How To Become a Registered Nurse

Photo of registered nurses

The medical field has experienced a boom in demand for registered nurses, with a projected increase in demand to reach 14% or higher over the next few years.  Compensation packages are becoming very lucrative to recruit qualified personnel.  How do you go about getting your hands on a piece of the pie?  Become a registered nurse.

Becoming a registered nurse isn't as tough as you might think.  There are a few educational requirements, but these can be met within 18-24 months by attending an accredited Associate's degree program in nursing.  If you are interested in how to become a registered nurse, the outline below should help you on your way.

1. Enroll in a nursing program:  There are many nursing programs out there to choose from.  In order to become an RN, you can choose from several different educational paths.

  • First, attend a vocational training center and become a licensed practical nurse (LPN).  This can usually be accomplished in one year.
  • Then attend an LPN to RN training program.  Many times these are offered through local community colleges; depending on work experience, they generally take a year or less to complete.
  • If you are ready to commit to earning your RN certification outright, attend a two or four year program.  A candidate can become an RN in as little as two years, but these RNs tend to stay on the lower end of the earning scale, with less opportunity to branch out into other specialties.
  • A four-year Bachelor's RN degree will earn the new RN a much larger salary, a competitive edge when applying for new jobs, and the opportunity to broaden her realm of expertise in a new direction, such as physician's assistant or nurse practitioner, if the candidate so chooses.
  • If you initially choose a two-year degree, you can later convert it to a Bachelor's by attending a bridge program designed especially for working RN's, which earns learning credits for work experience, shortening the time it takes to earn a Bachelor's.

2. Complete the nursing curriculum: This sounds pretty self-explanatory, however, what may not be readily apparent is that coursework only makes up a small portion of the learning experience.  There are also practical application modules, where nurses must apply their knowledge - under supervision, of course - in a hospital setting.  These sessions can be grueling, but they are required.
3. Sit and pass the certification test.
4. Apply for a job.

It's that easy.  You can get started on a new career path as soon as a new semester begins.


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