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Nursing in Illinois - FAQ

1. What Is A Nurse?

Nurses are an integral part of the team of health care professionals responsible for the treatment, safety, and recovery of moderately, acutely, chronically ill, or injured people, health maintenance of the healthy, and treatment of life-threatening emergencies in a wide range of health care settings. Nurses may also be involved in medical and nursing research and education, and perform a wide range of non-clinical functions necessary to the delivery of health care.

2. How Do I Become A Nurse?

To become a nurse, you will need to apply to a nursing program. Each program is different in its requirements for application. Since nursing is a science-based program, you will need to consider the following essential coursework in your undergraduate studies: chemistry, anatomy, physiology, microbiology, nutrition and statistics, lifespan development, and other general courses which could include English composition, sociology, and psychology. The number and types of courses you will be required to take will depend on the type of degree that you are seeking.


If you would like more information about nursing programs in Illinois visit our education opportunities Pre-Licensure Education Page.


If you would like more information about what a nurse is and/or becoming a nurse, click on the following link for "Nursing: The Ultimate Adventure" or "Is Nursing For You" from the National Student Nurses Association. Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.

3. What Are The Types Of Nurses?

There are three types of nurses specifically educated and trained to provide nursing care in Illinois. They are classified as follows:


Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

An LPN is a person who is specifically prepared in the techniques of nursing, who is a graduate of an approved school of practical nursing and whose qualifications have been examined by a state board of nursing, and who has been legally authorized to practice as a licensed practical nurse must have the basic nursing knowledge, judgment, and skill acquired by means of completion of an approved practical nursing education program. Practical nursing includes assisting in the nursing process as delegated by and under the direction of a registered professional nurse. The practical nurse may work under the direction of a licensed physician, dentist, podiatrist, or other health care professional.


Registered Nurse (RN)

A RN is who is a graduate of an approved school of nursing and whose qualifications have been examined by a state board of nursing, and who has been legally authorized to practice as a registered professional nurse.  The RN practice is a scientific process founded on a professional body of knowledge, which includes, but is not limited to the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, facilitation of healing, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, groups, communities, and populations.  When providing direct patient care they observe, assess and record symptoms, reactions and progress, assist physicians during surgery, treatments, and examinations, administer medications, and help in the convalescence and rehabilitation of patients.


Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)

An APRN is licensed as both a registered professional nurse and as an APRN.  The APRN qualification includes a graduate degree and certification prior to licensure as an advanced practice registered nurse. An APRN cares for patients by using advanced diagnostic skills, the results of diagnostic tests and procedures ordered by the advanced practice registered nurse, a physician assistant, a dentist, a podiatrist, or a physician, and professional judgment to initiate and coordinate the care of patient. An APRN can also order diagnostic tests, prescribe medications and drugs, and administer medications and drugs. Categories include certified nurse midwife (CNM), certified nurse practitioner (CNP), certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), and certified clinical nurse specialist (CNS).


4. If I Study To Be A Nurse, What Are My Career Choices?

Nurses are an important part of the healthcare environment, providing care in many different settings such as hospitals, clinics, schools, private homes, long-term residential centers, and corporations. There are many wide and varied rewards and challenges to becoming a nurse.

Typical job opportunities for a nurse might include:


RN, Hospital Nurse, Office Nurse, Nursing Care Facility Nurse, Home Health Nurse, Public Health Nurse, Occupational Health Nurse, Head Nurse/Nurse Supervisor, Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Educator/Faculty, Nurse Scientist


For more information about nursing career choices, see:

Johnson & Johnson Nursing

Nurse Source

5. If I Study To Become A Nurse, How Is My Job Outlook?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics:


  • Registered nurses constitute the largest health care occupation, with 2.9 million jobs.
  • About 3 out of 5 jobs are in hospitals.
  • The three major educational paths to registered nursing are a bachelor of science degree in nursing (BSN), an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) or a diploma from an approved nursing program. Registered nurses must be licensed.
  • Registered nurses are projected to create the second largest number of new jobs among all occupations; job opportunities in most specialties and employment settings are expected to be excellent, with some employers reporting difficulty attracting and retaining enough RNs.


Median annual earnings of registered nurses were $70,000 in May 2017. The middle 50 percent earned between $57,340 and $85,960. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $48,690, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $104,100. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of registered nurses in May 2017 were as follows:



General Medical and Surgical Hospitals


Office of Physicians


Home health care services


Nursing Care Facilities (Skilled Nursing Facilities)


Outpatient Care Centers


Many employers offer flexible work schedules, child care, educational benefits, and bonuses.

For more information about job outlook for nurses, click on the link below: 

U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics