DiversityNursing Blog

HOW TO BECOME A REGISTERED NURSE

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Sep 08, 2014 @ 10:12 AM

By Marijke Durning

registered nurse do

THE BASICS

Higher education is a key requirement for nurses as the U.S. healthcare environment grows ever-more reliant on technology and specialized skills. There are three common academic pathways toward becoming a registered nurse (RN): the nursing diploma, associate degree (ADN) and bachelor’s degree (BSN).

Following completion of one of these programs, graduates must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) and satisfy state licensing requirements to begin work as an RN. Bridge programs, such as LPN-to-RN and ADN-to-BSN, allow nurses to move ahead in their nursing careers.

Each choice of training program is distinct and offers levels of education to qualify graduates for increasingly responsible roles in nursing practice. This guide is designed to break down the step-by-step process for becoming an RN, including the various routes possible on this career roadmap. Included is an overview of potential specializations and certifications for those interested in moving beyond basic nursing duties. Below are estimates for RN salaries and job growth as well as tools to help prospective nurses search for online and traditional educational programs.

WHAT DOES A REGISTERED NURSE DO?

More than 2.7 million registered nurses are employed in the United States, and nearly 30 percent work in hospitals, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Other RNs work in clinics, physicians’ offices, home health care settings, critical and long-term care facilities, governmental organizations, the military, schools and rehabilitation agencies.

Duties include administering direct care to patients, assisting physicians in medical procedures, providing guidance to family members and leading public health educational efforts. Depending on assignment and education, an RN may also operate medical monitoring or treatment equipment and administer medications. With specialized training or certifications, RNs may focus on a medical specialty, such as geriatric, pediatric, neonatal, surgical or emergency care. Registered nurses work in shifts that run around the clock, on rotating or permanent schedules, and overtime and emergency hours can be unpredictable. Registered nurses are required to complete ongoing education to maintain licensing, and they may choose to return to college to complete a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree with the goal of moving into advanced nursing practice roles or health care administration.

THE STEPS: BECOMING A REGISTERED NURSE

Step 1: COMPLETE AN APPROVED NURSING PROGRAM

Anyone who wants to be an RN must finish a nurse training program. Options include programs that award nursing diplomas, associate and bachelor’s degrees. An associate degree in nursing (ADN) typically takes from two to three years to complete. Accelerated nursing degree programs could potentially shorten the time required. A bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) takes about four years of full-time study to complete, or two years for those in an ADN-to-BSN program. While the structure and content of these training programs differs, they should feature the opportunity to gain supervised clinical experience.

Students may initially only have the time and money to complete a two-year program, but they might later decide to convert their ADN to a BSN degree. Or, students may leap directly into a four-year BSN program if they plan on moving into roles in administration, advanced nursing, nursing consulting, teaching or research. Nursing students complete courses such as the following:

  • Anatomy
  • Biochemistry
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Computer literacy
  • Health care law and ethics
  • Mathematics
  • Microbiology
  • Nutrition
  • Patient care
  • Psychology

A bachelor’s degree program may also include courses on specific health populations, leadership, health education and an overview of potential specializations. A four-year bachelor’s degree program could require liberal arts courses and training in critical thinking and communication to complete the curriculum. Bachelor’s programs can broaden nursing experience beyond the hospital setting. According to the BLS, some employers require newly appointed RNs to hold a bachelor’s degree.

Step 2: PASS THE NCLEX-RN

Accredited undergraduate nursing degree or diploma programs alike are designed to prepare students to sit for the NCLEX examination. Upon graduation, aspiring RNs should register with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing to sign up for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. Candidates receive an Authorization to Test notification before the exam. At the exam, rigorous verification of candidates' identity may include biometric scanning.

This computerized exam has an average of 119 test items to be completed within a six-hour time limit. Examinees who do not pass must wait from 45 days to three months to re-take the exam. According to the California Board of Registered Nursing, students who take the exam right after graduation have a higher chance of passing.

Step 3: OBTAIN A STATE LICENSE

Every state and the District of Columbia require that employed registered nurses hold current licenses. However, requirements vary by state, so students should contact their state board of nursing or nurse licensing to determine exact procedures. In some states, RNs need to complete the NCLEX-RN, meet state educational requirements and pass a criminal background check. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing maintains a listing of licensing requirements on its website.

Step 4: PURSUE ADDITIONAL TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION (OPTIONAL)

For professionals who decide to become advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), a BSN degree provides an academic stepping-stone to master’s degree programs. There are also bridge programs for students who only hold a two-year nursing degree and RN licensure but wish to enroll in graduate programs.

Those with master's degrees may qualify for positions such as certified nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners (NPs) and nurse midwives. It's important to research evolving professional requirements. For example, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing proposes that NPs should earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. A DNP or a PhD degree may appeal to nursing professionals who seek positions as scientific researchers or university professors in the nursing sciences. RNs may also seek certifications in a medical specialty such as oncology. Certifications are offered by non-governmental organizations attesting to nurses' qualifications in fields such as critical care, acute care, nursing management or other advanced areas.

