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Becoming a Nurse Share This OHSU Content

With a growing need for health care professionals, nurses are currently in high demand.  The current need for registered nurses is only expected to increase as the world's population grows and ages.  With the modern advances in technology and recently added opportunities for specialization, the nursing profession can provide you with a wide variety of exciting options.

A career in nursing allows an individual to combine his or her abilities to problem solve, provide attention to details, give personal care, and develop medical knowledge, to create a holistic approach to caring for an individual.  Nurses take into account both the physical and psychological state of the patient as well as social elements when treating each individual.

Variety in Work

Registered nurses (RNs) perform a variety of tasks to assist with patient care.  RNs are responsible for treating patients and helping to provide education and support for family members and the public.  RNs also record medical histories and help diagnose and treat patients. They regularly advise and assist patients through the completion of their treatments, including follow-up and out-patient care.

Range of Opportunities

Nursing offers a range of opportunities from staff nursing in hospitals and clinics, to independent practices, and research positions. Beyond the hospitals, nurses can be found working in schools, rehab centers, mental health centers, private homes and with international groups.

Read more about the future of nursing in Oregon

Pathways into Nursing

There are several levels of nursing as well as entry points into the field. What level of education you will need will depend on your personal and professional goals.

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA): assists licensed nurses with in-patient care and daily living tasks typically in a hospital, nursing home or assisted living facility. Training can typically be completed in 6-12 weeks at a community college, hospital or assisted living facility. Must pass CNA exam to be licensed.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN): assists nurses and physicians in generalists setting such as a hospital. More advanced clinical responsibilities including drug administration and IVs. Training can be completed in one year at a community college or hospital. Must pass the NCLEX-PN exam to be licensed.

Associates Degree Registered Nurse (ADRN): generally works in a hospital in direct patient care positions. RNs are responsible for monitoring patients and supervising CNAs and LPNs. Training can be completed in two years at a community college. Must pass NCLEX-RN exam to be licensed.

Bachelors Degree Registered Nurse (BSRN): same license as an ADRN however the BSRN can work in a wider variety of settings including community health and management. Training can be completed in four years at a university. Must pass NCLEX-RN exam to be licensed.

Advanced Practice Nurse (APN): independent practitioner often with prescriptive privileges. Can work in hospitals, clinics, or in private practice. Specialties include, but are not limited to, midwifery, family practice, psychiatric care, or anesthesia. Training can be completed in two years after completion of a BSRN at a university. Advanced licensure requirements will vary by specialty.