RN Requirements and Prerequisites

Registered nurses (RNs) work in hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions. Primarily, they provide care to people who have suffered injury or illness. RNs are qualified to administer medication, perform minor treatments and consult with physicians regarding patients' care. There are several education options for becoming an RN, as well as necessary licensing to legally practice in the field.

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RN Education Prerequisites

The initial requirement for individuals interested in becoming registered nurses is to earn a high school diploma with a grade point average of at least 2.0. Taking high school classes in first aid, health science, anatomy and biology is encouraged. RNs must explain the results of treatment options and tests to patients and their families; therefore, courses in communications, English or related subjects are also good choices. Most nursing degree programs also require the submission of standardized test scores, such as the SAT or ACT.

RN Education Requirements

Earn an Associate of Science in Nursing

Some individuals on the path to becoming a registered nurse choose to first earn an Associate of Science in Nursing (ADN) before moving on to a bachelor's degree program. Other students choose to only earn an associate's degree and pursue entry-level nursing positions immediately. ADN programs typically consist of courses such as microbiology, physical assessment and issues in healthcare. They usually take 2-3 years to complete and qualify nurses to take the licensure exam - NCLEX-RN - to become registered nurses.

Complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program also satisfies RN educational requirements. In addition to the courses typically required in an ADN program, bachelor's programs combine classroom lectures and hands-on clinical experience. BSN programs are four years in length and are considered a better option for students who wish to enter administration or enroll in graduate programs. Graduates of an ADN program who have taken the licensure exam to become RNs may complete a bridge or degree completion program to earn their BSN degrees.

Earn a Master of Science in Nursing

RNs choosing to further their education to become a nurse practitioner, neonatal nurse, clinical nurse specialist, nurse educator or other specialist in nursing need to earn a Master of Science in Nursing. Master's degree programs include two years of schooling in addition to a minimum number of hours of clinical work.

RN Licensing Prerequisites

All 50 states require that nurses who work in a hospital or healthcare institution be licensed. This involves passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) and periodically renewing licensure after entering the workforce. To qualify for the NCLEX-RN, nurses must have graduated from a properly accredited nursing program. Application for the exam must be sent to the jurisdiction in which the student plans to work.

RN Licensing Requirements

The National Council Licensure Examination is a computerized adaptive testing exam, which measures the skills and abilities of nurses. The NCLEX-RN typically requires six hours to complete and the questions are determined based on the test-takers' previous responses. Regional Boards of Nursing receive students' exam results and are responsible for issuing a license to the candidate, enabling them to practice within that state.

RN Salary and Career Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates a 19% job growth for RNs in the years 2012-2022. These workers earned a median annual salary of $66,220 in May 2013, according to the BLS.

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