HomeHow to Become a Nurse: What You Need to Know

How to Become a Nurse: What You Need to Know

Do you have a passion for caring for people? Are you eager to make a positive difference in the world, or have you always felt called to the medical field?

If so, you may want to become a nurse.

Qualified nurses are among the most important people in our society, and there’s a strong demand for them. Hospitals and doctors rely on nurses for their valuable skills and training, such as bloodborne pathogens training. And with the increasing elderly population, there’s never been a better time to consider a nursing career.

Besides being a highly in-demand career, nursing is a very flexible one, too. There are a variety of ways to get your nursing degree and enter the medical field. Whether you’re a full-time student or need to earn your degree on the side, there’s a path to becoming a nurse that will work for you. Best of all, there’s always going to be the option to advance your education in the future.

But going to nursing school isn’t exactly a walk in the park. What’s the best way to get started?

That’s what this article is about. Keep reading for more.

What Do Nurses Do?

Different nurses have different responsibilities depending on their roles. There are several types of nursing you can choose from when you begin pursuing your nursing career. These include Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and Registered Nurse (RN), with an advanced role as an APRN also available.

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The more advanced your nursing education is, the more jobs and roles you’ll qualify for. Licensed Practical Nurses are usually responsible for providing basic care to patients. This role includes things like measuring vitals, administering medications, performing physical exams, and providing basic patient needs, such as dressing and eating.

Registered Nurses have more training, so they can provide more advanced patient care. RNs can also serve in leadership and managerial positions, and they can even teach nursing students. Usual job duties for RNs include overseeing nursing staff, performing diagnostic tests, and overseeing nursing students in clinical fieldwork.

One of the best things about becoming a nurse is that there are many job opportunities available, and many settings in which a nurse can find work. A nurse may practice in a hospital, a residential care facility, a home healthcare service, or a community health center. Nurses can also work in educational services to help medical students in their training.

Nurses in healthcare and medical services work with other nurses and doctors on a daily basis. If you like the idea of collaborating with other medical professionals, you might enjoy being a nurse.

No matter what your passion or reason for becoming a nurse is, it’s almost a guarantee that you can find a place and position where you feel comfortable and fulfilled.

What Nursing Degrees are Available?

In order to become a nurse, you will have to complete certain educational requirements first. You’ll have a few different options to choose from when it comes to qualifications for a nursing role. As we already pointed out, the most common nursing roles include Licensed Practical Nurse and Registered Nurse.

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To become an LPN, you’ll need a diploma or certificate from an accredited nursing program.

To become an RN, you’ll have to earn an associate degree in nursing, or ADN, at minimum. However, you can also get equivalent training in other ways.

To qualify for an advanced nursing role, such as APRN (Advanced Practice Registered Nurse), you’ll need a graduate degree in nursing.

As in most professional fields, the potential for additional responsibilities and higher salaries for nurses increases with education. Getting more advanced degrees, gaining employment experience, and pursuing continued education can help you get more attention from prospective employers and earn more.

After you complete your nursing education, you will need to pass a state licensing exam to become a properly certified nurse. The right education should prepare you to pass the licensing exam with flying colors.

Besides allowing you to pass the licensing exam, a good nursing education will prepare you to fulfill a nurse’s everyday duties. These responsibilities typically include the following:

  • Finding patient medical records
  • Updating and maintaining patient records
  • Studying and recording patients’ conditions and behavior
  • Performing diagnostic procedures and physical exams
  • Reporting patients’ health conditions to the supervising doctor or nurse practitioner
  • Teaching patients about the conditions and possible treatment plans
  • Giving information to supervisors to help define optimized treatment plans
  • Administering medications
  • Treating patients’ wounds
  • Supervising health unit clerks, medical assistants, and other nurses
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If these things sound exciting to you, you should enjoy nursing school.

What Licenses Do You Need to Become a Nurse?

Nursing school is only the beginning. After you’ve earned the degree or certification you need for the nursing role you want to fill, you’ll need to get licensed to practice as a nurse.

As an LPN or RN, you must hold licensure through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, or NCSBN. However, the requirements for licensing vary from one state to another. You’ll need to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for your state and nursing role.

However, before you can take the NXLEX exam, you’ll need to get test authorization from your state. Authorization to take the test can be granted by state or district regulatory bodies, as long as you meet certain nursing requirements. Once authorized, you’ll have to pay a fee to register for the NCLEX.

The NCLEX exams test applicants’ knowledge and skills that they will be using in their day-to-day careers as nurses. They focus primarily on meeting client needs, determining physiological integrity, and maintaining safe and effective care environments.

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Fortunately, you won’t be without help when it comes to preparing for the exam, and you’re also allowed to take it more than once. Candidates can prepare for their test by reviewing the NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN test plans.

After you’ve been tested and licensed as a practicing nurse, you’ll need to retake NCLEX exams occasionally throughout your career. This is to verify that your nursing knowledge is still up-to-date, which is necessary to renew your license. License renewal timelines vary from state to state, so you’ll need to find out how it will apply to you.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Nurse?

As you might have guessed, the amount of time it takes to become a nurse depends on two things:

  1. How fast you’re willing or able to complete your education—it will take you longer if you’re taking evening classes in your spare time than if you devote yourself to being a student
  2. The kind of nurse you want to become—different nursing degrees and licenses require different amounts of training

To become a Licensed Practical Nurse, it’s likely that you’ll have to spend from one year to a year and a half getting your training. However, that will depend partly on the state and institution you’re getting your education in. Different states and schools differ in the demands they place on medical students and the requirements they have for graduates.

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To become a Registered Nurse, it will probably take you two years to complete the required associate degree. Next, you’ll have to spend some time passing the NCLEX exam.

Some aspiring nurses choose to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing instead of an associate degree. This usually takes two years longer to earn but getting your BSN may improve your work and salary opportunities as a Registered Nurse.

Other degrees and qualifications may be required if you want to be an administrator or medical teacher. And once again, it will vary based on your state.

Support Your Nursing Career with HIPAA Exams

It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to become a nurse, from finding the right school to getting your first job. But being able to work as a nurse is its own reward because it gives you an opportunity to make the world a better place through your career.

Even after you’ve finished nursing school, continued education will always be required to keep you on the cutting edge of medicine. Medical professionals rely on HIPAA Exams to keep themselves and their staff up-to-date. Find out how HIPAA Exams can help you reach your goals as a nurse.