An Overview of Nursing Careers – What is the Honorary Level of Nursing?

words Alexa Wang

Nursing Careers

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Whether you are starting a new career in nursing or have experience of several years under your belt, knowing the hierarchy of different levels in nursing can be substantial. Knowing this can help you advance your career and help you make an informed decision about your future.

While several factors contribute towards different nursing ranks, a higher degree indicates that you are more likely to possess more knowledge and experience.

To help you decide which nursing career is most suitable for you, we have outlined the different levels and ranks associated with it.

Doctor of Nursing Practice

A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is the highest level of education and expertise you could gain within the profession. However, as the honorary level of nursing, receiving this degree requires utmost dedication and hard work. A frequent concern of prospective students, is that with an undergrad degree, how can you get a doctorate in nursing

DNP programs are available in various pathways, allowing students to select the one that suits them the best. These can either be BSN to DNP, MSN to DNP, or RN to DNP programs, all of which have a different timeframe of completion. As the healthcare sector continues to grow and become further complex, graduates of the DNP program stand at an advantage. They can serve as leaders, discover evolving technology, and bring meaningful changes to their workplaces.

A DNP degree allows you to choose from various career options, largely dependent on your skills and area of interest. In case you enjoy handling the daily operations of a hospital, you can take up the role of a healthcare executive or health service manager to strategize and coordinate all that goes on in a hospital. 

Another role for DNPs is that of the nursing faculty. With an increased number of people opting for nursing programs, there will be a higher need for faculty to train them. With a more excellent proficiency in generating and analyzing evidence-based data, you can also join the field of clinical nursing research as a DNP.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse

A healthcare professional who has usually obtained a graduate-level degree is considered an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). Often the focus of a registered nurse is to implement and follow the health policies that exist within a medical facility. Still, an APRN focuses on modifying and developing new approaches to improve patient care.

There’s an increased demand for the role of APRNs in the healthcare sector. If you’re looking to advance your career, you might want to consider pursuing a master’s or doctorate to work as an APRN. In some states, you will have more autonomy and a greater scope for independent practice, while in others, you can work in partnership with doctors to direct medical services. Job opportunities are available in several healthcare settings, including hospitals, urgent care clinics, physician’s offices, or nursing homes. Under this role, you can specialize in either of the four areas to provide relevant care to your patient: certified nurse-midwives, certified registered nurse anesthetists, clinical nurse specialists, or nurse practitioners.

After completing your master’s or doctorate program, you’ll need to pass a certification exam from an accredited organization to begin practicing as an APRN.

Licensed Practical Nurse

Sometimes referred to as licensed vocational nurses, licensed practical nurses (LPNs) are in high demand for many careers in healthcare. They typically work under registered nurses, doctors, or those who hold advanced degrees to provide medical assistance to patients. With years of experience and improved skills, LPNs can even become supervisors of other nursing assistants.

Knowledge about medical science is not the only thing that will help you in this career. Developing soft skills can also play a huge role. Critical thinking, time management, active listening and learning, speaking, and service orientation are soft skills that can largely benefit LPNs as they are primarily motivated to serve communities.

As an LPN, you have direct contact with patients. Among a list of responsibilities, you will have to check patients’ vital signs, collect samples for lab tests, administer basic care, clean and sterilize medical equipment, train families or caregivers, and assist nurses and doctors during patient exams. Your duties may vary depending on whether you choose to work in hospitals, private practices, or home healthcare services.

Certified Nursing Assistant

Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) usually work in nursing homes or health services provide home care for the patient. They’re often the main source of communication between the patient’s family members and the medical organization providing care. They usually assist patients in their everyday tasks like eating, bathing, and dressing. This requires them to be compassionate, patient, empathic, and have strong interpersonal skills so that they can help their patient recover in a calmer environment.

To become a certified nursing assistant, you’re required to complete an approved training program usually offered by vocational schools and community colleges to help train and guide you regarding medical practices. You are further required to pass a state competency exam before beginning your role as a CNA.

Registered Nurse

The baby boomer population, born between 1946 and 1964, has made a drastic impact on the demand for increased medical services. Healthcare professionals are needed now more than ever before to provide healthcare to a more significant number of people. Since life expectancy has also increased, the retiring population is likely to live longer and require healthcare workers to take care of them. A registered nurse is among the workforce who are needed to provide for the aging population.

A registered nurse is a healthcare professional who has received a degree from any nursing program and holds a nursing license. Registered nurses work in several different fields. These include critical care nurses, neonatal nurses, addiction nurses, public health nurses, occupational health nurses, and others. You can choose the area of specialization depending on your interest to help provide better care to your patients.


Medical care offers many career opportunities, but not all of them are available to everyone. In order to figure out which nursing level is right for you, you must first consider your long-term goals. Determine what interests you the most so that you can enroll in a program that is both challenging and exciting. Career growth in healthcare never stops. You can continue to climb up the professional ladder in healthcare by pursuing more advanced degrees.


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