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A Guide to the Most Popular Nursing School Tracks

Nursing programs provide nursing students with the chance to choose different tracks or areas of study in nursing occupations. All the nursing schools usually offer nursing students a series of tracks within the nursing profession. This is designed in this way so that nursing students have a broader choice of study programs and coursework that most suits their personal situation as well as other factors like educational achievements and prior (if any) work experience. Different tracks allow people of different competency backgrounds and levels to still achieve their dreams of becoming a nurse, just at various speeds and over longer or shorter periods of time. Other nursing tracks exist so that people who are already nurses, like LPNs, can take additional courses to become RNs. There are a variety of nursing tracks that students can choose from in order to further their careers.

Adult Care Nurse Practitioner

The track of adult care nurse practitioner is a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree that trains nurse graduates in advanced practice nursing to administer patient management in a host of critical and acute care settings. It is a doctorate level degree. People who enter this nursing track can do the coursework primarily from online nursing programs in their home, but at times, there will be instances when they will have to travel to the university providing the program for the purpose of evaluation, examinations and clinical learning experiences. This coursework is primarily for people who have completed a Master’s Degree in nursing and want further career mobility. The skill set for this nursing track is care and patience, as much of the job deals with working with and stabilizing critically ill patients.

Nurse Midwifery

Nurse midwifery is a nursing track that focuses on nurse jobs that look after the wellness of childbirth needs of both an individual as well as the family. This nursing track is available in both Master of Science in Nursing and the Postmaster degree of the Doctor of Nursing Practice. The skills required for this nursing track are social and emotional support, physical care, and interaction with others based on the patients preferences and cultural values. Nursing education in this track requires a previous degree in nursing, either an Associate’s Degree or even Master-level work. The average income for a nurse holding this degree is very high, with the average median salary for this track being more than $91,000.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

The neonatal nurse practitioner track is a nursing track that is made for nurses who already have a Bachelor’s Degree and who want to attain a Master of Science in Nursing. This nursing track focuses on managing a huge load of neonatal patients through medical supervision, collaboration and consultation. A nurse with this degree, unlike a nurse with a degree from an LPN program and an RN program can work in a number of settings, from newborn facilities and Level I nurseries to neonatal intensive care nurseries to follow-up clinics and private practice. The skills that a neonatal nurse practitioner needs are skills related to a working knowledge of physiology, pharmacology and pathophysiology as he or she makes independent decisions related to diagnosis and assessment of infants. The average income of a neonatal nurse practitioner in the U.S. is about $90,000 per year.

Traditional Nursing Track

The traditional nursing track is an area of study that students who don’t have very much prior nursing experience can take to get their Associate’s Degree in Nursing. This area of study focuses on the basics of nursing and is geared to get people started in their chosen career of nursing. Some examples of coursework for this track include holistic assessment, communication, therapeutic nursing interventions, and management and leadership issues. Required skill sets include patience, good communication and basic bedside manner skills. Prerequisites for this track are a high school diploma, and after nursing students get their Associate’s Degree, they are eligible to take a state test for licensure.

LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse)

LPN stands for licensed practical nurse, which is a type of nurse who cares for sick patients at the direction of a registered nurse or of a doctor. This nursing track, which can be learned through online LPN programs teaches students about becoming one of the most basic types of nurse who provides the most fundamental though important services to patients. Much of the time, an LPN will devote a considerable amount of time to recording his or her patients’ vital signs such as weight, height, respiratory rate, pulse rate, blood pressure and even temperature. As an LPN, a person can work in a myriad of settings that include doctor’s offices, home care environments and nursing homes. The income for an LPN depends on the environment of work, with LPNs who work in places like nursing care facilities typically making more money than LPNs who work in doctor’s offices.

The beauty with choosing a nursing career as one’s profession is the wealth of choices that a person has with regards to deciding what career path to take. To prepare a person who wants to be a nurse for these different career paths within nursing, many universities and institutions provides various tracks or areas of studies within nursing. The benefit for budding nurses is that they are able to have a greater degree of control over where their nursing career goes. For instance, persons who are content with only performing basic nursing duties and earning a middle class income should be happy with the LPN nursing track, while those already established nurses who want to make more money and take on more responsibility as well as leadership can go back to school to become Master’s Degree-holding nurses like RNs, neonatal practitioners or midwives.

To learn more about various nursing tracks, see these links.