Home » Careers » Path to Becoming a Registered Nurse (RN)

Path to Becoming a Registered Nurse (RN)

This post may contain affiliate links which earns us a small commission. To learn more visit our disclosure page.

All around the world, nursing is one of the most sought after careers. Applying to many nursing schools is the key for prospective students.

Although the demand for registered nurses (RN) is high, the competition for admittance to nursing programs is stiff. Before applying, it is wise to obtain the best credentials possible.

RN Career Opportunities

Career opportunities for nurses await not only in hospitals, doctors offices and patients homes, but outside patient care as well. Nurses work directly with and look after patients. But the nurse’s career is not limited to patient care alone. Nurse informaticsand legal nurse consulting are the other job options available for registered nurses who wish to work outside patient care.

In nurse informatics, nurses need to assist other nurses to get accessibility and utilize the computerized information. Legal nurse consulting careers require nurses to work with lawyers. There is a continuous demand for vast number of nurses in patient care. While working with patients, nurses can also choose to do specialization right from neonatology to hospice care.

In addition the job positions of nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetist are also some of the preferred career options for nurses in the healthcare industry. Working as a nurse practitioner, the nurse would be functioning more like a physician’s assistant, providing direct patient care. On the other hand, nurse anesthetists have become a much preferred option for healthcare providers in order to save money spent on hiring anesthesiologists (who earn as high as $300,000 annually).

RN Role, Duties and Responsibilities

Responsibilities of registered nurses include: promote patients’ health, prevent diseases and help patients in the treatment of their illnesses. While working at hospitals, nurses keep patients under keen observation and record illness symptoms as well as the improvements in a patient’s health and report it to the physicians. Not only that, nurses also function as assistants to physicians during surgeries and other treatments. Registered nurses are also required to work out nursing care plans and provide patients with necessary instructions.

The largest group of nurses is comprised of hospital nurses. Licensed practical nurses (LPN) work under the supervision of these hospital nurses. Usually, hospital nurses are assigned specific hospital departments which may include maternity, pediatrics, surgery, intensive care, emergency room etc. There are other nurses who have the responsibility of functioning in multiple departments.

Office nurses perform their patient care work at the physician’s office. The everyday job responsibilities of nurses may vary depending on where they work. Nurses’ job responsibilities may also include routine laboratory work, office work, assistance in minor surgery and keeping records.

RN Education and Training Requirements

Having a career in healthcare can be very rewarding. The first step to this profession is getting proper education.

The United States is home to some of the best nursing schools in the world. These institutions provide a great platform for individuals to pursue a career as a nurse.

Though a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing is required for career advancement and multiple job opportunities, a 2-year hospital or community college program is the basic requirement to acquire entry level job positions in nursing.

Candidates who aspire to become nurse practitioners or nurse anesthetists should obtain a Masters Degree in Nursing.

There are a number of community colleges that offer two-year Associate of Science Degree Programs, which help candidates kick start their career in the field of nursing. To acquire nursing license, students need to graduate from an approved nursing program and then sit for the national licensing examination in their state.

Accelerated Nursing Programs

As previously stated, obtaining a Degree in Nursing often takes a minimum of two years. Accelerated programs in nursing are offered by many schools today. These programs allow students to earn a degree in a short time. This way anyone looking to work right away will be able to.

Not all schools offer accelerated programs. Those that do offer a shortened associate’s or a bachelor’s degree program. Some schools even offer both.

Online Nursing Programs

Another convenient solution most nursing schools are offering today are online programs in nursing. This allows students to work on their own time, right from their home. The upside to this is that it is cheaper and it allows one to work part time. Take note though that there is a hands-on experience portion of the program. This will have to be accomplished at a clinic and on campus more than likely.

Here are some things to consider when picking an online program for nursing:

  • Choose a suitable program for you
  • Ensure that the proper accrediting body accredits the program
  • Check for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) pass rates of previous students
  • Consider a program that fits your budget
  • Pick a program with hands-on experience

Accredited Online Nursing Schools

Accreditation for online nursing programs is important. Online programs and schools will indicate on their site if they are accredited. Either way you need to make sure that you enroll in a program that is accredited. You will only be eligible to take the NCLEX after you have completed an accredited nursing program.

The Different Types of Nursing School Degrees

To help you choose among the different nursing schools you will have to decide on what degree to take. Some schools only offer certain degree programs. This is why knowing what degree you want will help you choose a suitable school. Nursing degree programs available include:

  • Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN)
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
  • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
  • PhD Nursing Programs

An associate’s degree program takes two years to complete. This degree will allow you to apply for entry-level nursing positions. A bachelor’s degree takes four years to complete just like other undergraduate programs. A master’s degree takes an additional two years after completion of a BSN.

Picking a degree will depend on your resources. You need to assess your budget for your education and the time you have. If you only have the time and money to obtain an ADN for the moment then go for it. If you choose to, you can go back to school eventually and obtain a higher degree.

As mentioned previously there are accelerated programs. These will allow you to speed up the process of obtaining a degree. At the same time there are also bridge programs. This means that if you have are an RN or an ADN, you can continue your education by earning a BSN or MSN.

Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN)

Associates degree programs in nursing often get the highest number of applicants. This degree is enough for an individual to practice as a nurse. Many opt for this degree since it only takes two years to complete. Also the expense is much less and graduates are able to apply for nursing jobs in just a short while.

Financial Aid for Nursing School

Each school has a different set of guidelines regarding financial aid. In general financial aid is available in most schools. This will help you pay for your nursing education, which you can pay back when you are more financially stable. In the United States one of the best options to consider is federal aid. Simply find out if you are eligible.

Depending on what state you live in, you will discover that there are a vast number of nursing schools available. Check the ones in your area and determine which ones offer degree programs that are most suitable for you. A career in nursing is definitely a wise choice.

Work Environment & Job Opportunities

If you’re working as as home health nurse or public health nurse, you would need to travel to patients homes and community centers among others. Hospital nurses would often work during weekends, on holidays and during nights, as hospitals and nursing facilities provide patient care round the clock. Long shifts and standing all day on their feet as they do their rounds is part of their duties. Occupational health nurses usually work standard business hours.

Registered nurses employment growth rate is looking quite good. According to the Wall Street Journal, nurses are in demand again in 2016 due to a retirement wave and regional shortages. This is good news since the shortage is driving up salaries and sign-on bonuses. So good news for recent graduates.

Nurses with advance education can avail of even greater job and career opportunities.

Annual Salary

Registered nurses can earn an annual salary ranging between $47,120 and $102,990. As nurses grow in experience and skill, they can also choose to specialize in a specific field and earn a higher salary. Nurses carrying experience of eight years or more earn a median annual salary of around $68,450.

Registered Nurse Organizations

Main Featured Image: Flickr