Copyright

How Do I Become a Registered Nurse?

Individuals looking to become registered nurses (RNs) can do so through education, clinical experience and licensing. RNs work in healthcare settings, treating patients and educating the public on health-related topics, such as illness, injuries, nutrition, recovery and exercise. Duties typically include administering treatments, observing patients and keeping medical records updated.

View 9 Popular Schools »

Step 1: Complete a Nursing Program

Students begin their paths to becoming RNs by enrolling in diploma, associate degree or bachelor's degree programs. Diploma and associate degree programs generally take 2-3 years to complete, while bachelor's degree programs typically take four. Coursework covers dispensing pharmaceuticals and preparation for situations nurses face in clinical settings. Course topics can include:

  • Nursing leadership and management
  • Anatomy
  • Biology
  • Informatics
  • Health assessment

Step 2: Gain Clinical Experience

Students must complete a certain number of hours of clinical work to graduate from a nursing program and qualify for state licensure. Students train in live clinical settings, such as health centers or hospitals, under the guidance of experienced nursing faculty. They learn to use specialized equipment and observe procedures for reacting to different types of patients and situations. Students enrolled in bachelor's degree programs typically gain more clinical experience in non-hospital settings than do students enrolled in associate degree or diploma programs.

Step 3: Get Licensed

All states require graduates to earn a license in order to legally work as a registered nurse. Candidates must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN), which is administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. To qualify for the computer-adaptive exam, candidates must have completed an approved nursing program. States might also require additional jurisdictional testing or other licensure requirements, such as background checks or health screenings.

Step 4: Fulfill Continuing Education Requirements

Many states require RNs to complete continuing education in order to keep their nursing licenses active. The exact number of hours varies by state. Some possible options that earn continuing education credit include professional certification in a nursing field, medical research projects, college-level classes or accredited online courses. State nursing boards maintain a list of acceptable courses, programs and activities.

Step 5: Advance A Career

Becoming an RN can provide many pathways for career advancement with additional training, education and experience. Earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, specialty certificate or Master of Science in Nursing can prepare experienced RNs for management, consulting, teaching or research positions, as well as numerous clinical specializations within the nursing profession. Nurses can choose to specialize in areas such as pediatric or geriatric nursing through additional education or optional certification. RNs can also become advanced practice nurses, such as clinical nurse specialists or nurse practitioners. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has predicted that employment of registered nurses, including advanced practice nurses and nurse practitioners, will increase 26% from 2010 to 2020. In 2012, the BLS indicated that RNs earned an average of $67,930 per year, while nurse practitioners brought in just over $90,000 annually on average.

Show me popular schools

Related to How Do I Become a Registered Nurse

  • Related
  • Recently Updated
  • Popular
How to Become a Registered Nurse Midwife

Learn how to become a registered nurse midwife. Research the education requirements, training information and experience...

Registered Nurse: Job Description & Career Requirements

Registered nurses perform basic medical exams, assist doctors during medical procedures and monitor patients' progress, among...

Top College in Tulsa for Registered Nurse Programs

Tulsa, OK, has few schools with registered nursing programs. Find the best program for you by reading about schools' rankings,...

Associate of Registered Nurse: Degree Overview

Learn about associate's degree programs for aspiring registered nurses (RNs). Find out about program prerequisites, courses,...

Registered Nurse (RN): Educational Requirements for Registered Nurses

Popular Schools

Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Dental
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Ethics and Bioethics
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Mental Health Services
      • Nursing Professions
        • Clinical Nursing
        • Critical Care Nursing
        • Mental Health Nursing
        • Neonatal Nursing
        • Nurse Anesthetist
        • Nurse Midwife
        • Nurse Practitioner or Family Nurse Practitioner
        • Nursing Administration
        • Nursing for Adults and Seniors
        • Occupational Health Nursing
        • Operating Room and Surgical Nursing
        • Pediatric Nursing
        • Registered Nurse
      • Public Health and Safety
      • Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Sciences

Popular Schools

Avg. Wages For Related Jobs

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics