Becoming a registered nurse is not just about attending nursing school and passing your licensure exams. There are plenty of other factors involved, many of which are left out of the conversation when people apply for nursing school. Below are the five steps to be a registered nurse in the US so that you know more about what to expect and a route that is effective, although there are multiple routes out there.
Have a strong emotional and mental calling for the profession
As a personal caregiver, nurse, or anyone else who works closely with other people, you will need to have the emotional and mental calling to pursue a particular career.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I comfortable working with people who have ailments and illnesses?
- Do I fully understand the severity and importance of this profession?
- Am I emotionally stable enough to work in a medical environment?
- Will I be able to commit to the life of another person?
Be sure that you will be able to assist, care for, and foster adults, children, and the elderly. You need to have a willingness to manage and adhere to medical practitioners and entities with strict medical and professional standards for registered nurses.
Step 2 to be a registered nurse
Choose an educational pathway that works for you
Nursing school has changed. So, finding a nursing school or similar educational program that works best with what you want can be beneficial.
There are three primary nursing school streams:
- BSN – a Bachelor of Science in Nursing is a four-year college degree
- BS – a Bachelor of Science degree is an accelerated program
- ADN – an Associate’s Degree in Nursing is a two-year program
BSN and BS programs are more focused on students who may already have a bachelor’s degree in a different field. The expectation, typically, is that you already have working experience in the field and have fulfilled program requirements for entry.
As you think about the educational path to take, consider the variety of different nursing careers you can choose. These include, but are not limited to:
- Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Nurse
- Oncology Nurse
- Pediatric Nurse
- Surgical Nurse
- Trauma Nurse
- Psychiatric Nurse
- Flight Nurse
Some nursing careers require additional training and education. So, understanding the prerequisites for each educational program is extremely important. The must-haves will be different for each situation, and some nursing schools will assist with module guidance.
It’s advisable to take some online medical courses and earn a PALS certificate, which is a valuable qualification for an aspiring nurse.
Step 3 for being a registered nurse
Set aside enough time to complete your studies
Many people forget that becoming a registered nurse can take anywhere from two to six years. It’s not just about the degree – depending on your program, this is what the general timeline would look like:
- Obtaining a degree
- Prepping and passing the National Council Licensure Examination (Nclex-RN)
- Receiving a practice opportunity
- Obtain your state licensure
In some instances, it’s possible to complete this in two years, but many program streams will take longer. The extended length will accommodate learning a range of skills and acquiring the necessary knowledge to be successful in the medical field, including undergoing practicums.
Step 4 to be a registered nurse
Obtain your state license
Once you have completed your studies and obtained your associate’s or bachelor’s degree, the next phase is to apply for state licensure. There is no collective framework for licensure, as each state has its own rules and regulations.
Future RNs can only complete their Nclex-RN after applying for and receiving their state licensure. This license is one of the requirements of the program.
Take the Nclex-RN exam
There is a wide variety of prep materials, notes, and previous tests you can review before taking the exam to greatly improve your chances of passing the Nclex-RN examination. The special text applies and analyzes what you learned in nursing school.
The Nclex-RN is the final step future nurses have to undergo before officially becoming an RN. Luckily, the field has seen a surge in new job opportunities as the demand for well-trained registered nurses is constantly growing.
Final thoughts on steps to be a registered nurse
Several variables can influence the outcomes of your journey to becoming a registered nurse. It’s important to know going into it that the process can be time-consuming and costly, as well as requiring a lot of mental stability.
However, it is well worth it on many levels. Nursing is a highly rewarding profession as you make a difference in countless lives.
When you embark on this career, you will be following in the steps of many amazing nurses in history. Nursing is a career that has immense challenges, yes. But it also has excellent opportunities for career growth and personal satisfaction.