Different Types of Nurses and Their Descriptions

With a career in nursing, you will never have to look very far for a job. Most nurses start their careers as a licensed practical nurse (LPN), continuing to become a registered nurse (RN). Nursing offers a wide variety of opportunities including working in hospitals, home health services, clinics and schools. You may focus your nursing in any number of medical specialties. A few nursing specializations are pediatric, forensic, surgical and labor and delivery.

Licensed Practical Nurse

Obtaining certification as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) is the first step in a nursing career. You can begin a career as a licensed practical nurse with an associate's degree after obtaining and LPN certification. You will be involved in hands on patient care as an LPN and do such things as monitoring blood pressure, administering medications, bathing patients and updating patient's medical charts. Part of the job involves giving much needed emotional support to patients and their families. You will be the health care professional the patient is most familiar with during hospitalization. The patient will see you more than he will see any other health care professional on the medical team.

Registered Nurse

Most registered nurses have a bachelor's degree in nursing, the Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN) degree. While it is possible to begin your career as a registered nurse with an associate's degree and RN certification, to enhance your opportunities for advancement, you should obtain a nursing degree. As a registered nurse, you work more closely with the physician on developing a treatment plan for the patient than any other health care member of the medical team. You will help educate and offer guidance to patients about preventive health care measures. Patients will look to you for advice concerning how they may effectively treat any illness they are diagnosed as having.

Some registered nurses go on to receive advanced nursing degrees and become advanced-practice nurses. You can obtain a masters 'or doctorate degree in nursing. With an advanced nursing degree, you can expect to find job openings in research, administration or teaching.


A logical transition for a licensed practical nurse is to obtain the registered nurse certification. Regardless of work history and experience, the best job opportunities in nursing will go to candidates with a BSN degree and RN certification. If you chose to continue with your education after obtaining LPN certification, most if not all of your coursework will transfer to the bachelor nursing degree program. Many universities offer specialized "LPN to RN" programs.