If you have a natural will to help others and derive joy in making positive changes in people’s lives, then nursing may be the ideal job for you. Nursing is a popular career due to its many benefits, such as high demand, high salaries and trusted professions. However, these should not be the sole drive to become a nurse.
While nursing has its perks, the reverse is also true. There are days where you might be on the verge of quitting, and that is where passion comes in. The following explains what it takes to become a registered nurse, regardless of whether you are currently working in a different field.
Establish whether this career is right for you
The first step to becoming a nurse is to ensure that you are in for what this career will throw your way. Nurses have different responsibilities – from administrative tasks like keeping health records to other duties such as diagnosing patients. It is best to understand your role as a nurse and its challenges.
Self-assess to ensure you have qualities that make a good nurse, such as empathy, patience, critical thinking and good communication skills. You can ask yourself several questions that test the mentioned attributes. After you are sure of your decision, the following steps are straightforward, and they include:
Obtain your degree
It would help if you had a degree from an authorized institution regardless of whether it is an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree. The type of nursing degree you choose depends on how much time you allocate for your studies and where you intend to work. Although you can become a nurse with either a bachelor’s or an associate’s degree, here is what you need to understand.
Some states allow registered nurses with associate’s degrees to obtain their licenses. However, things might take a different turn as more and more states require registered nurses to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing. While some states don’t mind an associate’s degree, some employers prioritize applicants with a bachelor’s degree.
A bachelor’s degree involves a lot of hands-on experience, so most employers prefer this to other programs. For this reason, a BSN may be the right option if you want to become a registered nurse. A bachelor’s degree requires four years of theory and practical lessons, which is the way for first-time college students.
However, if you already have an associate’s degree, you can enroll in another program that takes as little as 12 months. As for individuals with bachelor’s degrees from different fields, they can enroll in accelerated nursing programs.
Pass the NCLEX
Every nurse must sit for the NCLEX after graduating from an approved institution. You can only obtain this license after sitting and passing the NCLEX-RN. The exam comprises questions that test the fundamentals of nursing, including prevention and detection of disease, primary care and pharmacological therapies.
You only have one attempt, and you may need an additional 45 days waiting before you can retake the exam. As such, adequate preparation is essential before sitting for the exam. You can look up online for study resources or inquire with your school. Remember to prepare before the exam period to avoid any last-minute rush.
Get your license
A license is a permit your state gives you to confirm your eligibility to practice your profession. The licensing requirements vary from state to state, which is why you should do some research before applying for your license. Also, you can only use it for licensing in the state where you intend to work.
If you wish to further specialize as a travel nurse, you may consider the Nurse Licensure Compact – an initiative that allows you to obtain licenses from different states. However, those states have to be members of the alliance, which has 34 states. The waiting period before you get your consent also varies from one state to another.
Find a job
While looking for a job, consider facilities in your area before exploring options in other places. Your first job may not be what you wanted, but you can always start somewhere. The more you work, the more experience you gain, and you also learn what you like.
Now that you understand the journey of becoming a nurse, you can make an informed decision.