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Prerequisites for Nursing: How to Start a Career in Nursing

Higher Education Articles February 8, 2013

Basic patient care in healthcare facilities such as clinics and hospitals are provided by nurses. Two to four years of college are usually required to launch a career in nursing; each of the 50 states has licensure requirements that need to be satisfied before nurses are allowed to practice professionally. In this article, we will take a look at the prerequisites for a career in nursing.

Nursing Prerequisites

Aspiring nurses are first required to hold a General Educational Development certificate or a high school diploma. They should also consider completing courses in chemistry and biology.

Nursing Associate Degree

Students aspiring to be nurses can provide themselves with an educational foundation through completion of an associate degree program in nursing (ADN). Coursework in an ADN program combines clinical practice and classroom instruction and includes subject areas such as anatomy, pharmacology and nursing skills. During their hands on training in clinical settings, aspiring nurses are involved in planning and providing care for patients in healthcare settings.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

It takes two years to complete an associate degree in nursing program; a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree usually takes twice as long. Extensive training is offered through the BSN degree program thereby preparing graduates to handle more challenging tasks. Coursework often includes adult health issues, pathophysiology and patient health assessment. Students in Bachelor of Science in nursing programs may be required to undergo comprehensive clinical training to treat every type of patients, including patients suffering from mental ailments.


Graduates from nursing school are required to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Prospective practical nurses (PNs) must take the NCLEX-PN; passing the NCLEX-RN is mandatory for aspiring registered nurses (RNs). There may be additional licensure requirements that need to be satisfied in some states; their state boards should be contacted by candidates seeking additional information. After they obtain licenses, nurses are required to undergo continuing education to maintain their skills and to stay updated about medical advancements and changes.

Career Advancement Requirements

Registered nurses holding a Bachelor of Science in Nursing could enroll in a one to two years graduate degree programs to specialize as a nurse anesthetists, clinical nurse specialists and other advanced nursing professionals. Coursework includes subject areas such as women’s health, internal medicine and pediatrics. Once the program is completed, passing the certificate examination and satisfying licensure requirements as a nurse practitioner are required from a registered nurse.

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