How To Become A Registered Nurse – Requirements, Education, Certification, And Training

The Prerequisites For A Nursing School – Classes, Degrees, Training

We have talked about what registered nurses do in great detail. We know this is great career path that offer a lot of options on the job market and lucrative pay. There are many industries outside the medical field that need a nurse’s experience as well. Nursing can be great for anyone interested in the medical field, helping people, and a fulfilling job.

Now you are sold on nursing being the correct career path for you. Now a different question pops up. How do I become registered nurse? Where do I start? The answer to those question depends on where you are in your life now and when you want to start working as a nurse.

Whether you are an LPN, a high school student, or just someone looking to make a career change; you will need to enter a specialized nursing program to become an RN. These programs come in many forms. They are built for people who are different stages of their lives and careers.

Different programs will have slightly different requirements. However, this a certainty. The first thing you need is a high school diploma or GED. You need this secondary school degree to get into an accredited nursing program no matter where you in your life.

If you have not taken care of it already, get your GED.  It is easier than ever to achieve it. You can get your GED online in a couple months. If you live in a low income area, there might be someone non  profits who help study for and take the exam for free. There are plenty of options.  In fact,  you cannot even  become an LPN without you GED.

If you are high school student, it might be wise to take some science classes, read out healthcare, and volunteer on the EMS. This is to get an idea is nursing and medical field are for you.

Which Degree Do You Want? Or Type Of Training Or Certification?

The minimum level of education that must be achieved to become a registered nurse is an Associate’s Degree In Nursing (ADN). However, employers would prefer their nurses to have an Bachelor’s Of Science in Nursing (BSN) or Master’s Of Science In Nursing (MSN).

Obviously, the more advanced the degree the longer amount of time you are looking at staying in school. However, there are many different methods to earn your degree these days.

You can get your ADN, pass your licensing exam, and get a job. Then enroll in a part time RN to MSN or RN to BSN program part time at your local university or online. Or you can get your BSN as a full time, work in the ICU or the ER for 2 to 3 years upon graduation, and go back to school for your MSN or Doctorate Degree full time.

There advantages to doing both methods. If you get into the working world early with an ADN, you can really figure out if nursing is for you through experience. Plus an ADN is cheaper, easier, and does not take as long to achieve as a BSN or MSN.

However, you will not get paid as much or have as easy as a time finding a good job as registered nurses that do have those degrees. You will begin your career at a slight disadvantage on the labor market.  You always go and earn those degrees part time and still work full time. This would take away the need the go back to school full time.

If you go to school full time and get a BSN and an MSN, then you put yourself in a much better position to find a well paying job in the sector of healthcare you wish to work in. However, you have spent much more money and years in school than the registered nurse with an ADN.

After high school, the average amount time it will take to achieve your degree:
– Associate’s Degree In Nursing (ADN) – 2 years
– Bachelor’s Of Science In Nursing (BSN) – 4 years

After getting a BSN, the average amount time it will take to achieve your degree:
– Master’s Of Science In Nursing – (MSN) – 1.5 to 2.5 years depending on the program and the healthcare specialty studied.
– Doctorate Of Nursing Practice – (DNP) – 3 to 4 years depending on the program and the healthcare specialty studied.

As you can see, there are many different ways of earning your degree. How you do it is entirely up to you. After earning their degree a nurse must successfully pass their national licensing exam for registered nurses (NCLREX-RN) and receive their registered nursing license.

​What If I Am Switching Career Paths?

​Each nursing program will have their own set prerequisites you must complete to gain enrollment into the program. You complete each degree one at a time or go through a bridge program, then you should not have to worry about this.

Those who will need to do this will be shifting over to nursing from entirely different career paths. Meaning they will have a degree in a subject matter unrelated to nursing, healthcare, medicine, or science.

Those who come from academic or career backgrounds outside nursing will need to take the prerequisites that your program desires. Many programs exist for these types of students.  However, the process might take 1 to 2 years longer than students with nursing backgrounds.

Achieving an ADN (community college) or BSN (through an accelerated post bachelor’s degree program) and attaining more advanced degree part time might be the desirable for someone who does not want to take much time off work. This path works well for those changing career paths and allows them to work again after only 1 to 2 years.

Conclusion And Recap

Becoming a registered nurse is an attainable goal for most people. It will require hard work and discipline but it will pay off. You just need to follow a simple guide of steps, prepare diligently, and work your tail off along the way. Here is a quick recap of those steps:

1). Attain High Diploma or GED ​This will always be the first step. Cannot become a registered nurse without a high school diploma. The lowest level of education a registered nurse is allowed to have is a associate’s degree (ADN). That requires a GED beforehand.

2). Choosing What Type Of Nursing Program You Want To Enroll In And What Degree You Want To  Earn Now we must decide what degree you want to earn. There are a couple options. You can get an ADN, BSN, MSN, or DPN. The higher the degree the more career options you will have. Plus you will enjoy a higher salary as well.

However, you will also spend a longer amount of time and money on school. This depends on personal preferences and life circumstances. Always remember, you can go back and earn those higher level degrees later in your career. You can also earn them part time and online while still working full time. There plenty of options these days.

​3). Do Well In Your Coursework And Graduate With An ADN, BSN, or MSN Potential employers will have a minimum GPA to hire potential candidates. GPA is a big admissions factor into graduate school. It is very important you do well in your classes so your GPA does not hold you back on the job market or on graduate school applications.

There are methods you use to ensure you do well in school. Join study groups, pay for tutoring, go to professor office hours and ask question, study 2 hours for every hour of class, live and hangout with hard working students who are serious about their studies, work hard during clinical rotations, treat nursing school like job, etc.

We could probably write a whole separate article on how to put the chances in your favor when it comes to doing well in nursing school. But we cannot stress how important it is do well in your classes. As the nursing labor market becomes more competitive, having good grades will give you a leg up over your peers. Do not take that advantage for granted.

4). Attain Your Registered Nursing License ​Upon graduating, you will need to pass the licensing exam in your state. Then are officially allowed to work as a registered nurse. Now it is time start applying for jobs.

5). Look For And Get A Job In The ER or ICU ​The next step is to look for a job at a well respected medical facility. Most employers and graduate school admissions respect registered nurses with a couple years experience in the ICU or ER. Here RNs will build skills quickly and learn critical care in and out.

Make to build a good looking resume and 2 or 3 people who can give you a good reference on hand. Also make sure to use your networks and connections. Tell your friends, old professors, and classmates that you are looking for a job.  You will be surprised on the amount of people who will go out of their way to help you out.

Follow that guide and you will be on your way to becoming a registered nurse. Just know it will take time, patience, and hard work. However, it is well worth if this what you want to do with life and your career.

See also Nursing brain sheet