The future is bright for those in healthcare professions, particularly those who choose to pursue nursing as their career. In Louisiana, as in most states, demand for nurses is on the rise. In addition, the compensation is also rising for those who choose to work in Louisiana hospitals, outpatient care centers and skilled nursing facilities. According to The News Star, placement rates for graduates of Louisiana nursing schools are excellent. Those who want to enter this promising field can look to online nursing schools in Louisiana to get started on the road to success.
Online Nursing Degree Programs in Louisiana
A student can take many varied paths to becoming a nurse. Those who want to become licensed practical or licensed vocational nurses can start their journey with an approved education program, usually offered through community colleges or vocational schools. These programs are typically one year, including classroom training and hands-on clinical work. Once the education is complete, LPNs and LVNs then work under the supervision of registered nurses.
Registered nursing has become a very popular option for those who want to enter the health care field, as this higher-level credential offers much higher pay and room for advancement. Students currently have three options to become a registered nurse:
- earn a diploma from an approved nursing program
- earn an associate degree in nursing
- earn a bachelor's degree in nursing
The nursing program option is gradually being phased out across the nation; in fact, only one is available in Louisiana, through the Baton Rouge General Medical Center. Most RN students opt for the associate degree, which takes two years to complete, or the bachelor's degree, which takes four years. Bridge programs, such as the RN to BSN, allow students who are already working as registered nurses to pursue their bachelor's degree. The Louisiana State Board of Nursing (LSBN) currently approves 12 schools to provide associate nursing programs and 13 schools to provide bachelor's nursing programs in the state.
Students who want to work as advanced practice nurses or clinical specialists, or find better opportunities for advancement in the field can opt for the master's degree. Some might choose to take their education even further and obtain their PhD or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Twelve institutions in Louisiana are currently approved by the LSBN to provide graduate degree programs in various nursing specialties.
Though some of these programs are offered in a traditional format, many of them can be taken as online programs or a hybrid educational experience. The associate and bachelor's degree programs often allow some courses to be taken online, while those with a clinical component must be completed in person. Programs on the master's and doctoral level might be entirely online, allowing students to continue their full-time work while pursuing higher education.
Upon completing the proper education, nurses in Louisiana must be licensed and registered. Detailed instructions for this, as well as further rules for practice, can be found through the Louisiana State Board of Nursing.
Nursing Career Outlook in Louisiana
Nurses across the nation can expect excellent job growth in the years to come. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, LPNs and LVNs will see job growth of 25 percent nationwide, RNs will see growth of 19 percent, and advanced practice nurses (APRNs) will enjoy a robust 31 percent employment growth from 2012 to 2022.
The numbers in Louisiana are impressive as well. The following chart shows growth and career data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Projections Central:
|Occupation||Total Employment in Louisiana (2014)||Average Salary in Louisiana (2014)||% Growth in Louisiana (2012-2022)|
|Licensed Practical Nurse||21,450||$37,810||19.3%|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014, and Projections Central
Exceptional job growth is not the only reason to move into nursing -- the salary is also quite nice in most areas. It is important to remember that the jobs with higher salary figures tend to require more education.
Nurses who want to target their career toward one particular area of the health care field, or those who want to increase their potential in the eyes of employers can benefit from earning certifications. Certifications are a way to prove a nurse's knowledge, skills and experience in a particular area. Many nurses choose to earn certifications through the American Nurse Credentialing Center. Here are just a few examples of the specialty certifications available:
- Ambulatory care nursing
- Hemostasis nursing
- Forensic nursing - advanced
- Medical-surgical nursing
- Pain management nursing
- Psychiatric-mental health nursing
- Faith community nursing
- Nursing case management
Some credentials might be more advantageous than others, depending upon where a nurse chooses to work. For example, employment is particularly robust in Louisiana nursing homes, where RN staffing has increased by 75 percent, greater than the national increase of 44 percent, according to The Acadiana Advocate -- therefore, a certification in geriatrics or home health care might come in handy. Outpatient care centers are also expanding rapidly; depending upon the specialty of a particular center, a nurse could choose certifications that suit the employment opportunities.
In addition to earning a nursing degree, students can choose from the wide variety of related occupations that make good use of their experience and knowledge. Possibilities for careers related to nursing include that of EMT/paramedic, physician assistant, medical assistant, x-ray technician, respiratory therapist, and many more.
ANCC Certification Center, American Nurses Credentialing Center, http://www.nursecredentialing.org/certification.aspx
"Demand, salaries on the rise for registered nurses," The News Star, April 18, 2015, Greg Hilburn, http://www.thenewsstar.com/story/news/local/2015/04/18/demand-salaries-rise-registered-nurses/26008975/
"Letter: Louisiana Nursing Home Association director says facilities make 'special effort' to change, provide quality care," The Acadiana Advocate, May 1, 2015, http://theadvocate.com/news/acadiana/12218686-123/letter-louisiana-nursing-home-association
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
LSBN Approved Nursing Education Programs, Louisiana State Board of Nursing, http://www.lsbn.state.la.us/Portals/1/Documents/Forms/Schools.pdf
Member Program Directory: Louisiana, American Association of Colleges of Nursing, https://www.aacn.nche.edu/students/nursing-program-search
Louisiana Long-Term Projections, 2012 to 2022, Projections Central, https://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
Rules and Regulations, Louisiana State Board of Nursing, http://www.lsbn.state.la.us/Portals/1/Documents/rules/fullrules.pdf
State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Louisiana, May 2014, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_la.htm