There are three educational paths to becoming a registered nurse (RN). You can complete a diploma program through a hospital or earn an associates or bachelors degree in nursing. Diploma programs are offered by hospitals and typically take three years to complete. The diploma course load is the least intensive and it is the minimum qualification for nursing. An associates degree program will take two years to complete and will include subjects such as nursing, anatomy and physiology, nutrition, psychology, chemistry, microbiology, and behavioral science. Many nurses who earn an associates degree in nursing work for a while before continuing on to complete a bachelors degree. The bachelors in nursing will focus more on the physical and social sciences, critical thinking, communication, and leadership. A bachelors is often the minimum qualification for research, consulting, administrative, and teaching positions. Licensing requirements vary by state; however, all states require nurses to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). The exam lasts up to six hours and will test your knowledge of health care management, health promotion, psychosocial and physiological integrity, basic care, and preventative treatment.
Nursing can be a very demanding and rewarding career. Nurses must have the compassion, patience, and emotional stability to effectively treat patients and cope with human suffering, emergencies, and other stresses. Being detail-oriented and well-organized are also valuable qualifications in nursing. You should be adept at critical-thinking when assessing a patient's condition and evaluating any changes in their health. A good nurse must also have excellent communication skills and be able to work in a team environment.
All nursing training programs will include some aspect of practical experience. The more extensive the program the more experience you can expect to gain. Student nurses usually work under supervision in a rotation of hospital departments including pediatrics, maternity, psychiatry, and surgery. Some programs may also include experience in public health departments, walk-in clinics, long-term care facilities, or home health agencies.
Get Your Degree!
Find schools and get information on the program that’s right for you.
Powered by Campus Explorer