Becoming a Nurse

A Rewarding Career

Nursing is a rewarding career in a high-growth field where one can find job security and excellent advancement opportunities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017 reported the average annual pay for registered nurses to be around $64,690, with a range of $46,360 to $101,630 depending on specialty, experience and region of the country. Nurses play an essential role in promoting health and wellness, and help improve the quality of life for individuals across the lifespan, from birth through death. They interact with the most vulnerable populations to improve their health and help those who are healthy to maintain their lifestyles.

Obtaining Your Degree

The first requirement in becoming a registered nurse is to obtain the proper education. There are several paths that can lead to licensure as an RN. The recommended is a 4 year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) which prepares the nurse for bedside nursing and leadership roles. While other routes include an Associate Degree and diploma often taken at a community colleges, those programs can take between 2-4 years to complete and many hospitals and healthcare agencies are requiring their nurses to have the BSN. Therefore nurses must return to a College or University for another 2-3 years to obtain their BSN degree. Once the degree is obtained, the graduate must take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).

Accelerated Programs

Many people find themselves dissatisfied in current jobs, salary and for other reasons many choose nursing as a second career. Many colleges and universities offer accelerated and general second degree programs. These programs typically take between 12- 24 months resulting in a BSN or an MSN. Accelerated programs are designed specifically for students who have earned a bachelor’s degree in another field. Students complete the science and humanities prerequisites, but are not required to take general education courses again. Instead, the accelerated program focuses solely on nursing skills. Students graduate with a BSN or an MSN and are prepared to take the NCLEX-RN.

Many nurses go on to receive their MSN, DNP and PhD in nursing to advance their careers in nursing and hospital administration, advanced practice nursing and academia.

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