With a myriad of employment, education and degree options in nursing, it is easy for a prospective nurse to get lost in the lingo. There are many paths one can take to become a practicing nurse. It is important to understand what each program entails and what it provides for a future in nursing.

To become a Registered Nurse (RN), one must first earn either an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN) and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).

One can practice as an RN with either an associate's or a bachelor's degree. The difference in each degree lies mainly in the amount of education required. The incentive to receive a BSN versus an ADN lies in increased salary, job opportunities and promotion.

An ADN, sometimes referred to as an ASN, Associate of Science in Nursing, is typically a 2-year degree, while earning a BSN might take four years. Once a qualified individual completes their degree program and passes the NCLEX, he or she is considered an RN, regardless of ASN or BSN. Many ASN-RN's choose to continue their education to receive their BSN through an ASN to BSN (RN to BSN) program, which is typically 18 to 24 months.