To learn more about RN statistics, jobs, salary and other information CLICK HERE. 

Source: www.learnhowtobecome.org

 

Topics: statistics, registered nurse, how to, information, education, RN, health care

HOW TO BECOME A NURSE

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Sep 08, 2014 @ 10:04 AM

By Marijke Durning

expert img

AN INTRODUCTION TO NURSING CAREERS

The path to becoming a nurse depends on which type of nursing career you’d like to pursue. You could choose to be a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a registered nurse (RN).

An LPN program is typically one year long. Programs to become an RN are either three-year hospital-based nursing school programs (diploma), or two- or four-year college programs. Graduates from two-year programs earn an associate degree in nursing (ADN), while those who attended four-year college programs graduate with a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN). Successful completion of such a program allows you to write the licensing exam, called the NCLEX. Once you have passed the NCLEX, you can apply for a license to practice as a nurse in your state.

LPNs who want to become RNs may be able to follow an LPN-to-RN bridge program. This type of program is adapted for students who already have a nursing background. Registered nurses with the ADN who want to get their BSN may be interested in following an ADN-to-BSN bridge program.

Furthering your nursing education means acquiring more advanced skills and performing more critical tasks. For example, you must be a registered nurse and have at least a master’s in nursing to enter more advanced careers in the field, including nurse practitioner, nurse midwife or nurse anesthetist.

Before applying to colleges or signing up for classes, ask yourself a handful of critical questions: Do I need a bachelor’s degree to work as a nurse? What happens if I fail the NCLEX? Where will I feel comfortable starting as a nurse? Do I want to work myself up to a higher level of nursing gradually or do I want to go straight there?

The following guide helps answer these questions and illustrates the various pathways that aspiring nurses may take to pursue the career they truly want.

WHAT DOES A NURSE DO?

Although nursing responsibilities vary by specialization or unit, nurses have more in common than they have differences. Nurses provide, coordinate and monitor patient care, educate patients and family members about health conditions, provide medications and treatments, give emotional support and advice to patients and their family members, provide care and support to dying patients and their families, and more. They also work with healthy people by providing preventative health care and wellness information.

Although nurses work mostly in hospitals, they can also work in or for schools, private clinics, nursing homes, placement agencies, businesses, prisons, military bases and many other places. Nurses can provide hands-on care, supervise other nurses, teach nursing, work in administration or do research – the sky is the limit.

Work hours for nurses vary quite a bit. While some nurses do work regular shifts, others must work outside traditional work hours, including weekends and holidays. Some nurses work longer shifts, 10 to 12 hours per day, for example, but this allows them to work fewer days and have more days off.

COMMON SKILLS FOR NURSES

Good nurses are compassionate, patient, organized, detail oriented and have good critical thinking skills. An interest in science and math is important due to the content of nursing programs and the technology involved. Nurses must be able to function in high stress situations and be willing to constantly learn as the profession continues to grow and develop.

TYPES OF NURSING CAREERS

If you choose to become an LPN, you will likely provide direct patient care under the supervision of an RN or physician.

Registered nurses have more autonomy than LPNs, and the degree of care they provide depends on their level of education. An RN with an associate degree generally provides hands-on care directly to patients and can supervise LPNs. There may also be some administrative work. An RN with a BSN can take on more leadership roles and more advanced nursing care in specialized units, for example.

Nurses can continue to get a master’s degree in nursing (MSN) and become nurse practitioners, nurse midwives or nurse anesthetists. These are called advanced practice nurses (ARPNs). They have a larger scope of practice and are more independent.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

An entry-level nursing career, LPNs provide basic care to patients, such as checking vitals and applying bandages. This critical medical function requires vocational or two-year training plus passing a licensure examination.

Neonatal Nurse

This specialization focuses on care for newborn infants born prematurely or that face health issues such as infections or defects. Neonatal nursing requires special skill working with small children and parents.

Nurse Practitioner

A more advanced nursing profession, nurse practitioners engage in more decision-making when it comes to exams, treatments and next steps. They go beyond the reach of registered nurses (RNs) and may work with physicians more closely.

Registered Nurse

Registered nurses are the most numerous in the profession and often serve as a fulcrum of patient care. They work with physicians and communicate with patients and their families. They engage in more sophisticated care than LPNs.

Source: www.learnhowtobecome.org

Topics: neonatal nurse, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, how to, nursing, health care, nurse practitioner, career

Click me

ABOUT US

DiversityNursing.com is a national “niche” website for Nurses from student nurses up to CNO’s. We are a Career Job Board, Community and Information Resource for all Nurses regardless of age, race, gender, religion, education, national origin, sexual orientation, disability or physical characteristics. 

Subscribe to Email Updates

Posts by Topic

see all