So you want to become a nurse.

There are so many different paths of nursing you can choose from. From oncology to being an ER nurse, you have a lot of choices to choose from. If that’s not already overwhelming, you also have to decide which nurse do you want to be and how it benefits you.

Should you be a Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)? What’s the difference between the two? Let’s break it down and see the pros and cons.

What is a Licensed Practical Nurse?

It can take 1-2 years to become a LPN. Those with the LPN degree have the opportunity to move up and obtain a RN degree. It’s extremely cost effective, especially if you choose a hospital or company that provide tuition reimbursement. Remember that getting accepted into the RN program after obtaining your LPN license means maintaining the required GPA (i.e. 3.0 or higher in some program’s cases).

One of the advantages of going down this route is that you can use your field experience to have a better understanding of your studies and have a higher chance of getting hired over your classmates without any previous experience.

The LPN reports to the RN for any changes in the patient’s condition. He/she cannot delegate, evaluate, provide initial teaching, or assess the patient.

What is a Registered Nurse?

It can take 2-4 years to become a RN. The average program students opt to take is the 4 years program.

Registered nurses are required to have more responsibilities (i.e. critical thinking). He/she will be expected to delegate to the team, provide care plans with the interdisciplinary team, assessment, evaluation, and patient teaching.

Now, it gets even more confusing!

If you decide to become a Registered Nurse, you need to decide if you want to get an Associates Degree in Nursing or Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The primary difference between the two programs are how long it takes to complete and the salary.

Both programs will still offer the same curriculum which includes, but not are limited to, Maternity and Newborn, Pediatrics, Fundamentals of Nursing, Psychiatric, and Community Health. The BSN program will require more courses to be completed prior to graduation (i.e. Nursing Research).

Why should I choose the ADN Program?

The average time of completing the ADN program is 2 years and is more cost effective. When you get hired, you can still continue your education and find a hospital or company that provides tuition reimbursement. You can still complete a BSN program without hurting your pocket.

With the amount of student loans that is drowning graduates, this route is becoming the popular option.

The disadvantage of getting your ADN is that employers are more likely to hire someone with a BSN.

Why should I choose the BSN Program?

The average length of time to complete the BSN program is 4 years.

An advantage is the opportunities to climb up the ladder! Someone with a BSN can become a nurse manager or coordinator. With a BSN, you can get certifications or get an advanced degree, such as a Nurse Practitioner.

If you already have a degree, you can opt for the accelerated program and complete it in 18-21 months. You don’t have to feel as if you’re starting all over again and wasting another four years of your life.

ADN vs BSN vs LPN

You still have to take the NCLEX exam no matter what choice you go with. If you complete the LPN program, you will take the NCLEX-PN examination, National Council Licensure Examination for Licensed Practical Nurses.

If you complete the ADN or BSN program, you will take the NCLEX-RN examination, National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. For those with an ADN degree and completing the BSN program, you will be happy to hear that you do not need to retake the NCLEX.