Learning how to become a registered nurse is only the first step in what will ultimately be a very rewarding undertaking. There are a number of important steps to go through before one can work as a nurse, from education and training to licensure and continued education. Here are some of the most important steps toward a nursing career.
1. Learn as much as you can
Becoming a nurse is a big decision, and you should learn as much as you can about the field before jumping in. Looking into the different fields of specialization you could enter will help facilitate your entry into the industry, enabling you to identify the most suitable and most efficient approach to education and training.
2. Choose a school
The choice of school is the first important decision you will have to make. The school’s track record of capable graduates and the overall quality of education provided are essential, but you should also consider factors such as location, financial aid availability, schedule flexibility, and quality of the facilities. Looking into the characteristics of different schools will enable you to get a better level of education and ensure a more satisfactory learning experience as well.
3. Decide on the nursing program or degree you want
There are a number of nursing programs and degree options in which aspiring nurses could enroll, including Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), Associate of Science in Nursing (ADN), and a diploma program. Most nurses today enter the field via ADN programs, which typically require two years of education in a community college. Each program offers specific benefits; ADN and diploma programs tend to be more focused on “hands-on” instruction, while BSN and MSN lean more toward academic disciplines.
4. Take the necessary prerequisite courses
Don’t neglect the prerequisite course such as Anatomy, Physiology, Biology, Chemistry, and even Math and English. Most nursing programs will not allow students to enter into the program without going through the prerequisite courses.
5. Complete the actual nursing program
After the prerequisite programs, you can begin focusing on nursing-specific courses such as nutrition, psychology, human development, pharmacology, and the specific nursing courses. This stage of education will likely involve clinical work in conjunction with classroom instruction.
6. Get licensed
After going through the nursing program, the next step is to obtain a nursing license. This will require successfully passing the NCLEX or nursing licensure examination. There are many NCLEX preparation and review courses available from training centers and online with which aspiring nurses could prepare for the exam.
7. Get started in an entry level position
Applying for an entry-level in the nursing and industry is the next important stage in a nursing career. At this time, the professional network you have established at school and on your clinical rounds could be utilized for getting your start in the industry.
8. Pursue further education
Further education will open up more rewarding opportunities in the nursing industry. The American Nurses Association maintains the American Nurses Credentialing Center, which administers several nursing specialty examinations that could pave the way into more varied fields of specialization.