Becoming a nurse requires a lot of work. The amount of time it takes will largely depend on whether the student wants to be a licensed practical nurse, also called an LPN, or a registered nurse, referred to as an RN. You can also choose to work in the rapidly growing field of nursing informatics.
Nursing shortages have become a problem for hospitals nationwide. Due to the high demand and above average pay, a large number of students are considering going into the nursing field. Here's how to get started working as a nurse.
Regardless of which one you choose, both nursing programs typically have selective criteria for admission. Pre-entrance testing is usually required for the RN and LPN programs. The student must usually register well in advance and must adhere to the deadlines. In addition to the initial application to the school, there may be a separate admissions application for nursing programs. This will vary depending upon the individual learning institution.
This is only one of the first steps in trying to become a nurse. The school may interview applicants, examine grades, check references, and conduct criminal background checks prior to admittance. In the event that the applicant is accepted into the nursing program, they may be required to be fingerprinted, get specific health screenings, and obtain immunizations. The student is solely responsible for these costs.
The length of the nursing program will depend on whether or not the student is pursuing their LPN or RN. Typically, most LPN programs last anywhere from 12 to 18 months. The RN program is usually an associate's degree program that lasts for two years. However, this does not include prerequisites that must be completed before beginning the nursing curriculum.
Applying to the program, getting accepted, and successfully graduating does not mean that you have become a nurse. Upon completion of the program, the graduate must take and successfully pass state licensing and/or state board tests. The cost of these tests will depend on where you reside and which program you have completed. Many states will allow the graduate to practice as a nurse under supervision for a limited amount of time before taking this exam. Only after the new graduate has become licensed and/or registered are they considered a nurse.
Those who wish to become a nurse should start preparing as soon as possible. This may consist of applying early, taking core component classes, etc. One way to begin your new career in nursing is to pursue an online nursing informatics degree, or an online degree in another nursing discipline. Many times there are waiting lists for the nursing programs. Becoming a nurse may seem difficult at times, but it's well worth it.