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Becoming a Registered Nurse: What You Need to Get There

Higher Education Articles October 3, 2013

Getting the education needed to be a registered nurse takes commitment, but the career holds many rewards. Beginning a nursing career could be a good choice for many reasons. With statistics of an aging population, and difficult economics indicated at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for healthcare and qualified nurses holds great opportunity.

There are several steps an aspiring nurse must complete before attaining a license, and knowing what it will take to get you there is a step in the right direction.

The definition of a Registered Nurse

A designation of Registered Nurse is placed on an individual, who successfully completes an accredited nursing program at an accredited college and who has passed the NCLEX-RN state examination. A key role of registered nurses is the part they play in the direct care of patients, as well as advising and educating families of the patient.

The scope of responsibility includes treating patients for many varied medical conditions, keeping accurate records and medical charts, conducting diagnostics and working with physicians to provide treatment plans that are appropriate for each condition that a patient exhibits.

Requirements for becoming a Registered Nurse

The prerequisites to a nursing program will vary depending on what type of educational path you choose, and the specific school you enroll in. The very minimum requirements of acceptance into any nursing program includes a high school diploma or GED.

You will also be required to have successfully completed certain coursework including biology, anatomy and science. The field of nursing is competitive and many nursing schools are selective in whom they accept each semester for their programs. Each state has its own nursing board that includes specific requirements before a license will be granted, so students are advised to familiarize themselves with those requirements in the state where they want to work as a registered nurse.

Most states will require a criminal background check, which may not keep you from becoming an RN, but it may be difficult to reach the goal.

Training to become a Registered Nurse

Once you have been accepted into a state accredited nursing school, you will be able to choose certain options within the career path that best suits your goals. A well-known option is the traditional BSN, or bachelor of science degree in nursing. This path takes an average of four years to complete and provides a combination of clinical experience and classroom learning experiences under the supervision of teaching and health professionals.

This type of program also trains in certain disciplines such as communication, leadership and decision making. If your goals include the advancement to a master’s degree, it is an excellent option to begin your education in nursing.

Another educational path within the Registered Nursing field is the ADN, or associate’s degree in nursing. An ADN prepares the student for the NCLEX-RN exam and can be completed in two to three years. This accelerates the path for the student who wants to graduate and begin working as an entry level nurse. Choosing this option can lead to a BSN program or a nurse who wants to continue their education while working.

A nursing diploma program can also prepare students for a career while training for other specialty fields. While this option is not offered at all colleges or universities, it is a viable training program that are hospital-based training schools and can be completed in about three years. A graduate of this program is awarded a diploma in nursing and is eligible for the NCLEX-RN state exam.

An aspiring nurse will want to be sure to apply to the school or college or choice early, since many nursing programs are full well ahead of the beginning semester. Course subject classes can also fill quickly which can slow down the process of completion. According to Howtobecomeanrn.org, you should request information from any college or university you are interested in attending in order to study their specific course requirements, as well as state requirements.

Turn in your application and required paperwork as soon as possible. You could have a better chance of acceptance if you are well prepared.

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