So if you've ever seen a nurse who's been a
nurse for like five plus years right out
their name, you probably saw an alphabet
soup that followed their actual name,
health care. Nurses, especially.
We love, we love our letters.
And one day, you, too, will have a string, a
whole nice line of letters after your
name that will apparently just bring you
Today, we will aim to understand them.
The letters behind nursing titles, they are
going to tell you what degree the
individual holds the license and the
Let's look real quickly at the differences
We won't be looking at how to actually
organize those letters today.
But when you're ready, there is a lesson at
the end of this course that goes over all of
that as you prepare to launch into your
For now, let's just focus on understanding
what things are.
Simplest first: licenses.
In order to work as a nurse, you must
graduate from an accredited nursing
program and pass a licensing test.
If you plan to become an LPN, you have to
take the NCLEX-PN and if you want to become a
registered nurse, you have to take the
And once you pass your exam, you finish
school and you jump through all the other
hoops that the state that you live in wants
you to jump through, you will apply for
licensure in your state and you will then
become a licensed LPN or RN.
So your certification specifies your role,
especially what type
of nurse that you actually are.
You cannot have a license if you did not
graduate from a nursing program, but
graduating does not make you licensed.
Does that make sense? Let's look at what
your degree actually does.
An academic degree.
Those are what are awarded to you from a
college or university for completing your
nursing program, if applicable.
There are a ton of different degrees.
You can go and get in nursing an associate's
degree, a bachelor's degree, a
master's degree, or a doctorate.
And almost all registered nursing programs
will have some sort of
degree associated with it, except for the
diploma RN programs.
And don't worry, we'll kind of cover the
differences between all of those as we move
through this section.
But if you are pursuing an LPN, it's likely
that the program is a
certificate program and often does not come
with a formal degree associated with
it. And a few programs do offer an associate
Sciences degree for their LPN program, but
that's not super common.
If you do want to obtain an official degree
doing the LPN
route, you can do a bridge program later
that uses your LPN course credits and
adds on additional credits to take you from
LPN to RN, awarding you an
associate's degree in the process.
This process of LPN to RN can also result in
a BSN program.
So, what are some common examples of
If you attend a community college or a
technical school, it is likely that you will
receive an associate's degree in nursing,
your ADN, as we'll probably call it going
forward. If you attend a four-year
university for a nursing degree, it will
likely be a Bachelor of Science in Nursing
or a BSN, and those looking for a
graduate degree can get a Masters of Science
in Nursing or a Doctoral Nursing degree.
We have a whole chapter on advanced nursing
degrees, so, if that
interests you, you can go take a look at
But for now, let's just kind of get a good
summary of what we have going on.
There are a ton of different degree entry
points for nursing, which is really
confusing, but also it's super-duper helpful
because it makes nursing much more
accessible. And if you're confused, that's
They designed it to be that way.
Most of us still are.
Just know whatever degree you would like to
hold, nursing has one of those, and you can
get it. You can really get any of them with
enough time and money.
And lastly, I want to take a look at
This is usually one of two things.
As we discussed, nurses who graduate from an
LPN program are typically awarded a
certification in lieu of a degree title.
However, most commonly, certification is a
certification awarded to nurses who have
been in practice for a few years and
would like to become more knowledgeable in
their particular specialty because we had to
name them the same thing, of course.
Both RNs and LPNs can attain certification,
although there are
specific, kind of specific to the license
the nurse has.
So you can't take an RN certification exam
if you are an LPN and
vice versa. Now that's kind of a mess of
So let's look at how this works out in real
We can use me as an example.
I spent many a year working in pediatrics as
a nurse, and after a certain number of those
hours, I was eligible to sit for my
Certified Pediatric Nurse Exam,
which would tell everyone who looked at my
resume that I have extra special knowledge in
pediatrics. They have these specialized
certifications for almost
every nursing specialty and are a really
cool way to learn more about your particular
field of interest once you're working and to
show employers that you're good at this.
Certifications like this exist for those
with advanced nursing degrees as well.
For example, I'm a nurse practitioner and we
have to pick a specialty certification.
Mine is family nurse practitioner.
So certifications in general are just
usually a way to show that you are very smart
in your one certain area of nursing or, if
you are an LPN, they
both denote that you graduated from an LPN
program and can also show that you have
additional expert knowledge in a particular
specialty as an LPN.
So that was kind of a hot mess, but
hopefully that cleared up some of the
confusion surrounding the language that is
often thrown around in
Now we'll take a minute to discuss the two
primary types of
nursing licenses, at least in the United
States, in the next section.
We'll see you there.