As baby boomers age and health care needs increase, it is projected that there will be a nursing shortage in the US. There are many levels of nursing degrees. 

A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) has completed one year of in-hospital training.

A registered Nurse (RN) has earned a two-year associate degree in nursing, or a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) from a four-year college.

If you have earned a liberal arts bachelor’s degree and wish to pursue a nursing degree, there are programs that lead to the Second Degree BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) that allow you to earn a second bachelor’s degree, in nursing, in one-two years. The BSN degree is a prerequisite for advanced nursing degrees that lead to careers as Clinical Nurse Practitioner or Nurse Anesthetist. It is also possible to go into a combined MSN program designed for students with a bachelor’s degree outside of nursing. Schools offering either this MSN or a Second Degree BSN can be found using the AACN search at

Commonly required courses: 

Human Anatomy with lab (offered in HES to HES majors or with permission)

Human Physiology with lab (Note: the human physiology course at WF does not have a lab.)

Microbiology (prerequisites BIO 150/L and 160/L)

Statistics (offered by a number of departments on campus)



Commonly recommended courses: Nutrition, Developmental Psychology. Nursing programs vary some in their course requirements. Check with the nursing programs that interest you for their precise requirements. 

Graduate Record Exam (GRE): Most but not all programs require the GRE general test.

Years of post-graduate education required: One – two years of an accelerated BSN program



The Nurse Practitioner provides medical care services similar to those of a Physician Assistant. The NP also specializes in areas such as psychiatry or oncology or geriatric care. He or she works closely with physicians and other health care providers in providing primary care to patients. The NP may take patient histories, evaluate the patient, prescribe medications, and make referrals. They may serve as educators, working towards disease prevention. NPs most often work in hospitals, clinics, and physician’s offices.

Both the Nurse Practitioner and Clinical Nurse Specialist are master’s level nursing positions. A clinical nurse specialist (CNS) specializes in a particular area, such as oncology, emergency room care, or neonatal care. The CNS can practice in a variety of settings, including hospitals, long term care facilities, and clinics, or may even be in private practice. The CNS works with other nurses and health care providers to maximize patient outcomes. In many states, the CNS is able to prescribe medications. The CNS often allows one to move into management-level positions.


Most programs that prepare nurses to become NPs or CNSs require that one first earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing. The Bachelor of Nursing degree can be obtained in 1-2 years after completion of a liberal arts bachelor’s program. There are several programs that allow students without the BSN degree to go from a four year college into a combined BSN/NP program.  Schools offering such programs can be found  using the AACN search at

Years of post-graduate education required: 

Two years of training beyond the bachelor’s degree in nursing, plus additional clinical experience.



The nurse anesthetist is the primary source of delivery of analgesia in many surgeries of all types, and are in particular demand in rural hospitals and the armed forces.


Beginning in January of 2022, all students entering a nurse anesthesia program must be enrolled in a program which leads to a doctoral degree. This means that the time-frame will become a minimum of three years of graduate education to become a nurse anesthetist. The link to the “become a CRNA” page is