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Timeline to Becoming a Successful Registered Nurse

February 14, 2023 · 4 min read

To become a registered nurse, you typically need to meet the following basic requirements:

  1. Education: Obtain a nursing degree from an accredited nursing program, such as an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program.
  2. Licensure: Pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to obtain a license to practice as a registered nurse in your state.
  3. Background check: You may need to pass a background check to work as a registered nurse in certain healthcare facilities.
  4. Physical and mental health: You must be in good physical and mental health to work as a registered nurse, as the job requires physically demanding tasks and the ability to handle stressful situations.
  5. Communication skills: Effective communication skills are essential to be a successful registered nurse, as you need to be able to communicate effectively with patients, families, healthcare teams, and other stakeholders.

It is not necessary to have a bachelor's degree to become a registered nurse, although many employers prefer or require it. Registered nurses can become licensed through either an associate degree in nursing (ADN) program or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program. 

An ADN program typically takes two years to complete and a BSN program typically takes four years to complete. Becoming a registered nurse also requires passing the NCLEX-RN exam and obtaining a license to practice nursing in the state where they will be working.

It is not necessary to have a master's degree to become a registered nurse, although it can be beneficial in some circumstances. Having a master's degree in nursing can open up opportunities for advanced practice registered nursing (APRN) roles such as nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, or nurse anesthetist. Additionally, some hospitals and healthcare organizations may require or prefer a master's degree for certain management or leadership positions. However, the majority of registered nurses only have an associate's or bachelor's degree and are able to find employment without a master's degree.

A Ph.D. is not necessary to become a registered nurse. Most registered nurses enter the field with either an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited nursing program. Some registered nurses may also choose to earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree to advance their careers or specialize in a particular area of nursing practice, but this is not a requirement to become a registered nurse.

In order to become a registered nurse (RN), you must be licensed by the state in which you plan to practice. This typically involves passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN), which is a standardized test that assesses your knowledge and skills as a nurse. Additionally, some states may require you to meet additional requirements, such as completing a certain number of clinical hours or continuing education courses. Once you are licensed, you may also consider obtaining certification in a specialized area of nursing, such as pediatrics or critical care, to demonstrate your expertise and enhance your professional opportunities.

The time it takes to become a registered nurse (RN) varies, as there are several paths to licensure.

  1. Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN): It typically takes 2 years to complete an ADN program and become an RN.
  2. Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN): BSN programs take 4 years to complete, and once you have completed the program, you can take the NCLEX-RN exam to become a licensed RN.
  3. Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN): ABSN programs are designed for individuals with a previous bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field. ABSN programs typically take 12-18 months to complete.

In addition to formal education, aspiring RNs must also pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN), which tests their knowledge and skills in the field of nursing. The length of time it takes to prepare for the NCLEX-RN exam varies, but on average it takes 3-6 months of dedicated study.

by Olena Sobolieva

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