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Steps in Obtaining Licensure to Become a Nurse

Higher Education Articles July 4, 2014

Step One: Obtain Your High School Diploma or the Equivalent

There are a lot of misconceptions concerning the ease in entering a nursing program. Although it’s true you can begin a nursing career in as little as one to two years, your study course will be rigorous. You must have a high school diploma or the equivalent before being accepted into the program.

You will receive a math and English placement test. Your scores will be used to determine the math and English courses you’ll need to take before enrolling in college level classes. The tests will be not be timed, and calculators will be provided for completing your math tests. You may not bring your own calculator.

Step Two: Plan Your Career

There are many specialized fields of nursing you can go into and several types of licensing, each with their own requisites. Your choices in licensing are Licensed Practical Nurse, Associate Degree in Nursing, or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The length of time required for a degree program ranges between one to two years for your LPN, two years for your associate’s degree, and four years for your BSN. Regardless of the type of nursing license you pursue, your course work will be heavily involved in biology, chemistry, math, and physiology.

Step Three: Prepare Yourself Well

Don’t do poorly in your science and math courses while you are in high school. From the very first semester in your nursing program, your course work will be intense. You will learn the human anatomy, medical terminology, pharmacology, cellular biology, and genetics. You are also expected to become familiar with computer applications and to be able to write clearly and precisely. Organizational skills are essential.

You can enhance your preparations by attending ROTC, taking class in first aid at school or with a community service, or by volunteering at a local hospital or clinic. Other pre-course work practice can be acquired by volunteering for the care giving of the elderly or a person with a terminal disease.

Step Four: Research the Different Programs

There are few occupations with as high a demand as nursing. This demand is expected to grow by as high as twenty-five percent over the next ten years. To accommodate the need, many colleges and online career services are expanding their educational department to include nursing programs. In addition, there are traditional nursing schools.

Find a program you feel comfortable with and that will fit your schedule if you can only attend part time. If you have been volunteering at a hospital or in a care-giving position, you may qualify for a scholarship or grant for pursuing your studies.

Step Five: Learn to Work within a Team

Effective nursing is built on teamwork. During your course of studies, you will gain hands-on experience within a hospital or clinical setting as an intern or assistant nurse under the direction of a LPN, Registered Nurse, and a physician. Your list of daily tasks may include checking the vital signs of the patients, correctly handling lab samples, keeping patient records, changing bed sheets, and stocking patient rooms.

Step Six: Nursing Is an On-Going Education

The first nursing license you can receive is as an LPN. This will qualify you to work as a practical nurse with the option of working in a clinic, hospital, outpatient facility, nursing home, or extended care unit. Your experience as an LPN will help you decide on whether or not you wish to go into a specialized field, such as surgical nurse, critical care unit, or pediatrics, which will require additional training.

Additionally, all nurses are expected to stay up to date on new technological developments, methods in treatment, and drugs. As an LPN, you are on the road to receiving your RN licensing, or if you choose to complete a degree program, receive your Bachelor of Science in nursing.


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Quick Fact
In 2018, workers with a bachelor's degree or higher had almost twice as much
median earnings per week than workers with only a high school diploma.*
*Bureau of Labor Statistics

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