All You Need to Know on How to Become a Nurse – How Long Does It Take

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General way to becoming a nurse

Many students and professionals would like to know how to become a nurse since there is always hype with the best-paying careers in the world, and nursing is one of the most sought after careers that is not only rewarding monetarily but also comes with lots of benefits. The nursing field leads the charge of the top jobs not only in the U.S. but the entire world. Whether you are at your diploma or doctorate level, here is information that will give you where to start your way up.

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Step-by-step process to becoming a nurse

It all starts with the education part and you are on your way to a career that you have always wanted. It may not have begun in your early school years but it comes later as you learn how to choose the right kind of subjects. There are different academic paths on how to become a nurse whichever specialty you may choose. Here is a step by step process to becoming a nursing practitioner.

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Choosing your nursing path

There are so many ways that your nursing career can take you to. You can become a staff nurse and grow your way to a managing nurse, and from a CAN to a nursing educator. Each of these choices will take a different path at a certain stage though most of them have to begin in the same level.

When you make the choice of the path you want to follow, you should consider the working environment you prefer to work in. There are different areas where you can work as a nurse and each comes with its own differences. For instance, a nursing assistant will work in nursing homes while Registered nurses will have a choice in the hospitals, a doctor’s office, and other medical institutions. Therefore, you should ask yourself where you would wish to work once you are qualified.

There are so many facets in the healthcare sector so you should be aware of which specialty will work for you. If you have a passion for a pediatric, get out and choose the kind of school which will get you there.

Earning a degree

Definitely, the kind of path you choose will dictate the nursing education you should follow. All the nursing programs are divided into 2 sections: classroom instructions and clinical experience. Class instructions give you the basic knowledge about this field while the clinical experience gives you specific knowledge on your area of specialty. This experience will expose you to real-life situations and give you the expertise on how medical institutions runs from day to the other.

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Before you pick the program you want to follow you should have in mind how that will affect your daily life. If you do not have other engagements during the day like work then a campus option would the best for you. If you lead a busy life you would consider a part time or online option. For bachelor’s and master’s degrees, you can earn them online but you have to complete clinical requirements in your locality.

If you go for an associate degree you end up finishing the program fast and you are in the job market. The downside is that most employers will be looking to employ those with deeper education like those with a bachelor degree. However, with your associate degree, you have a chance to advance your education while working and you will get fees reimbursement from your employer.

Types of degree programs for you

  • Nursing diplomas: these are earned at the community colleges as well as vocational schools. It is the basic program to start your way to nursing right after your high school education.
  • Associate degree in nursing (ADN): this is also earned from the community colleges and it takes a shorter time to qualify.
  • Bachelor degree in nursing (BSN): this is offered in many colleges and universities.
  • A master degree in nursing (MSN): universities and colleges offer this.
  • Doctorate degrees (DNSc, DNP, Ph.D. and ND): these options are offered in colleges and universities.

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Licensure

You will not walk straight into the working field once you are through with your education. It is compulsory that you pass some exams to express your qualification and expertise in your area of specialization. The kind of exam you undertake will be depended on what your area of specialty is as there is a variance from one to the other:

  • Registered nurses (RNs) will sit for National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) before they get the license for their operations.
  • Nurse midwives after their education should sit for the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) examination for their competency.
  • Licensed certified nursing assistant (ACN) will have to pass a state competency exam. For instance, you will need to pass the California’s state competency exam before you get your license to professional practicing.
  • Nursing practitioners will want to pass a national exam set for them by different bodies such as the American Academy of Nurse Practitioner and the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
  • Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) will need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN).

So what, after you become a nurse?

Once you become a nurse you do not sit and relax; there is so much you can do to keep your career growing. One of this is to advance your education. Conventionally, nurses are expected to continue with their education after every 2 years. You should check with your state and see what regulations they have about advancing your education. You would also earn a further degree such as masters. This will take your career higher to designations such as certified nurse anesthetist, nurse practitioner, certified nurse midwife or a clinical nurse specialist. Finally, you would choose to narrow down your specialization and this will lead to your certification. This is the choice for you if you wish to cement your career and get more intense with a smaller area of practice. It opens up your way to becoming an expert in this area.

This is the only general way to becoming a nurse. There is a defined process for each path you may choose as you will get to learn in the next section.

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3 Different paths to becoming a nurse

Prospective nurses do have 3 paths to consider starting their careers on how to become a nurse. These are BSN, ADN and nursing certificate or diploma. Each of these degrees will prepare you for NCLEX-RN and then be on your way to get certification. But if you remember, you have to narrow down your area of specialization to earn your certification. Here are the 3 ways that will lead you to a nursing career and it depends on the one you qualify for if you do not want disappointments:

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Nursing certificate/diploma

This is the lowest level of education that will get you started to your nursing career without much demand from your academic performance. You can begin it as early as you are done with your high school education.

  • Background: in most cases, you would only require a high school diploma or a GED equivalent and you are on your way to make it big in a career you have always wanted since your childhood.
  • All about the program: this covers the core areas of nursing. It covers anatomy, patient heath care, technical competencies, and physiology. There is also microbiology and informatics to increase the scope of knowledge of the students.
  • Duration of study: in general, this requires a total of 1 to 2 years but this varies with one school to the other.
  • Fees: as a general convention, this course will cost you less than what you will pay for ADN. It can go as high as $20,000 but not a cent more. The low cost is one of the most outstanding advantages that this program holds over the others.
  • Course weight: a 2-year diploma will require of you to a range of between 7 and 10 credits in a single semester. There is the option of accelerated diplomas that would require you take more credits so as to conclude your program quickly. This is the best for you if you do not have other engagements.
  • What comes after the course: after getting your diploma once your pass your NCLEX, you are now qualified to sit for NCLEX-RN and grow your career to serious designations. You have the chance to advance your education and that is what would be a deserving move towards the top of the nursing highest patch.

