Becoming a Registered Nurse

Becoming a Registered Nurse

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If you want the hands-on experience of helping people become healthier and happier, there is hardly a more rewarding career than nursing.  Those who seek to become registered nurses already carry within them the passion to help people against all odds.  Nurses must have patience, passion, and the fortitude to maneuver through physically and emotionally trying situations. If this sounds like you, then you may have a calling to become a nurse.  If you would like to become a nurse, there is no better time than to start now.  Below are the steps to becoming a registered nurse so you can begin your journey.

  1. Enroll in an Accredited Program.  There is a vast array of accredited programs available to those seeking to become an RN.  In fact, you can apply for nursing diplomas, associate degrees, or bachelor’s degrees.  Each program offers a different timeframe.  For example, a bachelor’s degree in nursing will take at least four years of full-time study because you will have to complete all other university requirements.  You will have to meet all grades necessary in general education classes on top of your nursing coursework.  Having a bachelor’s degree on your resume will show your employers that you have a well-rounded education that goes beyond nursing skills.  If you choose to get a bachelor’s, you may have an advantage to move up quicker into other roles such as advanced nursing, nursing consulting, or research.  Check out degrees in your state, such as California, Oregon, or RN programs in Pennsylvania.  Associate degrees, on the other hand, will take about two years of full-time study, which has the benefit of getting you out of school quicker.  This may be an appealing option if you are looking to save money or change careers quickly.

  2. Pass the NCLEX-RN Examination.  The National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses, or NCLEX-RN, is the exam that determines your candidacy to become a nurse.  Aspiring nurses are encouraged to register for their test as soon as possible to take it not long after graduation.  This will ensure that the information you learned in your education is still fresh in your mind.  All candidates will receive an Authorization to Test notification when the time comes to sign up for the exam.  The exam itself is computerized, and usually will include about 119 questions.  All parts of the exam must be completed within six hours.  If you do not pass, you must wait 45 days before you can attempt to pass the exam again.  The average pass rate in the nation is about 75%.  If you need additional help to pass your exam, do not hesitate to invest in more study materials or attend study groups so candidates can help each other.

  3. Get a License Issued in the State.  Before you can work legally as a nurse, you will have to obtain a nursing license.  It is required in every US state and territory, as well as the District of Columbia.  If you plan on working as a nurse in a particular state, consult the state board of nursing in that area to be sure of every step in the licensing process.  This is because every state will have different specifications, so you cannot know that one state will have the same requirements as another.

  4. Gain Additional Education.  After you become employed and gain experience, you may want to expand your skillset and portfolio to become more competitive among your colleagues.  Additional certification programs will prepare you for positions such as nursing management, or acute care. If you aspire to a certain position in nursing, then you will have to investigate whether it requires a master’s or even a doctorate in order to qualify.  Some positions, such as nurse anesthetists and nurse practitioners, require master’s degree.  Professorial and research positions will often require a doctoral degree, and so on.

A career in nursing can be a rewarding endeavor. Consider the benefits of this path and decide whether becoming an RN is right for you.


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