The nursing industry is rapidly expanding offering potential future nurse’s lots of opportunities to find a job and advance in their career.
With over 75 different career fields currently available to new and existing nurses there is plenty of diversity and career choices to choose from.
Whether you want to work in the legal field as a legal nurse, help solve crimes as a forensic nurse, care for children or the elderly in the neonatal or pediatric care field, fly to different exotic locations as a travel nurse or open your own clinical practice as a nurse practitioner the career choices are endless.
How to become a nurse
The first step towards becoming a nurse begins with deciding where you want to begin your career in the nursing field.
Some individuals choose to begin their career as a licensed practical nurse or a nurse assistant before taking on a stronger role within the nursing field, such as becoming a registered nurse or nurse practitioner.
In any case those who aspire to work in the nursing industry must first acquire either their GED or High School diploma before they can begin taking courses for a nursing program.
For this article we’ll focus on the RN program which offers students an opportunity to participate in an associate, bachelor, masters or doctorate program depending on where you want to go in the field of nursing.
At the end of this post we’ll provide you with additional resources if you’re interested in learning about the LPN or NA programs.
Each advancement a nurse makes in terms of their educational degree offers new opportunities, career choices, responsibilities and salary/benefits, however the education and training required to complete each program takes time, hard work and lot’s of effort.
It generally takes a student 2 – 3 years in order to earn a degree in the nursing program, so for those who want to earn their bachelors degree it usually requires at least 4 years of school (not including the prerequisites that are required to get into the program).
Most nursing programs require potential nursing students to take 4 – 6 prerequisite courses in order to determine their likelihood of succeeding in the nursing program and in some cases to determine whether or not a student gets accepted into the program.
For more information on the required prerequisite courses for nursing students check out: nursing prerequisites.
Note: Some colleges and universities may offer students accelerated nursing programs or credit transfer programs which can save a student a year or more towards earning their nursing degree; however the accelerated programs may also cram a lot more coursework into their shorter term educational programs, so it is important to determine whether or not you are able to complete the additional coursework that’s required of you in a reduced amount of time without sacrificing your education and performance.
Beginning your journey towards becoming an RN
Now that you have an understanding of what it takes to become a registered nurse we’ll go into the process of getting into the nursing program and earning your degree.
As stated earlier it all starts with earning your GED or High School Diploma.
Once you’ve earning your degree you may begin looking for a college or university that offers an accredited and accepted nursing program.
Here is a list of schools available within the United States: Nursing schools in the United States.
In order to help you narrow down the nursing schools and determine which school is right for you you’ll want to figure out what is most important for your educational, financial, cultural, scholastic and prestigious wants and needs.
Here are a few questions you may want to ask yourself before deciding on a nursing school.
1. Can I afford to pay for a particular nursing program that I am interested in?
2. How strong is the competition of the nursing school I want to attend and what is my likelihood of getting accepted?
3. What resources, information, tutoring and programs does this school offer to help me achieve my goals towards becoming a nurse?
4. What is the success rate of students who enter the nursing program of this particular school?
5. What is the drop out rate of students who enter the nursing program of this particular school?
6. What nursing programs does this school offer (i.e.: associate, bachelor, masters and/or masters programs).
7. Will I be able to transfer credits to/from this school if I move or want to continue my education elsewhere.
8. What is my main reason for choosing this school? (Prestige, affordability, school amenities, school culture, educational standards, resources)
9. Does this school fit my personality, goals, beliefs and what I represent as a person?
One you’ve determined the school you’ll be attending you’ll have to take several prerequisite courses before you can get accepted and enter the nursing program.
As stated earlier you may have to take 4 – 6 prerequisite courses which can take up to two years to complete (depending on what the schools requirements are) before being able to participate in the nursing program.
You must also maintain a certain GPA average which is determined by the school you attend.
GPA averages your combined grades for the 4 – 6 prerequisite courses you’re required to take and becomes especially important in schools with limited seats as they often choose students with the highest GPA and enthusiasm for the nursing program.
Once you’ve been accepted into the program you’ll spend several years learning about physiology, anatomy, human biology, psychology and a number of other studies related to the RN field.
At the end of your coursework you’ll be required to take the NCLREX-RN exam which is administered by your state in order to earn your license and begin your career working as a registered nurse.