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What is Nursing Science?
Nursing Science is a degree program within nursing emphasizing the science and principles of nursing. A degree in Nursing Science or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is built on rigorous coursework to prepare students to become a knowledgeable, well-rounded nurse practitioners able to step into a variety of science, medical, research, and leadership roles. Finding success within Nursing Science requires attention to detail, problem solving skills, and strong management skills to resolve many issues that arise in a complex healthcare environment. A Nursing Science must delicately balance technical skills, organizational know-how, and academic excellence with a professional, approachable demeanor.
Associate Degree in Nursing Degree (ADN)
An Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is also known in the industry as an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or Associate of Applied Science (AAS) Degree. In either case, the associate degree track is one of the quickest entry-points into the nursing profession. An ADN program is a two-year program which includes general education courses, core nursing classes, clinical rotations, and often an internship requirement. Associate Degree in Nursing degrees are ubiquitous in community colleges, trade schools, technical colleges, career colleges, nursing schools, hospitals, and 4-year colleges.
The majority of students who earn an Associate Degree in Nursing degree from an accredited college or university will go on to earn a BSN. This route offers students the opportunity to apply for admissions to accelerated programs in order to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in two-years’ time.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree (BSN)
The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN or BScN) is also known as a Bachelor of Science (BS) with an Emphasis in Nursing or a Bachelor of Nursing (BN). The BSN is a program with a strong academic foundation and geared to help students establish a vibrant career in nursing.
A Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree will often take students 4 years to complete with the first half of the program focused on general education courses. The second half of the four-year BSN program will provide students with an array nursing theories, practices, methodologies, and principles to help them successfully take and pass the NCLEX-RN examination. The NCLEX is a standardized test administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) which is a prerequisite to earn a nursing license in the United States.
There a number of different types of bachelor degree tracks within nursing. The most popular of which are:
- Accelerated BSN – The Accelerated BSN is a program that fast-tracks students through nursing programs in 1-2 years by providing credit for general education and liberal arts classes taken prior.
- RN to BSN – The RN to BSN is a bridge program designed for Registered Nurses with a diploma or associate’s degree in nursing. Specialty programs like the RN to BSN offers the ability for working professionals to earn an advanced degree while working with flexible class schedules and online degree options.
- LPN to BSN or LVN to BSN – A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is a bachelor’s degree program allows practitioners to earn a BSN faster than the traditional bachelor’s degree track. This bridge program provides working professionals the ability to upskill and take advantage of career opportunities while working in the field.
- BSN – The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is a four-year online degree or classroom-based program. As the gold-standard for most healthcare organizations, the BSN is a prerequisite for students wanting to earn a graduate degree in nursing to perform academic and clinical research or to teach. The BSN is also requisite for various APN degree programs such as a Certified Nurse Practitioners (CNP), A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS), and Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM).
- Second Degree BSN – A Second Degree BSN was designed by higher education professionals to help support an accelerated career transition for professionals coming from outside the nursing profession. By allowing credit for previous general education courses, students can move through this degree program in one to two years.
Master of Science in Nursing Degree (MSN)
A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree is designed to help students and working professional move to the next level in nursing. Where associate degree programs in nursing and bachelor degrees in nursing are excellent to help gain entrance into the nursing field, a Master of Science in Nursing helps propel careers to the next level. Additional careers opportunities are likely to follow after the additional clinical training, skills, knowledge, and research from an MSN degree.
MSN programs will take students 1-2 years to complete which may be extended by enrolling in a joint degree program. A joint degree program provides another layer of specialty when the MSN program is coupled with an MBA, Public Health, Healthcare Administration, or similar degree tracks. MSN degrees typically come in 4 different groupings that include: 1) Direct Entry MSN, 2) RN to MSN, 3) Post-Certificate Master’s, and 4) Post Master’s Certificate.
A nurse who has earned a Master of Science in Nursing are considered Advance Practice Nurses, known in the industry at APN’s. The APN’s of today are able to provide the level of care and healthcare treatments that were reserved for medical doctors of yesteryear. Services and treatments provided by APN’s and APRN’s will most often fall into one of the following four nursing clusters:
- Certified Nurse Practitioners – Certified Nurse Practitioners (CNP) are APRN specialists that work closely with physicians, perform research, and advocate for patients. Areas of specialty may include: pediatrics, women’s health, cardiology, family care, oncology, pain management, and surgical services. A CNP can work in a small clinic, home care, hospital, physician’s office, or other similar types of medical settings.
