Monday, March 28, 2011

A Clarification on Nursing Education

“But I thought you graduated nursing school?” is not an uncommon thing for me to hear lately.  If only to appease myself, I am going to explain how it is completely plausible for me, yes, to have graduated but still be a nursing student.

When I decided to go into nursing, it was a decision that (although rational and well thought-out) I did not spend much time dwelling over.  I first entertained the thought in May 2009 and was enrolled and attending nursing school in August of the same year.  I went into nursing school really blind to the actual career of nursing – I just wanted to help people.  Though the journey has been long, and is seemingly never-ending, it was the best choice I have made thus far in my academic and otherwise career.

I am a Licensed Vocational Nurse (or an LVN).  The most common licensure people think of when they think “nurse” is a Registered Nurse (RN).  Although I have come to find that people call a lot of individuals who are not, in fact, nurses “nurses” – medical assistants, CNAs (certified nursing assistants), receptionists at doctor’s offices, you name it – everyone seems to be a “nurse”.

The main difference between an LVN and an RN is the amount of supervision they are required to be under.  RNs can do much of their work independently, whereas LVNs are always to be under supervision by an RN or physician.  LVNs also receive significantly less training than RNs – 13-18 months compared to anywhere from 2-5 years.  Due to their increased training and responsibility, RNs can make upwards of 1 ½ to 2 times the salary LVNs can hope to attain.

I went to school to become (and subsequently did become) an LVN.  After reading the comparison between the LVNs and RNs, one would certainly wonder why I made that choice.  Here’s the thing – I went to LVN training school with every intention to become an RN, I just chose this route instead of going straight to school to become a Registered Nurse.  I’d like to think I took a short-cut, but that remains to be seen.

By going to school to become an LVN first, I can now work as a nurse while I take the pre-requisite courses for an RN program, and even while I continue at one of the many options of schools I have.  Also, an LVN is entitled to skip many of the courses a freshman college student must take for a Registered Nursing program.  This means that when I enroll in the program, it should take me less than a year to complete, whereas high school graduates or students completely new to the nursing field will take upwards of two years.

So yes, I am still a student even though I graduated nursing school.  And though it is at times discouraging when I ponder how long it will take me to get into an LVN-RN bridge program I deem acceptable and graduate from said program (the impaction of nursing programs is a topic I will surely discuss shortly), this does not mean I do not take pride in the fact that I AM a nurse.  I am a nurse who is also a nursing student.  The School That Won’t Be Named did not make it easy to successfully pass their classes and complete their program (at least without wanting to pull your hair out), and that is something to be proud of, whether or not I continue to further my education, and regardless of how long it takes me to achieve my ultimate goals. 

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