How to Become a Registered Nurse: The Roadmap to Dream Career
Anyone who has a high school diploma or equivalent has completed an approved nursing program, and has passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) can become a registered nurse (RN). RNs must also meet the requirements for licensure in the state in which they plan to practice.
In order to become a registered nurse, you will need to complete a nursing program at a college, university, or technical school. These programs typically take two to four years to complete and may lead to an associate's degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). After completing your education, you will need to pass the NCLEX exam in order to become licensed to practice as a registered nurse.
In addition to formal education and licensure, registered nurses must also possess certain personal characteristics, such as good communication skills, compassion, and the ability to work well under pressure. They must also have a strong commitment to providing quality care to their patients.
To become a registered nurse (RN), you will need to follow these steps:
- Earn a high school diploma or equivalent: A high school diploma or equivalent is the minimum educational requirement to become a registered nurse.
- Complete an approved nursing program: There are two main paths to becoming an RN: earning an associate's degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). Both paths will prepare you for the NCLEX-RN exam, which is required to become licensed as an RN.
- Pass the NCLEX-RN exam: After completing your nursing education, you will need to take and pass the NCLEX-RN exam in order to become licensed as a registered nurse. The NCLEX-RN exam assesses your knowledge of nursing practice and patient care.
- Obtain a license: Once you have passed the NCLEX-RN exam, you will need to obtain a license to practice as a registered nurse in the state in which you plan to work. Requirements for licensure vary by state, but most states require that you pass the NCLEX-RN exam and meet certain education and background requirements.
- Find a job: After obtaining your license, you can start looking for a job as a registered nurse. RNs work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics, and private practices. You can find job openings through online job boards, professional nursing organizations, and networking with other nurses.
- Continuously improve your skills: To succeed as an RN and advance your career, it's important to continuously improve your knowledge and skills. Consider taking continuing education courses, attending professional development conferences, and seeking out mentorship opportunities.
Becoming a registered nurse is a challenging and rewarding career path that requires a combination of education, dedication, and hard work. With the right preparation and training, you can start your journey to becoming a registered nurse.
You can get the education to become a registered nurse (RN) from various institutions, including
- Colleges and universities: Many colleges and universities offer associate's degrees in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) programs. Both of these programs provide the education and training needed to become a registered nurse.
- Community colleges: Community colleges often offer ADN programs, which typically take two years to complete. These programs prepare you for the NCLEX-RN exam and provide the foundation you need to start your career as a registered nurse.
- Technical and vocational schools: Some technical and vocational schools offer practical nursing programs, which take one year to complete and prepare you to take the NCLEX-PN exam. After passing the NCLEX-PN exam, you may work as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) and continue your education to become an RN.
- Online programs: Some schools offer online nursing programs, which can provide you with the flexibility to study and learn at your own pace. However, it's important to ensure that the online program you choose is accredited and meets the education requirements for becoming a registered nurse.
Regardless of the type of program you choose, it's important to ensure that it is accredited by the appropriate accrediting body, such as the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Accreditation ensures that the program meets certain standards for quality and prepares you for the NCLEX-RN exam and a career as a registered nurse.
The time it takes to become a registered nurse (RN) can vary depending on the type of educational program you choose. Here are the two main options:
- Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN): An ADN program typically takes two years to complete and provides you with the education and training you need to become a registered nurse. After completing the ADN program, you'll need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam to become licensed as a registered nurse.
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN): A BSN program takes four years to complete and provides a broader and more comprehensive education in nursing, including subjects such as patient care management, nursing research, and leadership. After completing a BSN program, you'll also need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam to become licensed as a registered nurse.
Note that some registered nurses may choose to continue their education and pursue advanced degrees, such as a master's degree in nursing (MSN), which can lead to specialty certification and advanced practice roles. These programs can take additional time to complete.
To become a registered nurse, you'll need to have a combination of both technical and interpersonal skills. Some of the key skills required to be a successful registered nurse include:
- Critical thinking and problem-solving: RNs must be able to assess patients, identify problems, and make decisions to provide the best care possible.
- Attention to detail: RNs must be meticulous in monitoring and recording patients' vital signs and other important information.
- Empathy and compassion: RNs must be able to provide emotional support to patients and their families during difficult times.
- Communication: RNs must be able to effectively communicate with patients, family members, and healthcare team members to ensure the best possible outcomes.
- Physical dexterity: RNs may need to perform physically demanding tasks, such as moving and transferring patients, administering medications, and performing procedures.
- Adaptability: RNs must be able to work in fast-paced and sometimes stressful environments, and must be able to adjust to changing patient needs and shifting priorities.
- Time management: RNs must be able to manage their time effectively in order to provide high-quality care to multiple patients.
- Technical skills: RNs must be proficient in using medical equipment and technology, such as electronic medical records systems, to provide effective care.
Becoming a registered nurse can be challenging, but it is also rewarding. The nursing field requires a combination of academic and hands-on learning, and the educational requirements can be rigorous. You'll need to complete a nursing program and pass a national licensure exam (the NCLEX-RN) to become a licensed registered nurse.
Additionally, the work of a registered nurse can be physically and emotionally demanding, and you may be required to work long hours, including nights, weekends, and holidays. However, many registered nurses find the work to be rewarding and meaningful, as they have the opportunity to make a positive impact on patient's lives every day.
It's important to note that while the road to becoming a registered nurse can be challenging, many people find it to be a fulfilling and rewarding career choice. If you have a passion for helping others and have the drive and determination to succeed, you may find that a career as a registered nurse is well worth the effort.