Most Important Exams For Nursing

By Scott Winy

Nursing certifications are an extension of the multi-layered path of nursing education. Basic nurse's certifications have to do with the level of college you have completed and the state certification you are assigned. LVN or LPN (Licensed Vocational Nurse or Licensed Practical Nurse) are typically a 2-year degree program. RN's can have either an Associates or a Bachelor's (BSN-RN) degree. From there a MSN (Masters of Science in Nursing) also opens doors. However, once your school is finished, there are a number of advanced certifications nurses can achieve that will help them go farther in their profession. Here are the top five.

CCRN - Critical Care Registered Nurse -This certification can be earned through classes and tests given by most major hospitals. The class takes about a semester and covers everything from recognizing drug reactions to advanced cardio care techniques. A CCRN is certified to work in telemetry, intensive care and critical care units where patients need constant monitoring and have life-threatening concerns. Salaries are often higher on those floors, and nurses see fewer patients per shift because they require almost constant care.

Science is such a broad topic that it isn't at all obvious what subjects high school students should study. Of course, a year each of biology, chemistry, and physics is traditional, but why? Why isn't Earth science, which deals with some of the most important issues of our day, such as climate, part of that core curriculum? Is it ok to substitute more specialized classes such as astronomy, botany, or forensics for the more traditional classes? Should students study only the branches of science that they most enjoy?

National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN): It is yet another important examination that is used by the Boards of Nursing to examine the entry-level nursing proficiency of candidates for licensure as Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurses. The areas measured in the exam are verbal skills, which focus on the both word knowledge and reading comprehension; Mathematics, which targets basic calculations, algebra, conversions, geometry, graphs, and Science, which tests chemistry, biology and physics.

Even though it is undoubtedly possible for students to get a great high school science education in very non-traditional ways, that strategy is risky. Some colleges, especially small liberal arts colleges, would undoubtedly look on unusual courses of study kindly, but most colleges will want to see SAT Subject Tests and AP Exams. In New York State, Regents exams may also be important. Notably, many of the schools most likely to de-emphasize standardized tests are very expensive, so unless money is not an issue, it makes a lot of sense to work hard to get some strong test scores. This is especially important for homeschoolers, who probably need to take at least 5 SAT Subject tests if they plan to apply to selective colleges. Therefore, it is necessary to include, and probably emphasize, classes that will let students shine on these tests.

OCN - Oncology Certificate in Nursing -Oncology nurses are especially trained to provide chemotherapy, radiation aftercare and work with cancer patients. This deeply rewarding certification also comes with the ability to work in a hospital, cancer treatment center or local clinic. OCN's usually have set hours and a number of prescribed duties requiring less physical strain, but practice with more compassionate care.

Each of these nursing certifications is available through the health care system of any major school or city and can add money, opportunity or challenge to the life of an RN.

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