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) – A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) and Nurse Anesthetist is an advance practice nurse that provides anesthesia to patients in a number of health care settings. Work settings for a Nurse Anesthetist can include various public & private clinics, home care, hospitals, nursing care facilities, military installations, schools, and physician’s offices. As a certified medical professional, a Nurse Anesthetist can provide a wide variety of anesthesia care from surgical applications to the infirm to healthy individuals.
- Clinical Nurse Specialists – A Clinical Nurse Specialist or CNS is a medical professional that can provide primary patient care or specialized care. Specialized care for a Clinical Nurse Specialist can include medical setting (emergency room, clinic), care type (psychiatric, pediatric), disease type (diabetes, oncology), health concentration (stress, pain), and demographic (elderly, children).
- Certified Nurse Midwife – A CNM or Certified Nurse Midwife blends the work of a midwife with a gynecologist. From family planning to assisting with births to postpartum care, a Certified Nurse Midwife is very active in the management of a woman’s health and wellbeing. A CNM will perform examinations and consultations in a medical office or in a residential setting. In most cases, a Certified Nurse Midwife will have autonomy to make a large percentage of critical care and health care decisions in conjunction with the patient or for the benefit of the patient.
Doctor of Nursing Science Degree (DNS) & Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Nursing Degree
The Doctor of Nursing Science degree program is a doctorate degree akin to a PhD in nursing that is rooted in theory and research. The DNS program is recognized by the United States Department of Education and the National Science Foundation as equal to the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Nursing. Colleges and universities have continued to make the shift from the DNS program to the now popular Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD) degree program. The Doctor of Nursing Science is commonly associated with the acronym DNS along with lesser known nomenclature for this degree such as DSN, DNSc, DScN. Acronyms notwithstanding, the Doctor of Nursing Science degree program is a terminal degree program in nursing which means no advanced degrees follow the DNS degree.
Educational Requirements in Nursing Science
In terms of educational requirements, Nursing Science degree holders will have typically studied the following courses while in college:
Skills & Abilities Required in Nursing Science
- Critical Thinking
- Complex Problem Solving
- Reading Comprehension
- Active Listening
- Oral Expression
- Oral Comprehension
- Speech Recognition
- Written Comprehension
Online Colleges Offering Degrees in Nursing Science
Employment Information & Specialization
For students that earn a college degree in Nursing Science, there are several fields of specialization that one can pursue. The options range from Department Director, Nurse Administrator, Nurse Executive, Quality Improvement Manager, Nurse Manager, Ambulatory Care Manager, Director of Nursing, Hospital CEO, or Chief Nursing Officer, dental hygienist, Registered Nurse (RN), post-secondary teacher, researcher, registered nurse, EMT, LPN, LVP, and physician assistant to name a few possible career tracks.
A Nursing Science major can qualify for a number of roles that may include: professor, Department Director, Nurse Administrator, Nurse Executive, Quality Improvement Manager, Nurse Manager, Ambulatory Care Manager, Director of Nursing, Hospital CEO, or Chief Nursing Officer.
A Nursing Science graduate can work in a variety of settings public healthcare facilities to private healthcare facilities which can include ambulatory care clinics, hospitals, acute care facilities, home healthcare agencies, pharmaceutical companies, electronic medical records facilities, and durable medical equipment facilities. As you can see, the Nursing Science profession fuses compassion, business, technology, science, and medicine into a fulfilling vocation.
Job Growth, Salary, and Related Fields
The job growth in the greater Nursing Science domain are well above average. For example, the rate of job growth for a Registered Nurse is expected to rise 16% through 2024 and Nursing Science a brisk 17% growth rate is expected during the same period. Given the nature of the Nursing Science degree, compensation after graduation can vary greatly from career field to career field given prior experience and geographic location. Related fields include teaching, research, genomics, immunology, radiobiology, neuroanatomy, pharmacology, nursing, medical science, and microbiology.
For More information about earning a Nursing Science degree, simply visit the accredited colleges and universities below or visit our online nursing resource page or career portal to learn more careers in nursing.