program. The ones with the bachelor's make more money and can move faster up the career ladder. Also, (my mother is an RN and she answered this for me) if you are good at your job, work full time, and are career- oriented, you can become a head nurse within 3-5 years of graduation; not everyone is on that kind of career path so some older nurses never head in that direction, while some younger nurses do.

Also, a master's degree will move the career further and faster.

There are also LPNs (Licensed Practical Nurse), who have 1-2 years of school, and can perform many but not all of the functions of an RN. Of course, they make less money and have little chance for advancement.

CNAs (Certified Nurse Assistants) take from 6 weeks to 8 or 9 months of training.

One thing that makes it complicated is that there are many different programs that lead to these certifications, that vary in the amount of school time vs. clinical practice, and the length of the program. One local school has a 5-year nursing program, but the nurses there say they get less clinical practice because the hospital it's attached to also has a medical school, and the med students get first dibs at all the procedures.

Finally, Physician Assistants and Nurse Practioners are somewhat similar in that they have more expanded job functions, more authority and less supervision than nurses, make more money, and have more schooling. The difference is that PAs are more often medics who want to further their career, but a nurse who is interested in furthering her career is more likely to become a Nurse Practioner (like Lynette from Carol's clinic).

-- Bonny (, September 14, 2000.

Thank you all, that was very detailed and helped me a lot!

-- Anne (, September 15, 2000.

Thanks to everybody for your answers! =)

-- jules (, September 15, 2000.

I am an LPN, and if you are serious about a health career, I urge you to get your LPN and work in the nursing field, referably a hospital to be sure you like the work before spendinf the time and money for further schooling, especially for yoooooour BSN or MSN. And it isn't always true that people with those letters beside their name make more money if they are really working an actual nursing job. Usually, those initials qualify you to hold some office job, and you seldom do real on hands nursing,

-- Gina (Llanerwl@, July 22, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