What It Takes To Become An Rn – Would you like to start your career as a registered nurse? Is an RN an excellent choice for you? In this career guide, let’s define the job of a registered nurse, what they do, where they work, registered nurse salaries, and how to become a registered nurse.
A Registered Nurse (RN) is a licensed healthcare professional with at least an associate degree or baccalaureate degree who provides qualified patient care. Registered Nurses have earned a degree from an accredited nursing school and successfully passed the NCLEX-RN. Registered nurses are employed in many different settings, from acute emergency care, operating rooms, private clinics or community health services.
What It Takes To Become An Rn
Nurses are respected professionals and members of the healthcare team. In fact, nurses are consistently voted the most trustworthy and ethical profession every year in the annual Gallup poll. The Registered Nurse (RN) also came in as the 19th best job in the recent US News list of the top 100 jobs in the United States, while two nursing specialties made the top 10.
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The registered nurse salary in the United States is $80,010 or $38.47 per hour. Education level, experience, position, employer and geographic location are factors in how much salary RNs can earn. A newly qualified registered nurse can expect to make between $45,000 and $60,000 per year.
There are wide disparities in average nurse salaries between states, with the highest average in California at $120,560 and the lowest in Puerto Rico at $35,600. However, keep in mind that salaries are also affected by the cost of living between states and between town and country.
If you are wondering how long it takes to become a registered nurse, or how long a typical nursing program is, you need to understand that there are different ways to earn a nursing degree that will qualify you for a license. Depending on the educational path, it can take 1 to 4 years for students to complete a nursing degree. They are discussed further below.
So what education is required to become a registered nurse? To become a registered nurse, you must complete a nursing program at an accredited nursing school and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to receive your license (statutory authority to practice as a nursing professional).
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Diploma programs in nursing are hospital-based educational programs and typically last from one to three years, depending on the curriculum. The first nursing schools established for registered nurses were diploma programs, and many nurses practicing today received their basic nursing education through these programs. The number of graduate nursing programs has steadily declined in recent years, with many institutions requiring at least a two-year ADN.
Currently, an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is still the most common way for nurses to gain qualifications. An associate degree in nursing typically takes two years to complete. Coursework includes basic sciences, social sciences, nursing theory and nursing practice.
The nursing profession set a 2010 goal of having 80% of practicing nurses qualified with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or higher by 2020. The Institute of Medicine’s Future of Nursing report states that nurses should attain a higher level of education given developments in healthcare. Recommendations by various nursing organizations that entry into professional practice be at the baccalaureate level has led to an increase in BSN programs, and some employers have higher salary scales for nurses with a BSN degree than for those with an ADN or diploma. The BSN qualification provides you with greater advancement opportunities, including positions in nursing leadership and administration. A BSN degree is also required as an initial baseline certification if pursuing a nursing specialization or pursuing a masters or doctorate in nursing.
There are three ways you can earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN): traditional baccalaureate programs, accelerated BSN programs, and RN-to-BSN degree programs.
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Baccalaureate programs typically last four years and are located in higher colleges and universities. The coursework is in-depth and includes liberal arts, sciences, liberal arts, nursing research, nursing theory and nursing practice.
If you have already earned another degree before deciding to become a registered nurse, you can enroll in an accelerated BSN program, which typically takes about two years to complete. Accelerated BSN programs (also known as “second degree” or “fast track” BSN) have been offered by some nursing schools to fill the significant shortage of registered nurses. Accelerated nursing programs are rigorous and have a modified curriculum designed to reduce the amount of time required to gain clinical experience. It usually includes summer courses, so no breaks between semesters.
If you are a licensed registered nurse with a diploma or associate degree and wish to continue your education to become a BSN, you can attend BSN degree programs. If you can’t complete a full-time degree for four years, many nurses still qualify with a Diploma or ADN and then complete an RN-to-BSN program while employed as registered nurses. Part-time RN to BSN programs are available, including online, and some employers have assistance programs for nurses to obtain a BSN this way. RN to BSN programs typically last two years.
After you complete your nursing course and earn your degree, you still need to apply for a license from the state nursing agency where you want to work. Nurses must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) in order to be licensed and practice as a registered nurse. The NCLEX-RN is a computer-based adaptive test that keeps asking questions until the computer is sure you can provide safe and effective care.
Study To Become An Rn
Each state nursing agency has its own requirements that you need to review. All ensure that the required coursework has been completed at an accredited institution and take the applicant’s background into account. This may include a criminal record check.
Nurses in hospitals or other inpatient facilities look after their patients 24 hours a day. In comparison, other healthcare professionals only consult or treat their patients for limited periods of time. RNs have varying degrees of autonomy and responsibilities in different settings, providing direct care, teaching patients and their companions, serving as advocates, and helping to develop policies that affect community or hospital health.
In outpatient healthcare, registered nurses are usually the first point of contact for patients. Here, nurses can either provide healthcare themselves or refer the patient to another healthcare provider if necessary.
The functions described below apply wherever an RN might work. However, the specific duties of a nurse vary between different jobs and different healthcare facilities.
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One of the benefits of becoming a registered nurse is that you have a variety of settings to choose from to work from. Although the majority of registered nurses work in a hospital, nurses do not always work in hospitals.
As a Registered Nurse, you can choose to work as a Hospital Nurse, School Nurse, Long Term Care Nurse, Nursing Instructor, Flight Nurse, Travel Nurse, Home Nurse, even a Cruise Ship Nurse! Every nurse has the opportunity to develop professionally according to their interests, their personality and their strengths. Changes in professional direction can also be made according to the changing demands of personal and family life. School nurses and registered occupational physicians are among those nurses who work for non-healthcare employers. Then there are the nurses who work as nurse educators at colleges and universities and as consultants for government at the federal or other levels.
There are many opportunities to advance your career and specialize in nursing. Nurses can specialize in a specific area of care. Some of the types of RNs are:
You can also continue your education to become an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) and work towards your certification. APRNs have at least a master’s degree in nursing. Some examples of APRNs are:
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Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of working as a nurse so you can make an informed decision about pursuing a career in nursing.
While registered nurses today require a very high level of knowledge and skill, it’s still a calling! Nursing is both an art and a science. There will be challenging days in both nursing school and being a registered nurse, but it’s worth it! You see people at their lowest and the ability to help lift them up. And despite the challenges, most nurses report high job satisfaction and wouldn’t change their careers for anything. If you think nursing is for you, take the next step and apply for admission to a nursing school – possibly one of the top 100 varsity nursing colleges in the United States.
Matt Vera has been a registered nurse with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing since 2009 and is
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