This post is about how to become an RN (Registered Nurse). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Nursing profession is projected to add more jobs to the United States economy over the next decade than any other single profession. By 2018, more than 580,000 new nursing jobs will be added. If you are considering becoming a registered nurse (RN), there is no better time to enter the profession than now. Simply put, nurses are in demand across the entire healthcare industry and they have no problem finding employment after graduation. Even better, nurses continue to earn good money, with the median annual salary for registered nurses coming in at $66,640 in 2016-17 – according to data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics . Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. However, with the median salary in the mid sixties, nursing is definitely a field to consider if you want to be a healthcare professional.
Currently, over 2.7 million registered nurses are employed in the United States. Of that number, approximately 60 percent work in hospitals. In this post, we will discuss what it takes to become an RN. We will talk about what an RN does, education requirement, and the exam you must take to become a registered nurse.
Types of Registered Nurse
As a nurse, you can choose to specialize in a particular area, and this includes:
Job Duties of a Registered Nurse
As a registered nurse, your job responsibilities will vary depending on where you work. However, you can expect to perform duties that include providing direct care to patients, assisting physicians in medical procedures, offering guidance to family members, and leading public health education campaigns. You may also operate medical monitoring equipment and administer medications.
As a registered nurses, you should expect to stand on your feet a lot as the work involves a lot of movement. You should also expect your work schedule to be dependent on the needs of the institution you work for, and there is no guarantee that you will have a permanent schedule. Some nurses work in a rotating schedule environment and are sometimes required to work overtime or come in during emergencies (which in the medical field happens a lot).
How to Become an RN
How to Become an RN – Step 1
The first requirement to becoming a nurse is to successfully graduate from an accredited program. Here, you have many paths you can choose, the path you take determines what areas you will be allowed to practice in and essentially what your income potential will be. Here are the options:
Nursing Diploma – This can usually be completed in 12 months.
Associate degrees – An associate degree in nursing typically takes two years to complete. There are programs out there that take less time but expect to invest two years if you enroll in a typical associate nursing program.
Bachelor’s degrees – A bachelor’s degree in nursing takes about four years. However, if you already have an associate degree, then you can enroll in an associate-to-bachelor’s RN program, which takes about two years to complete.
If you already have bachelor’s degree in another field other than nursing, you can get a degree in nursing and there are programs that accelerate the bachelor’s in nursing degree if you already have a bachelors degree in another field, especially if it’s in the sciences.
Note that as the field of nursing has become more competitive, more employers are requiring RNs to hold a bachelor’s degree so your prospects for employment increases tremendously if you hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing versus an associate degree or nursing diploma.
Click here to see the typical course work for a 2 year program and a four year nursing program.
How to Become an RN – Step 2
The second step after successfully completing your degree program is to pass the NCLEX-RN exam. You will have to register with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing to sign up for the exams. The NCLEX-RN exam is a computerized test that has an average of 119 questions and must be completed within six hours. You have to score in the 70-75 percent rage to pass the NCLEX-RN.
If you pass the test, then you move to step 3 below. If you don’t pass the text, you can take it again but there is a waiting period – which is at least 45 days before you will be allowed to re-take the exam.
How to Become an RN – Step 3
After you have successfully completed the NCLEX-RN exam, you can now get a state license to practice in your state of choice. Each US state and territory, as well as the District of Columbia, have their own requirements for licensing nurses to refer to the state specific information on what you need to do to be licensed in your state. You state board of nursing should have all the information you need. Expect to go through some form of background check as part of the licensing process.
How to Become an RN – Step 4
After you get your state license, you are now ready to apply for a job as an RN.