How To Become A Nurse In Delaware

If you are looking for a stable career that is not going to be phased out, working in the medical field is a good choice. While most people do not have the time or finances to become a doctor, becoming a nurse can be done in as little as a year. Nursing also allows you to work on whichever level you choose based on the amount of education you attain. You can do the minimum and work as an LPN or Licensed Practical Nurse or go further and attain your associate’s or bachelor’s degree and work as an RN or Registered Nurse. You can attain your associate’s degree in approximately two years or your bachelor’s in four. Whichever level you decide on you are looking at the ability to have a long-term career that in most cases, pays well above average. As with any career, the higher your degree the better wages you will earn. If you have limited finances and time, becoming an LPN can be a way to get your foot in the door, and depending where you get a job, they may even offer tuition assistance programs that will allow you to return to school to attain a higher degree with financial assistance. If you have never worked in the medical field, becoming an LPN is a good first step to get an idea of what working in the medical field is like. If for some reason being a nurse is not for you, you can take your education and move to other positions that do not involve patient care such as a medical secretary. If you are currently an LPN or work in another area of the medical field, starting with your associate’s degree is your best choice. This allows you to work in a higher level of nursing without having to devote four-years to school and accrue four years of student loans. If you want to continue to your bachelor’s degree, you can find an employer that offers tuition assistance.

No matter what level of nursing you choose or school you plan to attend, you must make sure that the school is accredited by the Delaware Board of Nursing. Only schools that have a curriculum that will educate you to pass your state licensing exam will be accredited. Depending what you graduate as, you will take the NCLEX-PN or National Council Licensure Exam for Practical Nurses or the NCLEX-RN for Registered Nurses. The following will give you an idea of the difference between being an LPN or RN and what is required to become one or the other.

LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse)

Attending school to become an LPN is a great choice for someone that has never worked in the medical field or has limited funds to attend school. You can become an LPN in 12 to 18 months, and the training is usually offered by community colleges, vocational schools or technical schools, which are far less expensive than a four-year college or university. LPN training is also less intense and if you need to work and go to school, it is much easier when studying to be an LPN. While you may be put on a waiting list to enter the actual nursing classes, you can still take all your other required courses while you wait. With the affordability and flexibility of community colleges, it is a popular choice for those wanting to be LPNs. The popularity however can lead to more people applying than there are spaces in each nursing class. You want to make sure that you keep your GPA at the required level to enter the nursing program, as those with higher GPAs will be accepted before those with marginal grades. No matter where you attend, you again want to make sure that the course is accredited by the Delaware Board of Nursing to ensure that you will learn what you need to obtain your state license by passing the NCLEX-PN. The exam has four sections and all sections must be passed at a certain percentage to successfully pass the exam as a whole and qualify for your LPN license.

While being an LPN only allows you to provide limited patient care, it is still a good way to get a feel for what being a nurse is like. You still work the same type of shifts as RNs but you will just be responsible for basic patient care. The amount of care you are legally allowed to provide is called the scope of practice. You will be informed in writing exactly what your scope of practice allows and the consequences for going outside of them. As a regular LPN, you will not be legally allowed to pass medications or start IV (Intravenous) lines and provide IV therapy. You can, however, attend training for these specific duties, which if successfully completed, will allow you to pass medications, start IVs, and provide limited IV therapy. Depending on where you gain employment as an LPN, the facility may provide some financial assistance for this type of training or you may have to pay for it yourself. No tasks performed as an LPN require nursing judgment, as any tasks that require decisions or actions to be taken are out of the scope of practice for an LPN.

RN (Registered Nurse)

If you are an LPN or currently work in the medical field providing some type of patient care, you are well aware of what being a nurse requires. In this case you will probably just want to apply to a four year college or university that offers both associate and bachelor degrees in nursing. This allows you to be able to return to the same college if you at first only get your associate’s degree. If you want to work in a specialized area of nursing or in nursing management, you would then want to complete school up to your bachelor’s degree. If you are unsure if you want to work in a specialty or in management, you can obtain your associate’s degree, work in the field, and then if you decide later on a specialty or you want to work in management, you can then return to school for your bachelor’s degree. Larger facilities also offer tuition assistance so you can receive assistance towards your bachelor’s degree. If you are certain you want to attain your bachelor’s degree and have exceptional grades, you can also look for hospitals that have nursing schools. Hospital nursing schools are usually very critical about grades and require much higher standards than those of a regular college or university. The classes are also small so there is usually quite a lengthy waiting list. The benefit is that you will be trained in the hospital environment and are usually guaranteed employment once you successfully graduate.

No matter what capacity of RN you decide on, you will have a much larger scope of practice than an LPN. You will be responsible for assessing patients, making professional judgments on their condition and care as well as be part of the team that devises care plans for patients. Depending on what type of facility you work in, you will more than likely be responsible for supervising LPNs that work in your area or department also.

Becoming an RN – Associate’s versus Bachelor’s degrees

While the decision to attain your associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree will more than likely be based on finances and personal decision, you should strive for whichever degree you are comfortable with. If you want to work in general nursing you can attain your associate’s degree, which will allow you to work in almost any hospital department. This can help you to decide if you want to work in a specialty nursing field such as Pediatrics or Oncology or work in management. If you decide you want to further your career, you can return to school when you are ready and gain the next level degree. If you have already chosen a specialty or know that you want to work in management, you should apply to obtain your bachelor’s degree. Keep in mind before you commit to four years of school, most facilities provide tuition assistance to go from an associate’s degree to a bachelor’s degree, which can help you financially.

Continuing Education (CE) credits are mandatory for every level of nursing. This means that every year you must attain a set number of hours of classes that update you on nursing procedures, rules or any other medical topic. You must acquire these to successfully renew your nursing license every two years. Large facilities usually offer the opportunity to get these credits on site. If you do not work a shift that you can attend the classes or they do not offer them, they are available online and can be completed for credits as well.

Nursing Schools in Delaware

While the LPN program is offered at a majority of technical schools, vocational schools and community colleges in Delaware, the following schools are based on those attending for an RN degree of any level.

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Nursing School Locations

University of Delaware
McDowell Hall
Newark, DE 19716
Phone: (302) 831-8386

Wesley College
120 N. State Street
Dover, DE 19901
Phone: (302) 736-2512

Wilmington University
320 N. DuPont Highway
New Castle, DE 19720-6491
Phone: (302) 356-4636

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