How to Become A Registered Nurse

Summary of how to become a registered nurse

  • Registered nurses generally take one of 3 education paths: a BSN, an ADN, or a Nursing Diploma
  • It takes up to 3-4 years to complete the nursing education
  • Registered nurses need to be licensed
  • Average Salary for an RN is $67,470
  • Expected Lifetime Earnings: $2,823,000

Registered nurses generally take one of these three education paths: a BSN (Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing), an ADN (Associate’s Degree in Nursing), or a Nursing Diploma from an accredited Nursing Program. All nursing education programs require students to take courses in physiology, anatomy, microbiology, nutrition, chemistry, psychology, social sciences, behavioral sciences, and liberal arts.

BSN programs generally require four years to complete, while ADN and Nurse Diploma programs, in general, will take up to three years to complete. All these training programs come with supervised clinical experience. Bachelor’s degree training also includes courses in the social and physical sciences, critical thinking, leadership, and communication, and provide also clinical experience in a non-hospital setting.

For many higher positions in research, consulting, teaching, or administrative functions, a Bachelor’s degree is minimally required. Many RN’s that are holding a diploma or an ADN are choosing to return to school to obtain a bachelor’s degree via an RN-to-BSN program. Registered nurses need to be licensed.

Registered Nurse – The Job

The nursing profession provides a number of career opportunities in a variety of different settings. Many nurses begin their careers as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). This is a good introduction to the world of nursing as the CNA works under the supervision of a licensed nurse. Becoming a nursing assistant usually requires some classroom work that results in a certificate of completion.

In order to become a CNA, a high school diploma or GED is required. Good grades are necessary because getting accepted into a nursing assistant program has become competitive. Schools are looking for the strongest candidates who have a solid understanding of math, chemistry and the human body. Check out if becoming a nurse is good for you.

A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) usually attends a one to two-year community college or private school program. LPNs work mainly in general health care, monitoring patients and providing support to the care plan.

A Registered Nurse (RN) can obtain their education a few ways. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) approach is a four-year degree that is earned at a college, university or community college. There is also an Associates Degree in Nursing for RN’s. This program takes two to three years and is most often completed at a community college. The final and less common, way to become an RN is through a joint hospital/college program that combines practical experience in the hospital while taking college courses. Normally, this results in a diploma being conferred as opposed to a college degree. Read here our guide how to become the Registered Nurse (RN)

The most popular path is the Bachelor of Science in Nursing as hospitals and clinics tend to compensate nurses based on their level of education. Once a person becomes a Registered Nurse, in order to legally practice, they must take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

There is also a Master of Science in Nursing degree available to RN’s who wish to specialize or work in the academic or administrative areas of nursing.

Nursing Specializations

Most nurses begin working in the area of general medicine and health care. However, there are many other areas in which the nurse may specialize. Some specializations require a Masters degree, while others require special classes and certifications. These concentrations include:

  • Obstetrics
  • Gynecology
  • Neonatology
  • Pediatrics
  • Geriatrics
  • Transplantation
  • Critical Care
  • Emergency and Trauma
  • Orthopedics
  • Nephrology

This is just a partial list as nurses may be found in many other areas, such as women’s health, public health, and family practice. Wherever there is a need for ongoing care, nursing is a part of the overall support team.

Continuing Education and Certification

Each state defines how often the NCLEX-RN exam must be retaken in order to practice in that state. Frequently, states, hospitals, and specialties require continuing education units (CEUs) each year. Because the nursing profession continues to grow as advances in health care and disease prevention evolve in our culture, this ongoing education ensures the nurse is current on the latest practices in their profession and specialties.

International Nurses

International nurses will find a lot of professional opportunities and valuable networking in the U.S. They may find great professional options at the nation’s best healthcare facilities, They can easily find employment at research hospitals, teaching hospitals, and they will have the chance to learn all about the most recent innovative developments in patient care.

In the U.S. there are astonishing career opportunities for RN’s (Registered Nurses) who want to immigrate to find a better personal and professional life in America. Registered Nurses have jobs that come with highly competitive salaries, and there are great advancement options and employment benefits. In the U.S. we can see a shortage of nurses, and healthcare facilities and hospitals and eager to fill these positions with immigrant Registered Nurses.

Today, the immigration requirements and periods for international RN’s are far easier and shorter because of the U.S. Priority Dates for the visa RN’s need for immigration to America (EB3 visa). The process has become much faster, and the waiting time for an EB3 has been drastically reduced. International nurses will need a little over one year before they are allowed to work in the U.S., and during this time, they may very well study for the NCLEX-RN exam (The National Council Licensure Examination), and prepare for the licensing process.