Associate degree in nursing (ADN)

This is the basic nursing path that will get you started in a small way but will lead you to a greater career in the future. So, what is entailed in this program?

  • Background: to qualify for this program, you need a postsecondary diploma or certificate. You are not required to have any prior experience or training in any medicine course.
  • All about the program: is a basic course and introduces you into the fundamentals of the course. The curriculum entails practical skills, clinical administration, healthcare informatics and pharmacology.
  • Duration: The course usually lasts for 2 to 3 years or whatever arrangement that will get you a 60-75 hour credit.
  • Duration: To accomplish this program you would need a fee amounting to $10,730 in a single year. This is according to CollegeBoard.org in 2013 to 2014. That would mean for 2 to 3 years you would need $21,460 to $32, 190 both for tuition and accommodation.
  • Courses to cover: this program is designed to cover the fundamentals of nursing but that does not mean that everything is easy. There are difficult concepts that will require extensive attention to earn a credit. The courses here will cover units on healthcare management and medical treatment. Both of these would require student’s keen attention if you have the hope of passing the course.
  • What comes after ADN?

Once you qualify, you have so many opportunities. You can work in hospitals and many other medical institutions. But remember that preferences may be given to those who have higher education like BSN. But that is not a problem if you want to grow your career since you can advance your education as you work and be one of top hunted nursing professions. The upper hand you have is that you can secure better jobs than those with certificates and diplomas and this means you are not starting at the lowest career level.

Bachelor of Nursing (BSN)

Here is the cream of the paths that will lead you to highest of the nursing jobs. It is one of the most sought qualifications and you will be ahead of the rest if you have a qualification in this field.

  • Background: first or second-year students have to get one more requisites before they qualify for a BSN. Some of the prerequisites include knowledge in pharmacology, ethics in health care and anatomy.
  • Course scope: it revisits on the basics on the professions but goes deeper into the specialties that you may wish to take. It delves into management skills such as problem solving, leadership and communication.
  • Duration: be prepared to give 4 full years before you earn your degree. But you can opt for the accelerated program popularly known as ABSN that will require you to take summers lessons and end your degree earlier than the stipulated 4 years.
  • Range of fees: the amount of fees you pay will depend on the kind of school you are in. For in-state students, it comes cheaper at a total cost of $73,564. It gets higher with out-of-state students who pay a total sum of $124,284. Those who pay the highest are those who go for the private institutions where they pay $163,668.
  • Number of courses: in a semester, you should be expecting to take 4 to 6 courses. You will be required to present a capstone project in your final year.

What comes after BSN?

Once you have your NCLEX-RN, you have lots of job openings to get you started. Hospitals and clinics will be the first places you should look for a job. You will get a variety of staring level jobs and you can grow your way to become a senior nursing professional. If you want to take your education further, a master’s degree in nursing science will be the best choice that you should add on your academic accolades.

Nursing job outlook

The American Nurses Association estimates that there are 3.1 million registered nurses in the U.S. This is a massive number but the wonderful thing this is that the field keeps wanting more. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), by 2022, there will be 526, 800 new jobs. This figure does not factor the number of nurses who will retire by then so the vacancies will be close to 1 million.

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5 of the most growing nursing specialties

Getting a job would not just come but you have to find a way to get it faster. There are specialties that have booming chances and if you keep an eye on them then you may only spend a short time looking for one. Here are the specialties that have openings all year round:

  • Geriatric nurse: according to the National Council on Aging, 80% of the old people have chronic living conditions. This means that there will be a job for you at all times.
  • Nurse educator: how about sharing your nursing experience with those who want to join the profession? This is a specialty on demand and 68,000 applicants were turned down in 2014 due to a shortage at the learning institutions (AAN).
  • Nurse midwives: midwives do more to bring new life into the world as well as take care of newborns and their mothers. According to BLS, this nursing area will expand by 19% at the close of 2022.
  • Home-care nurse: Once patients are discharged, they would need more care and home care centers have become popular for that.
  • Traveling nurse: this option is expanding and offers adventurous career paths.

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How to increase your chances for a nursing job

Regardless of the path, you take to become a nurse, here are ways to improve your success as a nurse:

  • Getting current trends in the field and advancing your education frequently.
  • Create a solid background of employment history and voluntary experience. You can do this in community services and part time jobs in medical institutions.
  • Create a professional network with RNs, nurse practitioners, physicians, and all the rest. This will help you land a job fast since you know who and where to look.

How to find nursing jobs

Once you are done with your schooling, it is your expectations to land that dream job you have always wanted since you now know how to become a nurse. The traditional way is to send your resume to potential employers but there are other savvier ways that would get you a job so faster. But before that, you should know that employers would be looking for someone with more practical experience but that should not deter you from hoping for a good job. One best way is to establish a strong network with those already in the profession. This is because it all comes down to who you know at the end of the day. You can start by joining the ANAs chapter in your local area. Make friends with other nurses and you will be the first they tell about a new job. You could also join nursing meeting groups and you will always be informed on new opportunities in the market.

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