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How to Become a Registered Nurse

by Lily Morgen
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Registered Nurse

Do you wish to help people and change lives as a nurse? If so, you can become a registered nurse. This process is not as difficult as it may sound, and once you have completed the steps necessary to receive your RN license, you will be able to work in a career that is both personally and professionally rewarding.

1. What Does a Registered Nurse Do?

A registered nurse (RN) is a professional who provides care for patients in a variety of settings. RNs may work in hospitals, clinics, or doctors’ offices, and their duties vary depending on the specific job and location. However, all RNs are responsible for promoting the health and well-being of their patients as follows:

  • Observing patients and doing evaluations
  • Keeping a record of patients’ symptoms and medical data
  • Updating patient records as necessary
  • Giving patients information about their conditions and how to improve their health by administering medications and treatments
  • Assisting doctors during examination
  • Performing diagnostic tests, such as taking X-rays or administering blood tests
  • Operating medical equipment
  • Providing emotional support to patients and their families.

There are many different types of nurses, and the type of care that an RN provides depends on his or her specialty. For example, some RNs specialize in caring for critically ill patients, while others work with pregnant women and new mothers.

2. Steps to Become a Registered Nurse

The processes of becoming a registered nurse are not too difficult after you’ve made the decision to pursue a nursing career. To begin with, you must obtain the necessary degree. The NCLEX Exam is the next requirement. Finally, if you want to practice in that state, you must get a license there.

We go into greater depth on each of these processes below.

1. Get a Degree in Nursing

The first step to becoming an RN is to obtain a degree in nursing from an accredited college or university. There are three main types of degree programs available:

  • Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN): This is the most common type of nursing degree, and it typically takes two to three years to complete.
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN): A BSN is a four-year degree that provides a more in-depth education in the field of nursing.
  • Master’s Degree in Nursing (MSN): An MSN is a graduate-level degree that takes two to three years to complete. RNs with an MSN can pursue advanced nursing roles, such as nurse educator or nurse practitioner.

2. Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam

Following graduation from nursing school, you must ace the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). All nursing candidates must pass this uniform exam in order to obtain their license.

The NCLEX-RN covers a wide range of topics, including safety and infection control, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity, and pharmacological and parenteral therapies. The exam is administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), and you can register for the exam online.

3. Get Licensed in Your State

The final step to becoming an RN is to obtain a license in the state where you plan to practice. Each state has its own licensing requirements, but most states require candidates to pass the NCLEX-RN exam before they will issue a license.

In addition to passing the NCLEX-RN exam, you may also need to complete a criminal background check and submit fingerprints to your state’s board of nursing. Some states also require RN candidates to complete an ethics examination.

Once you have met all of the requirements for licensure, you will be able to apply for RN jobs in your state.

4. Consider Getting Certified

Although it is not required, many RNs choose to pursue certification in a specialty area. Specialty certifications are available in a variety of nursing fields, such as critical care, gerontology, and pediatrics. To be eligible for certification, you must usually have a certain amount of experience in the specialty area and pass an exam.

Pursuing certification can show employers that you are committed to your career and have the skills and knowledge to provide high-quality patient care. It can also help you advance in your career and earn a higher salary.

5. Renew Your License Every Few Years

RN licenses typically need to be renewed every two to three years, and the process usually involves completing continuing education credits. The number of credits required varies by state, but most states require RNs to complete at least 20 hours of continuing education every two years.

Continuing education can help you stay up-to-date on the latest changes in the field of nursing and improve your clinical skills. Many hospitals and nursing schools offer continuing education courses, and you can also find online courses that fit your schedule.

Final Thought

Nurses play a vital role in the healthcare system, and they are in high demand. With the aging population and the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases, the need for nurses is expected to grow in the coming years.

If you are interested in becoming an RN, start by researching nursing programs at accredited colleges and universities. Once you have obtained your nursing degree, you will need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and obtain a license in the state where you plan to practice. 

You may also want to consider pursuing certification in a specialty area. Renew your license every few years, and complete continuing education credits to keep your skills up-to-date.

Becoming an RN can be a rewarding experience, and it can open up opportunities for you to make a difference in the lives of others.

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