The Most Common Career Paths for Nurses

Updated on April 13, 2021
The Most Common Career Paths for Nurses

Many people who study medicine want to become nurses. Nurses are medical professionals who carry out many essential medical tasks and interact with the patient day in and day out. Every nurse has the opportunity to specialize and focus their education in a particular direction. Here are the most common career paths for nurses.

Registered Nurse

Most nurses you see and interact with are registered nurses, or RNs. Medical professionals consider RNs as the golden standard of nurses. Bachelor’s and Associate’s degrees in nursing, accompanied with a passing score on the licensing exam, is the way to this role. Hospitals, doctor’s offices, home health services, outpatient clinics, schools—registered nurses work in all kinds of places.

Licensed Practical Nurse

Despite being a step below the RN, a licensed practical nurse operates much the same way. They administer treatments, complete medical tasks, and implement patient care. However, there are some restrictions to the kinds of medication they can handle. You can become an LPN through a Bachelor’s or Associate’s degree, or you can take an LPN degree program and finish faster. LPN certification is one of the fastest ways into the nursing profession.

Nurse Anesthetist

Certified registered nurse anesthetists are the people who provide patients with anesthesia while prepping for surgery. CRNAs also follow patients in the operating room and monitor their anesthetic throughout. This job is critical to the patient’s comfort and the success of the surgery, so CRNAs have one of the highest salaries in the nursing profession. Since they work with such delicate substances, CRNAs need more training and an LPN or RN. Once you find a job as a nurse anesthetist, you can grow your medical career and specialize even further.

If one of the most common career paths for nurses appeals to you, follow that inkling and look for local programs. With the right mix of education, hands-on training, and licensing, you can become a nurse in just over a year.