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The Hierarchy of Nurses
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The Hierarchy of Nurses

Whether you want to be a nurse or an APRN with years of experience, it’s critical to understand the nurse levels and hierarchy to know what options you have in your career. The higher a nurse’s degree level, the more education, and experience they have received.  

There are numerous positions available between beginning as a novice nurse and reaching the highest levels of nursing. Continue reading to learn about the different nursing ranks and levels (hierarchy of nurses).   


The state licenses LPNs to work as nurses. Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) are educated to work in many different settings, including hospitals, long-term care facilities and outpatient clinics. They can also provide nursing care within various practice settings such as home health care, community settings, school health programs and correctional institutions.  

While LPNs are not educated to work in all settings, they have been trained to perform specific skills that will help them give high-quality patient care. These include taking vital signs such as blood pressure and temperature; assessing the patient’s condition; providing basic wound care services; preparing equipment for procedures like taking blood samples; administering medication; bathing patients who need assistance with personal hygiene activities such as hair brushing or shaving facial hair (if applicable); dressing wounds using sterile bandages; inserting catheters into veins for intravenous (IV) therapies or collecting urine specimens from patients who are unable to get out of bed for urinalysis testing purposes.  


RN is an abbreviation for “Registered Nurse.” These nurses are the largest group of nursing professionals and are most likely to be promoted to management positions. The RN also tends to be more educated than other groups of nurses, so they have a higher salary and a greater likelihood of being promoted.  


BSN stands for Bachelor of Science in Nursing. It is the minimum requirement for entry-level positions in nursing and is a four-year degree. While some states will allow you to work as an RN with an associate degree, you must earn a BSN if you want to advance your career and become an advanced practice nurse or nurse practitioner.  


An MSN is a master’s degree. It is typically earned after earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing, and it can take anywhere from one to four years to complete depending on the program you choose. The MSN gives you more training in clinical practice, leadership and management skills, research methods and data analysis, health policy evaluation and advocacy strategies.  

An advanced degree makes you eligible for higher positions in your field of study (such as nurse practitioner or nurse educator). An advanced level of education may also help prepare you for further studies like doctoral programs later on.  


DNP stands for “Doctor of Nursing Practice.” It is a terminal degree, meaning it is the highest degree you can obtain in nursing. The DNP is a professional doctorate requiring graduate-level education and clinical experience. The DNP differs from other educational degrees in that it focuses on clinical practice rather than theory or research.  

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program takes two years to complete after earning your master’s degree in nursing – so if you decide to enroll in an entry-level graduate program, your total study time would be four years instead of three. However, many schools offer accelerated programs where students can earn their bachelor’s and master’s degrees within five years by taking summer classes or completing coursework during breaks between semesters or quarters.  


There is no right or wrong decision when deciding on becoming a nurse. Still, if you want to make more money and have more flexibility and autonomy in your profession, you will want to consider getting an advanced degree. The nursing profession is growing faster than any other profession in the United States, so there are plenty of opportunities available for those willing to work hard.  

The hierarchy of nurses is essential because it helps people understand what level they need to be at if they want certain job responsibilities or pay scales. 

We hope you enjoyed this article and learned something new about the different types of nurses and the education that each one must go through, let us know in the comments what your thoughts are on this article.  

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