Nurses are trained through degree programs and practicums. They must earn an undergraduate degree to practice, but they can also choose to do a graduate degree to advance in their careers.
There are two undergraduate degree options available to undergraduate nurses in the United States: associate degrees and bachelor degrees, according to the American Nurses Association. Associate degrees are usually 2-year programs at nursing schools or community colleges. Bachelor degrees are 4-year programs offered at universities. These programs combine technical and practical knowledge with theory and scientific knowledge.
Colleges and universities often include practicums as part of their programs, according to the College of Nursing at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Nursing involves a lot of hands-on work that students can only learn in a hospital environment. Therefore, they place students in clinics and hospitals so they can gain the necessary practical experience.
Nurses can gain additional education, training and qualifications by completing a master's degree or doctorate. These can help nurses become nurse administrators, educators, advance practice nurses or researchers.
The U.S. Army also offers Reserve Officer Training Corps, or ROTC, programs in nursing. These combine nursing degrees with training programs that give students hands-on experience in Army hospitals. This is a helpful route, for students who are considering both private-sector and military nursing careers. The Army's Nurse Summer Training Program sends students to work in hospitals in both the U.S. and Germany.